Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hoppy Holidays

There is lots of news to report from Mattingly Brewing Company. The restaurant is now under new Managment.
Jerid and his wife Beckie had their first child on Thanksgiving.
And, two days later Julie and I tied the knot in Dallas, TX.
The ceremony was great, if a little 'fainty'. The reception was a blast, Texas BBQ, beers and mead from my dad and I and a great band.
The honeymoon, while lacking the beer department, was great. Excellence Riviera Cancun is a fantastic resort. The food was exceptional and while on the beer hiatus I did get to enjoy some very good Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, rums and scotch.
We are back and hard at work in the cellar. I'm brewing up a fresh batch of Homeward Brown today. Tastings have told us that the Old Harbinger American Barleywine is ready for a January 20th release and that Bourbon Oak American Stout and Black Forest Maple Imperial Stout are close on its heels. Jerid has brewed up a Wheatwine and has suitably demented plans for it. I finally have all the ingredients I want, so later this month I'll finally brew up the Pinball Blizzard Rye IPA, it'll be a hop storm, I tell ya!
All for now, time to add some more hops and mash in another batch.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Smoke Rises

Funky Friday the 13th's first release was huge success. We are overjoyed with how the beer came out, and Friday, August 13th, 2010 can't come fast enough.
We are in the midst of a long day in the cellar so that tomorrow I can brew up our Holiday offering, a Smoked Imperial Brown Ale. We plan to use the new cherry wood smoked malt from Briess, blackstrap molasses, several other malts, and three hop varieties.
We also plan to brew an Anniversary Ale, to celebrate the brewery's first year in operation. It will be a Belgian Dark Strong Ale. Both beers will be in the 8% range.
Well, back to kegging and cleaning...

Monday, October 26, 2009


Surprise! I'm back. This summer was a bit crazy and the Blog got left in the dust, but here I am to pick up the dregs.
Well, what has happened since the end of May? Lots, and even more.
We now have an assistant brewer, Jerid Saffell, he has taken charge on several Peeks and has made great progress in the cellar and will take some brewhouse responsibilities.
I have moved from the Schlafly Taproom to the Bottleworks and been brewing on the complete opposite kind of system that we have at MBC. Our MBC brewhouse is a 1.5 bbl, two vessel system of the most manual nature imaginable (other than having to chop wood to fire the kettle). While at the Bottleworks it a 6 vessel, 22-30 bbl variable capacity, computer controlled operation.
A big distraction (or is that inspiration?) is the now immenent wedding. I'll be tying the knot next month and Jerid's wife is due to deliver shortly thereafter. So we are trying to pack the place to the rafters with beer...just in case.
We have released several new beers: Gemutlich Keller Oktoberfest, Pooka Pumpkin Ale and Hop Seeker Fresh Hop American Strong Ale, and I'm very proud of how they all turned out.
We attended the St. Louis Brewers' Heritage Festival, St. Louis Microfest, Augusta Bottoms Beer Festival, Parkville Brewers' Festival and the first Schlafly Fresh Hop Festival.
MBC has won two awards, in the Sauce Magazine Readers' Choice Poll we snagged an Honorable Mention and we took the title of 'Best Beer' in the Riverfront Times Best of St. Louis edition for our Black Sky Stout Porter.
Halloween is coming soon and while we've released plenty of treats already, there are more to come, like Autumnal Blaze Strong Amber Wit on 10/28, Jerid's Hop Goddess IIPA on 11/4, Jerid's Evil Pumpkin Imperial Porter on 11/11 and Funky Friday's first appearance on 11/13.
Well, time to go check on the mash of this American Barleywine. Its gonna me a monster!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Drew's Favorites Volume 2

Ahh...Flossmoor Station, how I want a Pullman Brown, Killer Kapowski or is it Kowalski? whatever, I want one of those Baltic Porters, no, better make it a case. Or two. Flossmoor Station from outside of Chicago has not only put out two of my favorite dark beers brewed in the midwest, but the even produce and amazing series of American IPAs and a very nice American Wheat, a style I will defend from other beer geeks for all of my days.
Pullman Brown is a work of art, and a true show of complexity for another style brushed aside by many in the search of the latest and greatest. Nutty, toasty malt, toffee sweetness, a bit of chocolate and layering of earthy hops tied together with their fruity house ale yeast makes for a brown of startling depth. The use of toasted oats and molasses really puts it over the top.
The Baltic Porter is classic representation of one of my favorite styles. Loads of malt in all its fat glory adorned with dark, dried fruits, figs and raisins all dusted in cocoa powder and coffee. Clean, devastatingly smooth and strong enough to make you a little sleepy.
Vishnu's Vice and Lady Columbia were both excllent bottled IPAs I had the pleasure of consuming, and the Wooden Hell Barleywine was no slouch, either.
Even though Matt Van Wyk has left Flossmoor Behind to head out Oregon way, Bryan Shimkos has stepped into his boots (not literally...eww) and will take Flossmoor into the future. I wish him the best of luck!

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Mighty Current

We are standing on the edge of history. Not moon landing, or Archduke assasination history, but we are one the brink of one of those little shifts that can change the course of things, like the way the weather in Clearwater County, Minnesota alters how the Mississippi-Missouri River confluence laps on our banks, and flows down towards the delta.
This is not passive history, however, it is active history, and the river of which I speak isn't filled with muddy water, but glorious craft beer. While the river of craft beer has picked up greatly in volume and quality in the St. Louis area over the past few years, it have certainly not crested.
A new tributary is about to surge into the current, St. Louis Craft Beer Week. SLCBW is already part of a larger body, the mighty which has been pouring into the current for over 20 months now and has decidedly changed how craft beer flows through St. Louis.
What exactly, will it bring? Well right now, all we can do is look at the events slated for this year, see how they fare and make forcasts for next year.
This year's lineup looks something like this:

Saturday May 30th
Beer and Brats Festival - Westport Plaza
B33r and Brats - 33 Wine Shop & Tasting Bar
Wine-Beer-BBQ - Wine & Cheese Place Ballwin

Sunday May 31st
Homebrew With Drew (that's me) - Mattingly Brewing Company
I'll be firing up the old homebrewing kettles and making a Dampfbier, a Bavarian peasants' beer, low in gravity (initial sugar content and, therefore, alchol), all barley malt, lightly hopped and fermented with yeast borrowed from a Weissbier (Schlafly, in this case) brewery. It will be served at the June 17th Peek.
It starts at 9am and if you want to brew email me drew at mattinglybrewing dot com

Monday June 1st
Craft Beer Dinner - The Shaved Duck
Meet a Griesedieck - The Royale
Boulevard Tank 7 Sampling - International Tap House

Tuesday June 2nd
Beer and Cheese Matching - Wine & Cheese Place Clayton
Founders Draught Release Party - The Stable
Tenacious Trivia: Beer Edition - Newstead Tower Public House
Bell's Beer Dinner - Renaissance St. Louis Airport
Sam Adams Beer Tasting - Lukas Liquor

Wednesday June 3rd
Bell's Brewery Beer School - Cicero's
Peek-a-Brew Pale Ryeder Edition - Mattingly Brewing Company
Boulevard Two Jokers Wit and Smokestack Tasting - Lukas Liquor
Beer and Cheese Tasting - Schlafly Taproom
Sam Adams Beer Tasting - Randall's Wine & Spirits
Meet the Brewery (Founders) - International Tap House

Thursday June 4th
Craft/Beer - The Royale
Beer Tasting for Wine Lovers - Wine & Cheese Place Clayton
History of Craft Beer - Schlafly Bottleworks
O'Fallon Brewery Garden Party - Missouri Botanical Gardens

Friday June 5th
Beer Tasting - Wine & Cheese Place Clayton
St. Louis Brewers' Heritage Festival - Forset Park
Ss. Peter & Paul Craft Beer Fest - Alton Sportmen's Club

Saturday June 6th
St. Louis Brewers' Heritage Festival - Forst Park

Details on all the events can be found at

That's an amazing week!
I will be at both Mattingly events and will do my best to attend the Founders' Release Party and Trivia events on Tuesday night, the History of Craft Beer and O'Fallon Garden Party on Thursday and as much of the St. Louis Brewers' Heritage Festival as I can fit it around my brewing schedule for that weekend.
I encourage everyone to make it out to these events, especially the Mattingly events, but if cannot attend those, please go to what you can and support this venture. St. Louis Craft Beer Week has some incredible potential. Can St. Louis become the next Denver, San Diego or Portland? If we can demonstrate that we are up their level, then we will be at their level. So raise a pint and make it happen!

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Homebrewing Spirit Lives on at MBC

Craft Beer. noun.
If a homebrewer (current or former) gets to decide what the beer tastes like, it's craft beer.
- Randy Mosher's Radical Brewing, p. 2

Lately it occurs to me that things have been very homebrew-esque around the cellar at Mattingly Brewing Company. Since the release of the mighty Dead Flowers Double IPA we have seen a Dubbel spiced with Star Anise, Cinnimon, Ginger and Orange peel, a Brandy Oak Aged Dubbel, and a Chipotle Porter. It looks a awful lot like the kind of homebrew lineup I have been known to turn out. The cellar has seen more that Drew-brand homebrewed insanity in the last few days. In the near future we'll see the release of the Black Sands Coconut Porter, Black Thoughts Cocoa Porter aged on toasted (by me) coconut and Scharffen Berger Cacao Nibs, resectively. But, dear beer ethusiasts, that is not all. I have also kegged off Black Past Historical Porter, Black Sky Stout Porter taken back to the 1800s. To create this 'Original' Porter, I added a bit of our Abominator Smoked Doppelbock, charred American White Oak (charred by yours truely) and the funky, yeasty dregs from a bottle of George Gale's Prize Old Ale (I'm enjoying the remainder of this bottle of the 2005 Vintage as I type), this will aged and develop or 'stale' in the parlance of the 1800s, the release date is TBA (read: When its good and ready, damnit!).
Oh, by the way, I've brewed up some Abominator Smoked Doppelbock, too! It was actually the first brew on the system, my test batch. The crazy system we have suprisingly is very efficient at getting every last bit of malty goodness out the mash, so the Smoked Bock quickly became a Samiclaus strength Doppelbock...woohoo! It has been patiently aging in our cellar, and will continue to until winter rears its ugly head and we beat back the bitter cold with a massive, smoky, sweet, caramelly, warming lager.
There are other projects maturing down here, like the Biere from Mars, the Biere de Mars inoculated (what a great word) with Brettanomyces from my favorite source for those little buggers, Orval. To be released in the fall.
Since I have finally kegged off the Abominator, I'll have some empty homebrew fermenters, which means its time to brew into them. Perhaps something like Black Forest Maple Extra Stout?
But you don't have to wait for everything exciting, in fact, for one, the wait is almost over. On June 3rd, be ready for the ride of the Pale Ryeder Palm Sugar Rye Tripel.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Drew's Favorites Volume 1

Rather than just keep my small army of readers up to date on the goings on in the cellar at Mattingly Brewing Company, I have decided to use this blog as a chance to show my appreciation for what fellow brewers are up to. There will no be discernible order or pattern to who or how they are chosen for recognition, other than that I have a deep respect for the beers they produce.
So, on with it then!
Who, oh who should I recognize first?
Well, I was sitting at home (for a change) with my fiance, Julie, talking about the upcoming beer festival season, which kicked off this past weekend with Schlafly's Repeal of Prohibition Festival. We were talking about the first festival she came to (or I dragged her to, whatever), it was the St. Louis Microfest 2006. It was a cool May afternoon and we didn't stay for the whole thing, but we did get to sample quite a few beers. Even after the years there was one beer that stuck out in her mind, New Albanian Brewing Company's Thunderfoot.
For those poor, wretched souls who do not know Thunderfoot, it a magical and mysterious black ale, a Cherry Oak Imperial Stout. Sublime balance of chocolately malt, coffee roastiness, caramelly and toffee malt middle, woody and vanilla oakiness, all drenched in sweet and tart cherries, real cherries. Silky smooth and dangerously satisfying, it is a magnificent beverage. Really, it is no shock that it stuck in Julie's mind.
But, of course, it doesn't end with Thunderfoot. Hoptimus is an American Double IPA drippying in citrusy, grassy hop character with a fantastic, bready caramelly malt backing. Malcolm's Old Setter's Ale on cask was arguably the best beer at the 2008 Great Taste of the Midwest, intense maltiness, some earthy and floral hops to balance the intense rush of toffee and breadiness with plenty of fruity esters and warming alcohol to round out an immense Old Ale. It was truly remarkable.
They also brew an excellent Imperial Pilsner by the name Elsa Von Horizon, a funky, sour, refreshing and outright strange Kentucky Common in addition to many, many others.
Jared, Jesse and their newest team member, David are working tirelessly to get the new production facility up and running to package their fantastic beers and get them into the market.
I, for one, cannot wait!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Hops? I'll show you hops!

Stone recently posted on their blog about a new collaborative beer, Juxtaposition Black Pilsner. A joint effort between Cambridge Brewing, Brew Dog and Stone they proclaim that it is the hoppiest beer they have ever brewed.
Wow! Stone's hoppiest beer ever? That must really be something! From the makers of Stone IPA, Levitation Ale, Sublimely Self Righteous Ale, Arrogant Bastard, Old Guardian and many other one time only or occasionally offered hop bombs, they really know how to hop a beer, and this one must be a monster! Right?
They claim a usage of 3 pounds of hops per barrel. They're right it is a load of hops.
But, here's the kicker, they're all excited to put that load into a 10% ABV Black Pilsner with more than 100 calculated IBUS, to be brewed only once...yet our HOPtimal APA, weighing in at 4.5% ABV and 45 IBUs is brewed with...3 pounds of hops per barrel.
Now some may wonder how and why this can be. Stone is using a higher portion of their hop charges for bitterness, while I focus my hop bills more around flavor and aroma. We're both using high alpha (and high oil content) hops in these brews. In Stone's case Sorachi Ace and Motueka, in my case its Magnum, Sterling, Mt. Hood, Ahtanum and Summit.
Okay, so this may be Stone's hoppiest beer, but that doesn't make it the hoppiest beer out there, does it?
Well, how about something really, Really, REALLY hoppy? Yes, please. Lets take a look at Russian River's Pliny the Elder, widely regarded as one of the hoppiest beers around and possibly the best Double IPA being brewed. It clocks in with approximately 6 pounds per barrel of hoppy goodness.
But that still isn't their hoppiest offering, that distinction belongs to Pliny the Younger, a Triple IPA or TIPA. Which based on the information available, it packs the punch of around 9 pounds per barrel of green flowery insanity.
Which brings me to what all this has been building towards. I hear the cries of the St. Louis beer community clamoring "Give us more hops!". Be sure your cries had not gone unheeded.
While HOPtimal APA, which is hoppier than anything Stone has made until now, has been described as "not EXCEPTIONALLY hoppy" and "mild", I find to have the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the face. I will really bring on the hurt with Dead Flowers Double IPA. It will hit your palate with about the subtlety of a 70 megaton thermonuclear blast or a five mile wide asteroid impact.
The brew was so packed with hops, the entire kettle appeared to full of the sludge, called 'trub' left over in the kettle after a brew is transferred to the kettle.
The hop stopper clogged instantly and the heat exchanger had to be cleaned three times after the brew because so much hop material made it that far.
The dry hopping rate alone exceeds that of Stone's total hop load for its hoppiest beer yet.
You want hops, you got hops. fact more than 10 pounds per barrel. That's more than three times the hops in HOPtimal APA or Stone Juxtaposition Black Pilsner, almost twice the hops in Pliny the Elder and still more hops than even the monster, Pliny the Younger. It packs the punch of 8% ABV and 80 IBUs, remember, the focus is on flavor and aroma...and that 80 is still insanely high.
St. Louis hopheads prepare for a rain of fire, death and destruction and the ride of the four horsemen because Dead Flowers Double IPA is coming on April 8th and after it lands on your palate it will leave it like so much scorched earth.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Funky Friday

Well, the RFT review dropped this week. The beers went over well and now the pressure is really on. Can I make enough beer? The answer seems to be 'barely', 'maybe' or 'no'. So, we are in the hunt for equipment to upgrade...already!
This Friday (yesterday), we tapped 1849 Irish Red Ale, based on Jeff Harbaugh's recipe. It was a bit different than his original, but equally delicious in its own right.
Neither of these tidbits hardly justify use of 'funky', though, do they? This does: Bourbon Barrel Aged Dubbel de Flanders.
I'll let that sink in for a moment.

Funky Friday the 13th, it is.

Courtesy of our good friends at Schlafly (my other employer, as well), we picked up some Jim Beam barrels used to age some Imperial Stout to turn our back patio into a proper 'Biergarten'. Those three will see out their useful existence as planters for some hop vines this spring (hints at a fresh hop ale at some point, doesn't it?).
One lucky barrel, however, has become the incubation vessel for Mattingly Brewing Company's first sour ale. This Flanders-style Dubbel is being refermented in the oak by Wyeast's Roselare Blend that I've grown up to handle this volume. Roselare blend is a mixed culture of wild yeast and bacteria from the Rodenbach brewery in Belgium. Rodenbach is world famous for their complex sour ales.
Fellow Taproom brewer Brennan Greene and I recently shared a bottle of Rodenbach Grand Cru which I had stashed away in my cellar for the last several years. It was damn near miraculous, a fantastic beverage. I can only hope that our little adventure now under way will produce something worthy of its pedigree. I'm willing to bet that it will, in time.
Since I started this odyssey on Friday the 13th, we will visit our Funky Friday the 13th every time the calendar lines up accordingly.
So, without further ado, I present the release schedule:

2009 November Friday the 13th (This is the only one which may not happen, but, if I deem the beer 'ready',)
2010 August Friday the 13th (It should certainly be funkified by then)
2011 May Friday the 13th
2012 January Friday the 13th
2012 April Friday the 13th
2012 July Friday the 13th
2013 September Friday the 13th (My 30th Birthday...Wow...that's weird to think about...)
2013 December Friday the 13th

Now, I bet some of you are wondering "He filled one barrel, that's eight releases for only 50 gallons? What is he thinking? I'm thirsty!"
Well, I plan to adopt a truncated 'Solera method' here. Common in Sherry production and high end rums, in these scenarios a cascading blending of aged and fresh Rum or Sherry is blended with older, more mature wine or spirit. Here, it will be significantly more simple. I will pull some out of the barrel for drinkin', at the same time, I'll top the barrel up with fresh Dubbel, and keep the wild yeast and bacteria well fed.
The beer will certainly change over time. I would expect it to become more sour and less oaky will the progression of time, but we won't find out until we get there.
Souns like fun to me.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Upcoming Peek Schedule

Well, things are letting up just enough down here in the cellar at Mattingly Brewing Company that we are bringing back the weekly Peek a Brew. Sometimes we will feature a variation on a beer we regularly offer, or a variation on a seasonal, or even a cask. Occasionally it it will be an entirely new creation or seasonl, so stay tuned...
Here is what I have slated for the time being:

3/4 Billy Pilgrim's Imperial Czech Pilsner (the second keg)
3/11 Homeward Brown - Dry Hopped w/ Sytrian and Kent Goldings
3/18 Homeward Brown - Dry Hopped w/ Summit and Mt. Hoods
3/25 1849 Irish Red Ale - Dry Hopped w/ Kent Goldings
4/1 1849 Irish Red Ale - Dry Hopped w/ Ahtanums
4/8 Dead Flowers Double IPA
4/15 1984 Golden Ale - Dry Hopped w/ Sterling & Mt. Hoods
4/22 Cardinal Direction Abbey Dubbel - Spiced
4/29 Cardinal Direction Abbey Dubbel - Brandy Oak Aged

All for now, however, I will also fill a couple additional kegs of Cardinal Direction Abbey Dubbel which I will inoculated with Brett. I'll then age them for six months or so before release. Stay tuned for that and others!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Smooth Sailing!

Well, folks, last weekend went much better than the previous brew session. Good friend and accomplished homebrewer, Jeff Harbaugh, pitched in on the brew day. He made quite a contribution, the recipe. We have brewed his serial award winning Irish Red Ale. Rechristed as '1849 Irish Red Ale'.
Here is the rundown on all the bling that Jeff's Irish Red Ale has brought back:
2005 Upper Mississippi Mashout 3rd
2005 Kansas City Biermeisters 3rd
2005 BUZZ Boneyard Brewoff 3rd
2005 St. Louis Brews HHHC 2nd
2006 BUZZ Boneyard Brewoff 1st
2007 AHA Nat'ls First Round 1st

This is a beer with quite a pedigree. I made some adjustments from Jeff's recipe to make it turn out properly on our system, but it has been awarded Jeff's seal of approval.

1849 Irish Red Ale weighs in at 22 IBUs and 5.5% ABV. It is ruby red in color with a toffee and toasty malt profile, floral hop presence and a soft, slightly sweet, clean finish. Great with classic Irish fare.

The name comes from the song by the Irish Folk-Rock band 'The Elders' from Kansas City. '1849' is from their first, self titled album. It tells the story of Irish immigrants fleeing to the United States from the wrath of the potato famine.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Three 'Belgians' and an Icon

The last month has been pretty crazy. Not only with all the brewing (keep drinking it, folks!) but also with all the 'networking'. Part of the appeal of getting into this profession is that our 'conferences' and 'conclaves' are often beer festivals, and our meetings, well, are almost always conducted over, if not centered around a pint of ale or lager. I've had a few out of town colleagues pass through in the last month. You may recognize a name or two.
At Cicero's Beer School on 1/21, the presenters were from Boulevard Brewing Company in Kansas City, MO, just across the state line from where I grew up. My first exposures to craft beer were Boulevard beers. I will never forget those first Boulvard Pale Ales and that first Bully! Porter was without a doubt was part of the reason I ended up making beer for a living.
Boulevard didn't send just a sales rep (just teasing, Laura and Nicole, you rule!). But John McDonald, the founder and Steven Pauwels, the brewmaster, were there, as well. John made time to talk with me about the early days of Boulevard, moving his family into the fledgling brewery when it was adjacent to his carpentry shop and about the disciplined dedication it takes to run a major brewery at such a high standard.
Steven was very encouraging about our little project in Benton Park and excited to discuss the exploratory nature of the Smokestack Series, and how his Belgian nature and experience has made the experimentation that much more comfortable. Small batch brewing, whether five gallons, 3 barrels or 35 barrels can be a lot of fun. Steven hopes to brew on our tiny system next time he's in town, after all, it is 1/100th the size of Boulevard's main kettle.
This past Wednesday took me back to Cicero's Beer School to meet Brennan Greene and Stephen Hale's good friend, Lauren Salazar of New Belgium Brewing Company. Lauren heads up the Lips of Faith Program, Sensory Evaluation, Sour Ale program and other projects at New Belgium. Brennan and I drank Mighty Arrow with Lauren after her talk and decided to head down to Bailey's Chocolate Bar with her for some more beer and discussion. Afer some 2004 La Folie (sumblime) and Le Fleur Misseur (delightful) her event at Bailey's ended and we stepped next door for a night cap. 33 Wine Shop had some North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, which I could not resist, and then we split a bottle of De Dolle Oerbier Special Reserva 2006, a funky, strong Flanders style sour ale of the highest caliber. Then it was time to go home, after all, we had Hefeweizen and Altbier to brew at the Taproom the next morning.
After we finished the double brew day and plenty of cellar work I recieved a phone call from a friend. Micah from Brasserie Brugge in Terra Haute and Indianapolis, IN. He was passing through town for the night and in search of some ingredients he was short on. We hung out at the Taproom for a while and between he and some other visitors stopping by we had a nice impromptu little party, then it was on to Buffalo Brewing Company for some Buffalo Drool, Rye IPA and chimichangas. Micah also shared some of his excellent Belgian sytle ales with us, White, Black and Trippel de Rippel.
Friday, it was back to work at Mattingly. After a morning of cellar work I trekked over to Schlafly to borrow some line cleaning gear and ran into Brennan, Lauren, Mike Sweeney and Joel from New Belgium finishing up a tasting. They then informed me that the tasting was about to Mattingly! I rushed back and put some vintage homebrew in the cooler and they showed up shortly thereafter. Following a quick tour and a brief draft tasting of Cardinal Direction Abbey Dubbel, Black Sky Stout Porter and others we got down and dirty with the homebrew. Two year old Wild Ale, two year old Straight Rye Whikey Oak Aged American Rye-Wine, two year old Saint Andrews' Strong Scotch Ale, and over a year old Pale Ryeder Palm Sugar Rye Tripel were all sampled, and thoroughly enjoyed (don't worry, they were each split 5 ways).
Lauren then had another event to host at The Stable, so I finished up my work for the day and met plenty folks down there. I had some Abbey Grand Cru with Augie Altenbaumer, who works on the bottling line with us at the Taproom for the Reserve and Bottle Conditioned Series and has been brought on as the brewer for The Stable.
We finished up with some Southern Tier Cuvee #2 and called it a night...because Mardi Gras was the next morning and there was plenty of work to be done!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

And I looked and behold, a pale horse - And his name that sat on him was Death - And hell followed with him

This past Sunday's brew, the Pale Ryeder Palm Sugar Rye Tripel proved to be the most trying brew, if not experience of my career...which has involved quite a few tribulations and trials. This slightly modified quote from the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers came to mind as I finally brought the beast to its knees...

"From the lowest dungeon to the highest peak I fought with the Pale Ryeder... Until at last I threw down my enemy and smote his ruin upon the mountain side... Darkness took me, and I strayed out of thought and time... The stars wheeled overhead, and every day was as long as a life age of the earth... But it was not the end. I felt life in me again. I've been sent back until my task is done." - Gandalf the White

Allow me to break the battle down for you, my readers.

The first brew (every brew has to be a double brew in order to yield an acceptable amount of beer) went without much event. The lauter (process by which the grain is rinsed of its sugars and the wort, or unfermented, beer is collected in the kettle to be boiled with hops) went a little slowly, but was otherwise without incident. The boil and knockout proceeded without incident, as well. As I boiled the first batch, I mashed in the second. At some point, the train derailed.

When it came time to vorlauf (recirculate the mash in order to solubilize the sugars created there and to get the straining ability of the barley husks to filter the wort to clarity) and nothing happened. It simply would not flow.
I blew air back through the collection tube and I could only get a slow trickle for a few seconds before it would sieze up. Then I under-let some water into the mash to see if that would free things up. The result was the same.
I tried heating the mash up to 190 degrees with no results. Even adding as much water as the vessel could hold to thin the mash and then again raising the temperature again brought on the same result, total stagnation. After lautering about 10 pitchers worth of the wort through a colander/strainer into the kettle, I decided it was time to rethink 'Plan B'.
I then decided it would be best to clear my head with a pint of BrightSide Belgian White and dinner, and then attack my problem from a different angle.
Coming from a homebrewing background, I am used to having equipment fail, and in general not having the resources to back up my goals. It was precisely this foundation in homebrewing that I used to slay the Pale Ryeder.
I got out my old homebrewing mash-lauter tun, the 48 qt Ice Cube I have used in every homebrewing batch since the first, fateful Weissbier, and filled it to the brim with my scorching hot, sticky mess. A tiny stream of wort appeared out of the collection tube! I had found a chink in the armor! I also have a 5 gallon bucket with a bunch of holes drilled through the bottom half that I use for soaking tank parts in another bucket full of caustic when cleaning the tanks. This device closely resembles the one Charlie Papazian has published as a cheap mash/lauter system. I used it for just that purpose.
After 5 hours of this agony, I finally had a relatively full kettle. It was far from the clearest wort I had produced, but it had an acceptable gravity and tasted fine, so I proceeded with the boil and knockout. Which, when compared to the collection went relatively smoothly.
When I removed the spent grain from the mash/lauter tun and I removed the false bottom, I found that it was packed with grain on both sides. It had completely jammed up on both sides of the very device designed to make the separation of wort and grain possible. So, even if I had some rice hulls on hand to stir into the mash and possibly salvage it, it would have been beyond saving without my drastic action.
From 7am, when I began to heat the strike water for the first mash until just after 1am when I finished the CIP (Clean In Place and sanitization) of the heat exchanger it proved to a mentally, physcially and emotionally trying day and night.
Although the volume I collected was bit short, I managed to nail my original gravity right on the head, 20 degrees Plato for the average of both batches. So it should end up a couple tenths above 9% abv and will see service in the early summer. In addition to Rye Malt, Pale Ryeder Palm Sugar Rye Tripel is also brewed with Pilsner Malt, Palm Sugar (duh), Magnum, Sterling and Styrian Golding hops and our house Belgian Yeast culture.
As it says on the back of my beloved Nort Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout sweatshirt "Never Say Die". I'm not sure if I felt more like Rasputin, Gandalf or Johnny Cash at theend of that brew, but I'm glad I got it done, and so will all of you when the beer is ready.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Beer Geek Gauntlet!

St. Louis beer geeks rejoice! The Jefferson Ave. bridge is finally completed!

If the reason for my excitement isn't immiately clear, allow me to explain.

Morgan Street Brewery, the Schlafly Taproom, Buffalo Brewing Company and the upcoming Cathedral Square Brewing Company are all more or less along a 3 mile long stretch of Olive/Lindell/Locust. 

Then we have Square One Brewery and Distillery, 33 Wine Shop and Bailey's Chocolate Bar all nestled in Lafayette Square on Park Ave.

Of course, further south we have The Stable, Mattingly Brewing Company (duh...) and the upcoming FOAM.

All of these are easily connected by if not on Jefferson Ave.

Looks like we may have to arrange an epic brewpub and beer bar crawl at some point...

By the way... Black Sky Stout Porter now on tap at Mattingly Brewing Company!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Stupid Groundhog...

It appears that little critter, Phil, was just messing with us earlier this week. This little false spring we're getting is nice, even if it is a tease, since I know we will still see plenty of bitter cold before brighter times are upon us.

The good news is that once the warm weather breaks, that means I can use the small fermenters to brew up another batch of lager, in this case, Hammer of the Gods Imperial Baltic Porter. Being a lager, it will like to ferment cool, in the 50s or so, so another artic blast will be welcome, in that sense. Hammer of the Gods will be a massive beer, I am targeting 9.5% ABV and plan to age it until next winter before serving. It will be brewed with Pilsner, Munich, Rye, CaraFa II Special, Special B, Special Roast and Caramel 60L malts and Belgian Dark Candi Syrup and hopped with Magnum and Mt. Hoods.

Next month or March, I will acquire a used Bourbon Barrel, which I have devious plans for. I will fill it with Cardinal Direction Abbey Dubbel and inoculate it with Roselare Blend. It will undergo a massive transformation and will emerge from its woody cocoon in about two years as a totally transformed beer. A portion will be pulled out and carbonated for service and the barrel will again be topped up with fresh Dubbel to mature for the next year.

Dead Flowers Double IPA, Abominator Smoked Doppelbock and Billy Pilgrim's Imperial Pilsner are all patiently conditioning in the cellar and coming along nicely. I had talked of Dead Flowers Double IPA on cask, and depending on the actual yield, this may or may not happen (such insane hop usage does have its drawback, getting less beer out of the process). After Hammer of the Gods hits fermentation row it will be followed with Sticke Fingers Rye Altbier, Old Harbinger American Barleywine and a Wheatwine. There is also Pale Ryeder Palm Sugar Rye Tripel, a Spiced Belgian Golden Strong Ale, Rye IPA and others in the works. Black Sky Stout Porter is almost ready to serve, and will hit the taps next Friday to be followed by its sibling, Black Dawn Coffee Porter. Also, Cardinal Direction Abbey Dubbel hit the taps today, and holy guacamole! it is good!

Brewed with Pilsner, Munich, Wheat, Special B and Caramel 60L malts, Belgian Dark Candi Syrup, Turbinado Sugar, Magnum, Sterling and Kent Goldings hops and fermented with our house Belgian Yeast culture to 7% ABV and 25 IBUs it is a warming, rich offering with a crisp, clean and dry finish.

See you all at the bar!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy New Beers!

I hope everyone's holidays have passed peacefully enough. I got to go home to Kansas City for a few days over Christmas to spend time with my family. My dad and I even got the chance to homebrew a batch of Sticke Altbier, which is traditional brew from Dusseldorf. It is a stronger version of the town's signature ale, Altbier, which is a copper to brown colored ale brewed to around 5% ABV and significantly hopped. The Sticke version (German for 'Secret') is usually put on tap unannounced and without signage or advertisement, so that only those 'in the know' will order the 'Sticke' beer. It was fun to get to homebrew again, something I hadn't done since our National Teach a Friend to Homebrew Day event here on November 1st.

Anyway, things are back in action at MBC. We now have BrightSide Belgian White on tap and HOPtimal Munition APA and possibly Homeward Brown will join it on Friday. I'll get a batch of Cardinal Direction Abbey Dubbel in tank tomorrow and some 1984 Golden Ale (Classic American Cream Ale) in tank early next week.

In the mean time, look for HürterBrau Hefeweizen and HürterBrau Dusseldorf Altbier in the near future and Billy Pilgrim's Imperial Pilsner in March.

Current Draught List:

Boulevard Bully! Porter, Boulevard Dry Stout, Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat, Schlafly Dry Hopped APA, North Coast Scrimshaw Pilsner, O'Dell 5 Barrel Pale Ale and MBC BrightSide Belgian White and MBC 90 Schilling.

Cheers and Beers,