Ramble On

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Brew Day at Beaver Run Brewery

Dan repositioning the mash, just as I arrived.

As long as I am on the topics of brewing and distilling, I have a couple of posts that I want to put up – one about brewing with Dan at Beaver Run Brewery, the topic today, and one about the White House Honey Porter batch I made on Saturday.

Dan was fresh off of brewing the “Smokey Tail” porter that will be part of the tasting at January’s Blue Ridge Brewers Association meeting.  This would be the first time he brewed with his set-up out in the barn on the property there – he’s been getting that cleaned up in preparation for using some of the space that way.  It was cold, but still promised to be a great day of brewing, and with all the cooking and boiling going on, the barn would heat up quickly.

The new grain mill - a collaborative effort of some local brewers.
The first thing to know about the goings on at Beaver Run Brewery is that Dan has been brewing for a while now, and he’s advanced to being an all-grain brewer.  I’ve written about a few past brews under the Beaver Run Brewery label, at the end of this post.  He’s been very encouraging to me as I’ve taken up an interest and started brewing myself, so I jumped at the chance to join him after he invited me over for this inaugural brewing.

The day's hops selection.  The Cascade and Fuggles are local.
He had a version of the “Flat Tail” IPA on tap, and I got there just after the mash was completed.  That meant I missed the operation of the new grain mill (he used the residual barley from Copper Fox), but I was there for the sparge and to provide some muscle moving stuff around as needed.

In addition to the local grains, Dan used some of his own Cascade hops, grown on the property, and some Ultra hops that he and the other local brewers had acquired.  I’ve got a photo here of me adding the first hops after the boil started.

Adding the Ultra.
We enjoyed a couple of beers while the boil was going, and soon we were joined by Dan’s nephew and son as things progressed.  Each of them has some experience brewing as well and they offered some insights – and Dan’s son Chris had brought along a couple of specialty brews from the Capital Ale House in Harrisonburg that we sampled.

Getting ready to chill the wort -
the plate cooler is mounted to the table.

One of the coolest gadgets that Dan had to show off was a new “plate” wort chiller.  He’d taken some precautions to ensure that it wouldn’t clog up from the leaf hops by adding a couple of filters in the kettle.  Then we hooked the hoses up and brought in cold water from the well – it worked amazingly. 

The wort was chilled to around 60 degrees in one pass, which took only five minutes!  We decided that the wort was too cold to pitch the yeast, as a matter of fact, so Dan took it inside to his usual cellar to warm up overnight before pitching the yeast.  I still can’t get over how fast that particular task happened.

Into the carboy for primary fermentation.

The spent hops left behind in the kettle.
After the brewing was finished, Dan had about 6 gallons of wort, produced substantially from local grains, hops and water.  That means there is only one ingredient left to master locally in order to have a truly Page County Grown brew – the yeast. 

I think that one is going to take some work…but there’s no doubt it’s possible.

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