Thursday, 14 March 2013

Adventures in Microbrewing

     I have a lot to tell you about today – many brew projects have been undertaken, which unfortunately has not left me with as much time to write about them as I would like.
The first thing I want to tell you all about is the brewing of The 7. Yes, we did another batch, of 300L (this time we managed to keep all of it, and there were no major disasters).
We did do something fun and experimental in the mash – we added 52 grams of Coleman’s mustard powder. The idea behind that was mustard powder is basically starch, and the enzymes in the grain would convert those starches into short and long chain sugars. Mustard sugars. Yummy yummy goodness.

     This is what it looked like going into the grant. The clarity was superb.

     Once that was all done with, into the kettles it went to be exuberantly over-hopped. We did have a slight drama with the heat exchanger, but we got that working in the end and ran off into one of our lovely 450L fermenters.

     After we were all done, we sampled one of my earlier creations: Terraplane, a dark lager.

     Alan invited me to brew at Wild on Waiheke, a microbrewery nestled between two vineyards on Waiheke’s Onetangi road

     On the day in question it was a cloudless day of scorching heat (again). Another bloody day in paradise. You wouldn’t think it would be possible to get sick of the utterly gorgeous weather, but we have been suffering through somewhat of a drought. I have had to order water in twice, since all the smaller residential properties on the island run off tank water and there has been NO RAIN. The water companies have made a killing this year. The waiting list now stretches into April.

      At 7.59am I arrived at the chap space to pick up Wild on Waiheke’s resident brewer. There sits Alan, cigarette in hand. White gumboots with yellow soles.

     Next to him on the floor there was one shoe and one slipper. This is evidence that his gout has improved. On Saturday (when we made yet more beer at “chap space”) he had hobbled about the brewery actually wearing the shoe and the slipper, owing to the impossibility of getting the afflicted foot into a boot.

     The road works on the Onetangi straight are still in full swing. A conspiracy theory exists among the locals that “they” purposely repair roads shoddily so that work will be continuous. I can’t say whether it is true, but I certainly do notice a lot of road works without much actual improvement to the roads. One lot they did had pot-holes before it was even painted.

     So I may have mentioned in an earlier post, that due to my own idiocy and inability to accept that I DO NOT possess the power of super strength, I have slipped a disk (again) and am basically crippled for all intents and purposes. Moving hurts, sitting hurts, standing hurts, and I can’t lift anything heavier than about 10Kg unless I am SOOOOO careful. Which means, I can’t be on pain-killers because if I am, I just carry on making it worse because I just blithely hoist 25kg sacks of grain around the place (which is fine, when I haven’t fucked my back moving full kegs/bits of the brewery around the place).  

      Even though Alan has gout, he was therefore nominated as the one responsible for getting in the kettle and cleaning off the elements.

     I really thought he wasn’t going to fit, but he did. I got to mash in, using their absolutely enormous rouser.

     The rouser is utterly gargantuan. But then, you do need a big rouser if you brew 1200L.

     I like this little brewery. Not as much as ours perhaps, but it is good. The grant has a little pump inside it which makes that part of the process pretty automated. That gave us time to sift through all the interesting little bits and pieces the brewery had accumulated over the last 15 years. It is vitally important for Wild on Waiheke that they have everything they need for the Auckland Beer Festival. All the taps, and o-rings, and John Guest fittings. There certainly is something very satisfying about having a big case full of John Guest fittings. It makes one feel prepared for whatever mishaps might befall one.

     They do a few things at Wild on Waiheke that we at Ale Brewing Chaps do not bother with. One of those things is bottling. They have a little bottling station at one end of the shed that houses the brewery. 

      I also got a look at the setup they have in the cold-room. If you’ll forgive the tragic pun, it’s pretty cool.

     Meanwhile we are still frantically preparing for the Auckland Beer Fest which is only 8 days away now. Chap’s Rob and Jerry have been making our lovely macrocarpa bar top.

     Jerry found some cool bits that we can turn into unique taps. They even have bullet holes.
But don’t worry, those aren’t all the taps we’ll have. There will be at least TEN, and most likely more.

1 comment:

  1. Well done chaps. I'm so sorry I'll miss the Beer Fest and my liver is celebrating. I won't think of you at all as I sit and comtemplate my navel