Tuesday, May 2, 2017

How in the hell did I weasel my way into this magical experience?

Have you ever live one of those moments that while you know is really happening but just feels so surreal that that you question your own sanity? Something that you've maybe dreamed of for years, see others partake in, but are never convinced you'll be able to experience first hand? This happend to me just two weekends ago, while sitting in the back of a hot, steamy, box truck. Sometimes we sat in silence, sometimes we cracked bad jokes, but for some of us first timers it was a very unique experience. Here's some of that moment...

Oh that's just a few of us filling a coolship with 15bbl of turbid mashed wort in the back of a box truck in Southern New Jersey, no biggie. This came about because I successfully weaseled myself and Kelly Green Brewing Co.'s way into this dreamy collaboration with James & Melissa of The Referend Bier Blendery, Alex from Troon Brewing, and Amanda and Sean from Tuckahoe Brewing Co. who hosted the brew day.  After a few weeks of emails, and an in person planning meeting over pizza and beers, we all met up at Tuckahoe Brewing Co at the ripe hour of 7 am two weekends ago. 

I had worked on a much more detailed blog post recapping the brewday, but James from The Referend did such a fantastic job on a post of his own that I found it redundant so I dialed this back to my own musings on the experience. James is also a much more eloquent writer than I, and his buddy Justin takes some snazzy photos to spice it up even more. Please visit his blog post and marvel at it for a deeper look at how the day went especially since he pulled most of the weight on the day.

We set out to brew an all New Jersey ingredients Saison type thing, turbid mashed with hay and malts from Rabbit Hill Malt, coolship'd, then barrel aged with each breweries mixed cultures in their own barrels, 100% spontaneous in the case of The Referend. Once mature we plan to all reconvene to blend and package this Biere de Coupage in bottles for sale. The wait on this one is going to incredibly difficult, but like anything of value, well worth the time invested.

Sean making a nest of hay in the mash tun, which we then stirred all up mashing in anyway.
Shame, he did such a nice job ;)

Sean's nest.

Sean's nest destroyed.

Unmalted Spelt that Melissa and James harvested themselves with a real live Scythe!
Which makes the beer taste better of course.

It was an early start to the day and lasted long into the evening hours. The mash was super thick upon the first infusion of water and everyone took their turns stirring it. What made that stirring job eve more difficult was the hay substrate we added to the mash, once wet it got pretty stringy and wrapped around the paddle. The smell that engulfed the brewhouse throughout the mash was something to behold, really smelled of a farm due the use of the hay. We had hoped the hay would maybe add a rusticity to the wort, some added sugars and maybe aid in the lauter, tough to say for sure but it was certainly an interesting mash. Very milky, gooey, due to the hay, raw wheat/Spelt, turbid schedule.  At least that's what we're telling everyone because frankly we dont know why it looked like it did.

Super milky, starchy first runnings after the thick 113F mash rest.

Some nicely aged NJ grown hops from a farm nearby The Referend called The Fir Farm.

It was a long mash, combined with a three hour boil making for a lengthy brewday, but a great learning experience for me. Aside from the contribution of my mixed culture and shoveling the grain out of the mash tun with Melissa, I just kind of stood around and watched everyone else do hard work. But I did make two key contributions, I smashed the digital thermometer we relied on to measure the mash temp, end result can be seen here

But for serious, it was a super fun day hanging with some new friends. We had more pizza, shared some beers, both ours and others, and hopefully made some good beers, time will tell. But the wort that went into the coolship tasted mighty unique to me, malty, some hop aroma, but a nice slate for our individual cultures to express in. 

Here are a few keys points that everyone needs to know about this collaboration, inside jokes may abound.
  • Trenton Sheet metal is located in Trenton
  • I can eat a lot of bagels, and am an expert at spreading cream cheese, the sound effects are free of charge.
  • Sean and Amanda made a Barleywine, boiled for 9 hours, aged in a Rye whiskey barrel that is totally mind blowing. Look for it at Tuckahoe.
  • I only eat pizza when I hang out with this crew, except when I eat bagels.
  • Don't leave digital thermometers anywhere near me, I resist urges to smash them on a daily basis. You've been warned, I should have warned Sean.
  • Hilary and Blair from Rabbitt Hill Malt are good peoples, please seek out their malts, i'll be using them shortly.
  • Luckily Alex was there to pitch our mixed cultures the day after, James is out of practice but assured me Alex is an expert yeast pitcher.

James filling his coolship with sweet wort, someone tell James to get out before he burns himself!


  1. Well you sure had a great time there haha. Its always good to visit such places since we learn a lot from them. But your posts help us too indirectly.

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