Saturday, March 15, 2008

What's Bubbling Away

I was going to keep tight lipped about the beers we'll be brewing, but since we're getting somewhat close to releasing them (about 3-4 weeks or so), I'll tell you about what we've brewed so far.  We're brewing next week, so this won't be our complete lineup.

Batch No. 1 - Levud's (discussed in the last post) is a Belgian-style Golden Strong Ale.  This beer showcases the pear-like fruity esters from our yeast, as well as the herbally, refined hop flavor and aroma from Styrian Goldings and Czech Saaz.  It'll weigh in around 10.5% ABV.  This is a one time release, so we made a healthy amount of it.  We'll produce a little over 300 cases total.

Orchard White is our Belgian-style witbier.  We brew it with unmalted flaked wheat, oats, malted barley, corriander, orange peel, and lavender.  This is a thirst-quenching beer that will be a year-round offering.  This is one of the few beers we'll offer on draft.  We brewed a 15 bbl batch and hope it sells quickly so we can brew it again!

Black Orchard is a Belgian-style Black Wheat Beer.  This is an unusual beer, but we think this will be a popular one.  Like Orchard White, it's brewed with unmalted flaked wheat, oats, and  malted barley.  Unlike Orchard White, we have a proprietary mashing method of adding a lot of color without adding much of a roast flavor.  This beer lives up to the name-- it is black!  We also add different spices than we add to Orchard White.  This is one of my favorites, as it's refreshing and session-able but has some complexity and intangible qualities.  We brewed 15 bbl of this one as well.  With Orchard White, about 50% will be for draft, and the other 50% bottled.

Next week we'll be brewing Saison Rue and our Anniversary beer.  A little premature to be brewing an anniversary beer?  You'll change your mind when I describe what we'll be doing with it.

Batch No. 1

Batch No. 1 was brewed on Friday, March 7th by Tyler and I, and on Saturday, March 8th with the help of Loren Miraglia (one of the winners of the homebrew competition, along with Mark Graham who unfortunately could not make it), and our friend Brent Rahn.  Both days we had visitors who were eager to see the first batch being brewed.

The batch didn't go perfectly, but I'm confident the end result will meet our high expectations.  The burner system for my boil kettle was acting up a bit, so we had to watch for boil overs and occasionally turn the burners off.   I'm learning how to keep it under control so the burner has been less of an issue for the past few batches.  Our efficiency /extraction from these batches were a bit higher than we expected, so this beer will come out to 10.5-11% ABV instead of the 9.5% we were shooting for.  I even subtracted about 25% of the grain bill for the second day and still overshot my target.  I guess this was meant to be a big beer!

Thanks to Loren for making the trek out here from Encinitas, and to Brent for all of his help!  Also, a special thanks to Tyler for bringing his brewing and sanitation skills to The Bruery.  He's a very talented brewer, and the beers wouldn't be what they'll be without him involved.

Thanks to Spence Coleman for photographing the brew session!  These photos are much better than what I've been taking!

Bourbon / wine barrels and our bar.
The brewhouse / fermenters.
Brent, me, Loren and Tyler.
Tyler peeking into the whirlpool.

Vince, Heather and Kevin enjoying the humid, wort filled air, and perhaps a few beers.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Progress of the Past Year

Note: I wrote this about a week ago and haven't had time to finish up and post it until now. We have three batches in the fermenters (approximately 1,860 gallons of beer/wort) fermenting away. I'll fill you in on the last week in a day or two when I get a chance to catch my breath.


Last year around this time I was dealing with real estate brokers trying to find a place to lease. I didn't know where I was heading at that time-- I just knew I wanted to start a brewery somewhere in Orange County and I'd accept just about any building to brew in (given a few modest requirements). I had no idea how much work starting a brewery would be, and just how great it would turn out. I'm very excited about the future of The Bruery, and I can't wait to share it with you. We're on the brink of brewing Batch No. 1, which is finally happening tomorrow. We brewed our yeast propagation batches last Friday and Saturday, which went surprisingly smooth, and now have healthy yeast to brew a bunch of beers in the next two weeks.

The following are some pictures from the nine months, from empty warehouse to functional brewery:

My brewhouse in January of 2007 when I was deciding on whether to purchase it.

The picture I took of 715 Dunn Way before I leased the space.

Empty warehouse, soon (or not so soon) to be a brewery.  Taken in May of 2007.

Moving the equipment from Windsor to Placentia in June or July of 2007.

Some Pliny the Elder to celebrate moving the equipment inside the warehouse.

Cutting the concrete.

Removing soil / grading.

Vestibule framing.

Flooring installed.

Moving and mounting the glycol chiller to the roof.

Setting the tanks upright.

My beautiful wife Rachel bringing us lunch during our brewing of the propagation batch.

Under the mash tun / grant.

Finally, getting to mash in!