I'd seen a post on Facebook earlier that day that he had planned a 10-gallon batch of the Flat Tail IPA (Brian: beavers have flat tails, and the brewery is near Beaver Run, hence the name). He had some new equipment and techniques to try out, and I was interested in seeing how those worked as well.
Dan's evolution in brewing technique graduated to all grain two or three years ago, when he added large kettles that suit this style. He added propane "outdoor" style burners, along with a pump and wort chiller to complete the set up. He doesn't have to lift any hot kettles, and temperature sensors are built in.
It's a pretty high quality operation that produces consistent results, so he has also been experimenting with beer styles, producing a pilsener and stout recently. His standby has always been the IPA though - so this was a good batch to be around for.
The major upgrade of the day was the new yeast starter outfit. It's shown here in the photo - I've lost track of how long this yeast had been "awake." The plan was to split it into two five gallon carboys, after starting from one commercial vial. Later he'll harvest a little and start keeping his own starters in the brewery fridge.
While I did help out during the boil, my role for the day was to act as brewer's assistant. I took care of some of the intermediary cleaning and sanitation after the mash and sparge were completed.
As always, one of the main features of Beaver Run brews are the home grown hops - there's a photo here of Dan adding the bittering hops early during the boil. Later on I took a walk over for a look at the idle hopyard. It won't be long until we start seeing little shoots come up on the bines.
For myself, I really am impatient for winter to end this year. So I'm looking forward to seeing some green in those little hills in the backyard.