This installment is a Guest Blog by one of the winningest homebrewers I know: Tim Roets. As grand prize for the 2012 Byggvir's Big Beer Cup, he won a special brewday with Mike Hoops of Town Hall Brewery! This is Tim's account of how the day went and should serve as inspiration for folks to enter the upcoming 2013 contest which features another chance to win this amazing opportunity!
|Town Hall at 6:30 AM|
With temps expected in the 90s on brewday, Mike Hoops had no problem convincing me to get to Town Hall early and get right to brewing our version of my 2012 RennFest BOS Kolsch that will be entered in the Pro-Am competition at the Great American Beer festival in Denver this October.
First thing for those who haven’t met him – Mike is an incredible guy who truly understood how much this brew meant to a homebrewer like myself, and made sure that it was an experience. With the opening of their new Town Hall Lanes this week, he had been running hard for weeks doing setup and said he was relieved to be able to spend a day at the brewery just brewing with me.
Town Hall brews on a 10-BBL system that is visible from the back dining room, and has several 10 and 20-BBL fermenters in that space – 20-BBL batches are brewed in a double brew. Downstairs are more fermenters and brite tanks, barrels, grain/hop storage, a cooler and a small lab, where Mike keeps the meticulous records needed to be a commercial brewer.
|Tim gives us a gun show!|
Keeping track of each step of the process on a clipboard, we worked steadily in the small but surprisingly spacious brew area. He let me work at every step – wielding the mash paddle, loading grain in the auger, adding the chemicals and the hops, scrubbing down the fermenter and removing 8 garbage cans of spent grain from the mash tun with a well-used garden hoe on the way to being Grade A pig slop.
|The dirty work! And a sweet shirt...|
We even toyed with the recipe and added a bit more of the nice, mild Hersbrucker hops he had on hand at the end. During the breaks in the action, we chatted over coffee, discussed water chemistry and surprising details (The Germans say Kolsch should have a pH of 5.6-5.8!)
|Tim hopped up on brewing|
Cool stuff in the barrels, too, a “Manhattan” (up-North cherry-juice style, we both agreed) Cherry Grand Cru aged in Bourbon barrels and a dark one with Kumquats and chocolate! He was also excited about the challenge brewing a American-Style Lager for the bowling alley to replace the PBR, and had some sweet old-school logoed bowling-alley pilsner glasses arrive as we were speaking.
|Hoops doing something scientific in the lab!|
We had some lunch over a nice season Calypso Pale Ale, finished up, then hung out in the bar sampling and hanging out with the staff until almost 5pm! It was an incredible opportunity, and one of the best reasons to enter homebrew contests. Thanks to Mike Hoops, Gera and Eric (for pulling off the amazing prize!) and all the friends and JABers who attended the Byggvir awards ceremony last year, and I hope to see all of you at Town Hall when we tap it in about 6 weeks!
Then on to Denver….