Switching Careers: Building a Brewery

Well well well. A homebrewer who has a dream of opening their own brewery. What an original idea right? Lets face it if you are a homebrewer the idea has crossed your mind. “I make good beer that people seem to like. I am going to make it professionally and sell it!”. Then they tend to look into what actually goes on at a brewery and they learn that their dream of brewing beer as a career is actually 90% cleaning, 9% legal paperwork and 1% making beer. Not to mention running a business is completely different than a hobby. Also worth mentioning is the ever growing saturation of the market. By the time a new brewery opens they have to fight to get a line at a bar. They have to struggle to sell their IPA on a shelf with over 100 IPAs already.

So why am I going into it and what is “it” exactly? “It” is Reverence Barrel Works. If the name doesn’t already give it away Reverence Barrel Works will have barrels. Lots of them. If you have run into me in online communities or in person you know what my favourite beers are the funky and/or sours. Reverence Barrel Works is going to essentially be a mixed fermentation warehouse. Not a single beer will be made without Brett. Reverence Barrel Works will be in house sales with next to no distribution. So that is the “what” now here is the “why”. My day job is OK but I can’t see myself being here until I retire. My dads family is nearly entirely entrepreneurs. Great grandfather? Moved to Canada during WWII to start his own business and succeed. Grandmothers brother? Started his own business and retired a happy man. My father and his brother? Both run a business. My Mother? You guessed it business owner after retiring from a 30 year nursing career. Relatives still over in the Netherlands also for the most part were business owners prior to retiring. Way back in the 1500s an about 15 x Great grandfather owned and operated a small brewery in the Netherlands. Maybe it’s in my blood. Maybe it’s cause the Dutch are stubborn as mules and hate to work for other people. All I know is it has been a dream to be a business owner since I was very very young.

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How and why in the saturated beer industry? Small, in house and niche. I’ll be starting out by contracting a single brew as the brick and motor location is established and built. once the location is up and running it will be a ~3 bbl system with barrels upon barrels of funky and/or sour beer. The “big guys” (craft breweries in stores and in every bar around the area) can fight among themselves with distribution and all that stuff. With tapline “bribes”, hop contracts and the loathed LCBO I struggle to see how and why I would want to go big. Smaller means less employees and I can focus on small sales of higher end products than bulk sales of standard pale ales. Sure there will be a few specialty bars that focus on my kind of beer that I will try to be in, but for the most part this will be a brewery to customer transaction. With the availability of online sales with direct to doorstep shipping in my area I can supply sour and funky beer lovers with the beverages they love in the comfort of their own home.

There are a lot of people I want to thank for getting to this point. The fine folks on the homebrewing subreddit, the old homebrew ledgends like John Palmer for teaching me in the beginning, my local homebrew club GTA brews, Escarpment Labs, Blogs like Brulosophy, The Mad Fermentationist and The Sour beer Blog, everyone who has contributed to Milk the Funk, the IRC crew, my family/friends and last but not least my extremely supportive and loving SO. She tolerates quite a bit of my BS and understands what being a small business owner will do to our relationship.

I plan to still be actively involved in the homebrewing culture and to hopefully work with educational folks like Escarpment Labs to bring more knowledge to the beer industry and hobby. I also plan to continue sharing recipes and techniques. I wouldn’t be where I am without other sharing so I will pay it forward. Thanks to everyone for the support! It’s a slow and legal path to opening a brewery but I look forward to following in my family steps of becoming a small business owner.

If you want to follow along and watch the building of my brewery check out and follow Reverence Barrel Works on Facebook and Instagram.

Cheers,
MD

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Coconut Kveik Porter and the Intertap Stout Spout

20106901_10155300774730336_2096033250_oWith all of the easy drinking yellow beers I have been enjoying for the summer season I have begun to miss some of the darker styles. After recently doing an English barley wine with coconut brew day at Toronto Brewing (Now sitting on some B. Claussenii) I had a craving for some sessionable summery coconut beer. After brainstorming I decided to go with a porter as the base beer. Influenced by the BYO article from Nov 2016 I went off to figuring out a recipe. Back in April I brewed up a Baltic porter that I then added some Wyeast Brett Lambicus to secondary. I nearly didn’t Brett it because of how delicious the porter already was. So I scaled down and slightly tweaked the recipe to have a lower OG. Then I hit a roadblock.

Lagering fridge decided it doesn’t want to hold lager temps anymore. 60 F is the lowest it will go. So my yeast choice of Wyeast Bavarian lager was out of the question. Good thing I recently discovered how Hornidal Kveik strains if treated properly can exhibit lager like flavours.

For the coconut addition I decided to used unsweetened shredded coconut. 2 pounds of it. 1 for mash and one for a flameout/whirlpool addition. I read quite a few places that you need to be “cautious of the coconut oils and the head retention”. Not sure if these folks ever used coconut oil before because the oil solidifies and floats on top of most liquids unless at/over 76 F.

Kveik Lager

Water:

  • Calcium: 100
  • Chloride: 60
  • Sulfate: 50
  • SO42-/Cl- ratio: 0.8

Mash pH 5.3

Mash:

  • Mash in at 153 and hold for 60 min. 1.5 qt/lbs
  • Raise via induction to 168 for 10 min
  • Fly sparge with 168

Grist:

  • 76.9% Thomas Fawcett Maris Otter
  • 10.3% Thomas Fawcett Pale Chocolate Malt
  • 5.1% Thomas Fawcett C45
  • 5.1% GWM C120
  • 2.6% Weyermann Dehusked Carafa III
  • Added 1 lbs. of unsweetened shredded coconut to the mash

Hotside

60 min boil

  • FWH with UK Phoenix for 20 IBUs**
  • 15 min Whirlfoc+nutrient
  •  10 min added 4 IBUs of UK EKG
  • Flameout and whirlpool 1 lbs. of unsweetened shredded coconut
  • Add 1 ml/gal of Madagascar bourbon vanilla
  • Chill to 95F

Cold Side

  • Pitch Escarpment Labs Hornidal 1, 2, 3 blend (150 ml starter for 5.5 gal of wort)
  • Let free fall to ambient (68-70 and ferment there)

Stats

  • OG: 1.052
  • FG: 1.015
  • ABV: 4.9
  • IBU: 24
  • BU/GU: 0.46
  • BHE: 79%
  • Fermentor Volume: 5.5 gal
  • Packaged Volume: 5 gal
  • Carbonation: Kegged to 2.2 Vols

**I calculate my IBU of FWH the same way as I do with 60 min boil additions as I find FWH calculators widely vary. YMMV.

I went on vacation for a bit so I let this beer do its own thing for 2 weeks. Every time I use this yeast blend I am shocked by how clean it is no matter how much I try to stress it. It is no surprised that the land that harboured the Vikings also harboured These Kveik yeasts. Stuff is beastly and versatile.

Intertap Stout Spout

19814200_10155300776400336_476671790_oI had been eyeing this item since before I build my Keggerator. Our good freinds over at Brülosophy did a good job of convincing me that this may be a great substitution for a full nitro set up. I decided to pick it up for this specific brew to see how well it performs. For only $15 it was hard to pass up. After a few “test pints” I settled on a serving pressure of 9 PSI for my set up.

I am honestly blown away. A $15 investment and I have a 95% match to a full nitro setup. A few areas that is is lacking is that it still has some carbonation (albeit very minimal) and it has slightly larger bubbles in the head. The creamy mouthfeel is right there though. For fun I tried the beer with the standard nozzle and then the Stout Spout side by side on the same PSI. Massive difference. Almost couldn’t tell they were the same beer.

20048628_10155300772650336_1077873367_o.jpgFor anyone who fell in love with the rich creaminess of Guinness and other nitro ales this is a must. I couldn’t justify ever spending the full amount for a nitro setup when I have such an easy and economical solution like this. 10/10 tell your friends about it. For those curious I have my regular set to low carb serving pressure (9 PSI) and just leave it at that. No fuss. Pints take about 1:15 min to settle. A little top up is then needed to fill the glass. Cannot wait to try an ESB in the fall.

Kveik Lager Review

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Appearance:
Pours “like” a nitro served beer. Cascades a bit quicker and has slightly larger bubbles. Solid tan head that stuck around for the entire 20+ min it took me to write this review. Very dark but when held up to a white LED it is clear with ruby and garnet highlights. Laces the glass heavily.

Aroma:
Chocolate and mild notes of blonde coffee. Pleasing background hints of coconut. Aroma reminds me of the chocolate macaroons my mom use to make. Some mild dark fruit from the grain that reminds me of plums. Faint strange tropical estery flavors that I cannot quite put my finger on.

Mouthfeel:
Creamy. The Stout Spout certainly did not disappoint. Medium body and still has a faint tingle of CO2 carbonation on the tongue. Somewhat makes me think of a hybrid between fresh cask ale and nitro pours. Silky and mouth coating. Slightly sweet but not cloying.

Flavour:
Similar to the Aroma. 65% chocolate with blonde coffee and some raw coconut. Mild fruity esters and a slight hint of vanilla. Caramel, wafers, toast and biscuits are in the background. Restrained roasted character and slightly sweet.

Overall Impression:
I could have fooled myself into thinking it was a new Guinness product. The mouthfeel was very close. very approachable and nostalgic feeling that makes me think of first discovering that dark beer wasn’t nasty ash liquid. Could use some tweaking but overall I am very happy.

Next Time:
I think I will take the mash coconut addition and combine it with the flameout addition to increase the coconut flavour. Next time I think I will up the IBU 3-4 more to combat the slight sweetness. I also may choose to ferment it with WLP007 for more attenuation and more fruit esters. I was not aiming to be able to taste any vanilla so I will scale it back probably 15% just so it help boost the coconut flavour.

Cheers,
MD

 

Wild Saccharomyces Results plus B2017.2

Oh yeah. That feels nice to finally have in my hand. This past summer I harvested some wild yeast off of some berries in the bush. Wild Yeast Isolated covers the back story. The beer came out quite pleasant. Notes of honey dew melon, poached pears, banana, green peppercorns, clove, cardamon, sage and light citrus. Finishes dry with a white wine/dry mead like quality.

First fermentation had an apparent attenuation of 96%. Flocculation was medium/medium low. Alcohol tolerance so far is happy at 7 ABV upper limits to be tested still. Ferments happily from 66-77 more ranges to be tested. This weekend is going to be brew 2 with this yeast.

This batch will be a Belgian pilsner base with some Munich and Melanoidin. Bittering with German Magnum. This time around because of the honey dew flavours I am going to use some German Huell Melon hops at flame out and dry hop time. Ale will be named Melon Head Gildemeester.

The barley wine in chugging along just fine right now and will be oaked this weekend. The black NEIPA hybrid recieved it’s final dry hop addition and will be packaged this weekend while the Melon Head Gildemeester is being brewed.

Aside from the brewing schedule there are 2 up coming competitions I will be entering. first is a small group competition called the “Winter Warmer” happening early February. I am mainly just looking for feed back here on 3 brews in this one. I have already entered them as 16A, 21B (Black Imperial) and 25B (Standard Pale). The second competition is a Great Lakes Brewery and Short Finger Brewing Co. collaboration called “SFBC X GLB HOP SHOP IPA CHALLENGE”. As from the name you can guess its only a competition for IPAs. Again I have 3 submissions all that are yet to be brewed. 21A with a NEIPA build, 21B (revised Black Imperial) and 28A (21A NEIPA build fermented with a unique Brett courtesy of Escarpment Labs.). After that it is back to regularly brewing.

Cheers,
MD

02/13/17: Beer won 3rd place in a local competition under saison category!

Last Weeks Brew B2017.1

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Well by those hops you may have guessed it was an IPA! You’d be correct. Went for a NEIPA mashed up with a Black IPA. Style Nazis be damned as I will call it whatever I’d like. Pretty smooth brew day. Over shot efficiency and boil off rate leaving me with 1/4 gal less than I was hoping for and 0.005 higher than anticipated OG. I thought of diluting with water but decided to head home instead and rest.

Barley Wine is chugging away at 57% attenuation its 11.3 ABV in just 1 week! Next weeks brew is a toss up as my yeast starter isn’t err… starting. Will need to assess the yeast this evening and decide from there. That being said, next week is going to be a mixed fermentation from bottle dregs OR if that fails a Kviek.

Barley Wine Brew day review and Black NEIPA V1 recipe

New year new brew. Enjoyed a night of 100% mixed fermentation ales ranging from local brew pub ales to the great Cantillon ales. Unfortunately due to legal issues my dregs jar was confiscated and those lovely critters are gone down the drain. Next time I will have to be more discrete.

Anyhow prior to NYE I brewed up a barley wine. That BW has been named Treacherous. The drive to brew day was a blizzard with quite a bit of traffic due to a semi-truck crash. Here are the original anticipated Targets

Targets

  • OG 1.125
  • FG 1.030
  • IBU 80
  • SRM 15
  • ABV 12.5
  • Final volume ~3.5 gal

Here are the actuals

Actuals

  • OG 1.143
  • FG N/A
  • IBU 80
  • SRM 17-18
  • ABV N/A
  • Final (fermentor) volume: 3.75 gal

Call me Mr. Efficient. It’s a good thing my yeast starter was overbuilt! I will ferment this out and then sit on some oak for a few months before bottling for next winters enjoyment.

This coming weekend is my first attempt at a “Black NEIPA” ish beer.

Black Juice

Water:

  • Cl:SO4=2
  • pH: 5.35

Grist:

  • 81.5% Thomas Fawcett Pearl
  • 10% OiO Toasted Flaked Oats
  • 8.5% Weyermann Carafa Special III

Mash:

  • Thickness of 1.5
  • Mash in at 149F and hold for 60 min
  • Raise temp via induction to 168F and hold for 10 min
  • Fly sparge with water at 168F
  • Collect 6.5 gal of wort

Boil:

  • 30 min total
  • 15 min 1 whirlfloc
  • 15 min yeast nutrient
  • 5 min 1 oz Citra 12.2% AA
  • Chill to 185
  • Whirlpool at 185 for 15 min 1 oz Citra 12.2% AA
  • Whirlpool at 185 for 15 min 1 oz Galaxy 14.9% AA
  • Whirlpool at 185 for 15 min 1 oz Amarillo 7.8% AA
  • Chill to 155
  • Whirlpool at 155 for 15 min 1 oz Citra 12.2% AA
  • Whirlpool at 155 for 15 min 1 oz Galaxy 14.4% AA (different crop)
  • Whirlpool at 155 for 15 min 1 oz Amarillo 7.8% AA
  • Chill to 68

Pitch Vermont Ale Yeast at a rate of 1 000 000 cells/mp/P

Dry Hopping:

  • 7 days prior to packaging 1 oz Citra 12.2% AA
  • 7 days prior to packaging 1 oz Galaxy 14.4% AA (different crop)
  • 7 days prior to packaging 1/2 oz Amarillo 7.8% AA
  • 3 days prior to packaging 1 oz Citra 12.2% AA
  • 3 days prior to packaging 1 oz Galaxy 14.4% AA (different crop)
  • 3 days prior to packaging 1/2 oz Amarillo 7.8% AA
  • Cold crash and gelatin 36 hours before Packaging

Hope you all enjoyed the update

Cheer,
MD

 

End of the Year Reflection

With just a few days left in the year I have 1 brew left to do. The yeast starter is burping away as we speak, the grain bill/hop schedule is already written out and set in stone, the water profile has been determined and I have a strong idea of where this brew will take me. The 2016 barley wine is on its way.

This time last year I did not have much under my belt. About 20 brews of which none used a yeast starter, water chemistry, actual hop AA, or anything other than “Well this sounds good”. This year my brewing knowledge and experience grew exponentially. My beers went from hit and miss decent brews to near bulls-eye awesome brews. A few earlier in the year were off their mark but, every brew gets closer and closer to what I want my brews to be. I have begun to dabble in sours. I have started to care for my water. I have began to manage my yeast. I have really started to focus on why I use certain grains/hops.

There is still so much to work on though. I have set a few goals for my “Brew Years Resolutions”.

  • 25% of my beers are going to be mixed/non sacc fermentations
  • I will build 2 temp controlled fermentation chambers with remote access.
  • Enter over 12 beers into competitions
  • Start kegging
  • More water care
  • Grow my own ingredients
  • Blog every brew + updates
  • Share even more of my creations

I really hope to achieve my brew year goals. With the recent gift of all 4 brewing element (thanks to my supportive sister and parents) I hope to grasp more of the science behind the brews I am creating.

To get a head start on one goal here is the next brew recipe.

2016 Barley Wine

Water

  • 85 Calcium
  • 26 Magnesium (water isn’t that great)
  • 14 Sodium
  • 75 Chlorine
  • 90 Sulfate
  • 1 Bicarbonate
  • Mash pH 5.4
  • Thicknes of 1.1 qt/lbs

Grist

  • 97% Thomas Fawcett Maris Otter
  • 3% Thomas Fawcett Crystal 45
  • 1 oz Thomas Fawcett Roasted barley as a colour adjustment

Mash

  • Mash in and rest at 100F for 30 min (Acid rest A)
  • Raise via induction to 113 for 15 min (Acid rest B)
  • Raise via induction to 130 for 20 min (Protien rest)
  • Raise via induction to 145 for 45 min (Saccharification Beta)
  • Raise via induction to 156 for 30 min (Saccharification Alpha)
  • Raise via induction to 168 for 5 min (Mashout)
  • Sparge with 168F and collect 7 gal or less if runnings drop below 1.020

Once the runnings have been collected the wort will be boiled down to about 4 gallons with a target OG of 1.120-1.130

When the volume is around 4.75 gal the 60 min boil addition schedule will begin

Boil

  • 60 min 1 oz Phoenix 13.35% AA
  • 15 min 1 whirlfloc tab
  • 15 min 1 oz Phoenix 13.35% AA

Ferment with WLP007 at a pitch rate of 1.25 millions cells/ml/P

Ferment ambient at ~70F

Targets

  • OG 1.125
  • FG 1.030
  • IBU 80
  • SRM 15
  • ABV 12.5
  • Final volume ~3.5 gal

Next week I will post how brew day went and the next planned brew. This one is for a competition!

Cheers
MD

Wild Yeast Isolated

This past summer I collected some berries and plopped them into a small sample of wort. One sample was filled with wild raspberries and the other had black berries. After a few days the samples began to ferment. I took these samples to a local yeast lab (Escarpment Labs) and had them isolated. In all two strains of Saccharomyces as well as what is thought to be Hanseniaspora uvarum were discovered. One of the Saccharomyces was able to ferment a wort of 1.052 down to 1.000 in just 7 days! I will soon be picking up some test samples and fermenting with them. I plan to brew an “All Ontario” Saison with the powerhouse Saccharomyces. Yeast had an apparent attention of Over 95%! The yeast has been unofficially named Gildemeester ale yeast.

All Ontario Farm Ale

Grist:

  • 8 Lbs. Barn Owl Lager Malt
  • 2 Lbs. Barn Owl Munich Malt
  • Mash in with a thickness of 1.6
  • pH of 5.35
  • SO42-/Cl of 2.0

Starting mash temp 113 and ramp up to 148 over 45 min.
Rest for additional 40 min before raising temp to 168 for 10 min
Fly sparge at 168 with 4.5 gal of distilled water.

Boil:

  • 60 min add 2 oz Ontario Crystal 3.21% AA
  • 15 min 1 whirlfloc tablet
  • 15 min add add 1 oz Ontario Crystal 3.21% AA

Chill to 68 and collect 6 gal of wort.
Pitch MWY001 (Blackberry Saccharomyces) at a rate of 750000 cells/ml/P.
Leave in primary for 21 days.
7 days before packaging dry hop with 1 oz Ontario Crystal 3.21% AA
Package and carbonate with 3 vols.

Targets:

  • OG 1.048
  • FG 1.001
  • ABV 6.2
  • SRM 5.75
  • IBU 28

Brewing of this ale will happen mid-late December and, will be enjoyed in the new years.

After this Saturday I will have finished brewing the first version of my house stout, IPA and Belgian golden ale. The BSDA on Brett is slowly fermenting away. RIS is coming out of the barrel, lambic is going in this Saturday. I plan to brew 3 batches next month instead of the standard 4-5.

Cheers,
MD