does one begin on their beer drinking adventures? We all have
stories to tell and share but sitting here writing this on
how I arrived at this juncture is pretty interesting.
My thirst for beer started as a kid. My Dad worked for a Pabst distributor in Saginaw MI; now back then, this was not a beer I would drink as it was not to my taste; along with Shultz, Buck Horn, Black Label, Gobles, to name a few. My first taste of a good beer in the 80's was Coors and this was due that Coors was still illegal east of the Mississippi. While in Iowa, I had a training class and brought back a couple of cases; man it was good! (Well until it became legal in Michigan that is). Time went on going from beer to beer drinking but no real enjoyment.
Then in the 90's I was out in San Jose, California with a co-worker (Perry L.). We ordered our beer and he did not like it and asked if I wanted it, it was a Hard Cider. Wow! Talk about a "beer" with flavor and refreshing. That sent me on a fruit beer path for many years to come but I was still looking.
Then in the 00's while traveling overseas really opened my taste buds to beers that were available in the states but were not my taste. Well that changed on a trip to the Netherlands at the Heineken brewery. The beer was flavorful and fresh. Then traveling to other places like London, India, Paris (Desperados is still one of my favorites), my taste buds were really opened and I came to realize that beer in America, at that time was what, a punishment? Geez.
Then in '08, another co-worker, (JJ), knew of my thirst for beer and suggested we go out to a place he knew and I agreed. He knew I would like it. Well, "like it" was a understatement. It was a Dogfish Head beer. My first Dogfish Head beer was the Fort, a $25 bomber but worth it and it changed me forever. For the next several years, I was sampling and hunting out these beers, which in FL they were scarce to non-existent. My quest for a 120 took me to the ends of everywhere but I could not get my hands on a a single bottle for years.
In '10 Carmen and I were on vacation in Maine and while driving through Boothbay there was a banner over the road, "1st Annual Maine Craft Beer Festival" featuring Dogfish Head. Well, I quickly bought tickets that day and found that Sam C. was going to be there with a keg of 120s, yahoooooo. So my 120 quest "ended" with my 1st being served by the creator. What a great day that was! Little did I know at the moment this photo was taken that the path to being a brewer lied ahead...
Now, I was on a quest for more. In my search of 120s, Fort, WWS and Olde School, in the state of Fl., I went everywhere looking but found nothing . Finally, in Nov. 2011, while in Ocala, Fl., I found a case of 120s and could not believe it. In my excitement, I asked what the purchase limit was and the store replies with how many did I want. Well, there were 24, so 24 it was (sorry Ocala) and um, $300 please!!! Yikes! I was hooked. I had to have it (It is 2014 and I still have 12). So out the door I went with all the people inside talking about the price and how crazy that was for someone to spend that type of money on beer but I was ecstatic. Then, about 30 feet out the door, while carrying my case of 120s, grinning with the anticipation of opening that 1st bottle, it hit me! (Well, besides, dude, you just dropped $300 on a case of beer, well awesome beer :-) ) I thought that, if someone could make a beer that could make someone do this, why couldn't I do the same? So I stood there in the parking lot @10 p.m., 120s in hand staring at the sky and thinking "Home Brew", yeah, I can do it...
Three months later, after studying how, a push from a friend that gave me a few brewing items from when they stopped brewing after a few attempts to brew themselves, I began to brew my first batch of Brewers Best India Black Ale on 2/15/2012 BUT I was not happy with the kit. I thought, this is not way I intend to brew. I know what I want and what should taste exceptional. So, I added +1oz Cascade for dry hopping and 1.5lbs Dark LME, now that is beer... This beer was a big hit with all who tasted it, so that cemented my brewing path, that big is better and I do not care what the designers of these "Betty Crocker" kits think, my way is better... After brewing 5 more, Jerry, myself cranked up the kits; it was time to go all grain. The kits were a good stepping stone to brewing and I learned a lot from them BUT it was time to have 100% control.
After several months of studying, I built my Mash Tun with copper manifold from a 100 qt cooler I had.
The Wort chiller was made from some 3/8" copper and a boat pump and transmission cooler I had lying around.
Then worked on getting a Grain Mill, extra pots, etc.. and did a few test runs with water to figure out my temps and times. Then on 6/14/2012 I brewed my first 'All Grain'. I called it my "IPA Experiment" and went big, really big, I thought, at the time.
10 lb Briess 2-row from Rebel Brewer
10 lb Gambrinus Pale Ale from Rebel Brewer
5 lb Briess - 6 row from Homebrew in Dallas
2 lb Briess Cara Brown from Rebel Brewer
1 3/8 oz Warrior pellets
1 oz Citra pellets
1 lb Belgian Candi Sugar D-90
1 pack Dry Yeast Saflager w-34/70, 11.5 g package
1 lb DME - light
1 lb Corn Sugar
1 lb Cane Sugar
SG = 1.104, FG = 1.030 == ABV 10% , well IBU was quite lacking for a IPA but learning...
Here are my notes on this beer:
This was a really high malty beer, the Belgian candy sugar went really well, liked by all.
Entered this into the SAAZ 9/28/12 contest but went nowhere; not sure why at this point but think it was due that it needed more hops to balance it out for an American Old Ale, 10/7/12.
Drank the last of this on 6/7/2013 and have to say it was really malty and tasted realllly good! Carmen wants me to make this one again, contest or not it did not matter as is and was an awesome brew...
Now without realizing it, in making these big beers over the next few months I was on my path to brewing 'Parti Gyle' style from the fact that I was using 30-40 Lbs of grain for 5 gallons of finished beer. I started doing 2nd running's of the same grain to make a lighter beer and all of this just seemed logical. The 2nd runnings was basically free beer. Then, started to do 3rd running's for session brews. I would get a 1.093, 1.063 and a 1.033 from a single mash and after the 60 min. boil the SG's would be about 1,100, 1.075 & 1.050
Parti Gyle history
Parti-Gyle brewing is not a new method it is one technique that has almost disappeared from modern practice.
The method goes back hundreds of years, and many modern sub-styles are examples of light and heavy versions made from a single mash. Examples include the various weights of English and Scotch Ale, various grades of Bock, and even variations of Trappist ales. In the 1700′s and 1800′s it was very common to create a strong beer from the first runnings of the mash and a lighter common beer from the second runnings of a mash.
This technique involved drawing off the first part of the mash and using it to make strong ale or barley wine, then remashing the grain and drawing off the second runnings for a more ordinary, weak, and watery concoction called small beer, the light beer of its day.
The fabrication possibilities of the time made it relatively easy to construct large wooden mash tuns, but the technology required to construct equally large kettles had yet to be developed. Consequently, English ale breweries often made three brews from a single mash - strong (XXX), common (XX), and small (X) beer. In fact, this is the historical basis of the categories of Belgian Trappist beers: triple was made from the undiluted wort from the mash, double was made from the runoff from reflooding the first mash, and single was made from a subsequent infusion.
Well, sooo much for your history lesson today. This is the method of brewing we use and plan to stick to as this is a very unique brewing style in which the possibilities are endless and it takes us back to a time when beer was beer for the people...
Then after the next 14 or so Brewing sessions, Carmen was complaining of the mess, me taking over the kitchen for hours and back porch. So, it was time to change my brewing method and go bigger to get out of the house. This sent me on my next venture of Electric brewing. I knew that gas was not the way I wanted to go due to the expenses, all the extra bottles and burners, noise and smell, and just $$$. So, I set out on my electric adventure over the next few months of studying and planning and built my own electric brew system. I bought most of the parts online, then as you can see, used old computer CPU heat sinks on the SSR's and CPU fans for extra cooling. The electric box was made from scrap roofing material I had in hand.
On 2/3/2013, almost a year later, from my first brew on the stove my first Electric Brew was created.
Within time, I was making more and more beers, so the move to buying 50 lb sacks to save money was the next logical move. Below are a couple of my grain supply runs.
Below is my fermenting room.
Then with all this beer, of course, a Keezer is needed. I built this from a Kenmore Freezer I picked up on Craigslist, a 2x8 from Lowes and a Johnson Digital Temp controller. The Keezer 14 cornys, 1-20lb co2 bottle and many growlers of beers from the past brews. Then if you notice, built the taps so they can be stored on the inside of the Keezer. Thought this was a great option due to the Keezer being on the back porch which could cause the taps to get hot in the summer time, yuk!
Now, this brings us to 2/4/2014, 2 years after my first beer with the dreams of opening my own brewery and pizza place so everyone can enjoy Parti-gyle style creations.
Well, it is not a easy process of opening a brewery. Have been working on this for 3+ months now and still going. All the hoops to jump through, legal this and legal that. Four pages on wastewater, just a joy, but we know it will be worth it...
We hope you will agree.