Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Day with the Devil and the Dark Lord

KC Hop Head and I put together a brew day bringing together homebrewers, people interested in learning about homebrewing, beer nerds (including fellow blogger Bull E. Vard), and friends. I've been wanting to make a Duvel clone for a while now, so I chose it for our brew day. It's a Belgian Golden Strong ale whose name means Devil - presumably because it appears so innocent and harmless, until it reminds you that it's 8.5% ABV. I got the clone recipe from Jamil Zainasheff's book; KC Hop Head brewed up a milk stout from Northern Brewer that came with a novel for instructions, and his buddy Ryan made an American Brown. We were all having a great time, but the hardest part about a brew day party is paying attention to your brew while you're busy chatting, drinking, joking, and generally focusing on other things. Most of your time home brewing is spent waiting, making it too easy to be distracted. Thankfully, a coworker/friend of mine had a timer set on his phone to keep us on track.

The Duvel clone goes something like this:
  1. Fill the brew kettle with water, light the burner, and wait about an hour for the water to heat
  2. Turn off the burner, add the grain, and wait about 90 minutes to mash the grain
  3. Remove the grain, light the burner, and wait for the wort to boil
  4. Boil, add the hops, and wait another 90 minutes to finish the boil
  5. Turn off the burner, start up the chiller, and wait about 45 minutes for the wort to chill
  6. Add the wort to the carboy, pitch the yeast, then wait a few weeks
  7. Transfer to a keg and wait a few days for the beer to carbonate

So during all that waiting, we were all having quite a bit of fun and had a few (relatively expected) mishaps - KC Hop Head had a boil-over, I let my mash temp get a couple degrees too low and I forgot to take my yeast starter out of the fridge to let it warm to room temp (someone saw it and reminded me, thank goodness). At the very least, we were still all pretty good about sanitation - one of the most important aspects of home brewing.

Amid all the brewing, we managed to get in a few games of washers (thanks to KC Hop Head's homemade washer 'kit'), as well as some games of horseshoes in our newly-installed backyard horseshoe pits. And, with about half a dozen homebrewers there, we shared plenty of homebrew and rare commercial beer. I got to try KC Hop Head's Hop Explosion, which was a very well balanced double IPA - nicely done! Another home brewer brought over a very delicious Abbey ale, and we shared our IPA, Maibock, Mild, and what's left of my haul from Philly (I was so happy to share one of the Dogfish Head 90 minute IPAs - that was my first foray into imperial IPAs and has a special place in my heart).

Toward the end of the night, KC Hop Head dug out the prized posession of the night - a bottle of Three Floyds Dark Lord. For a few bottles from Boulevard's Smokestack series, he got the bottle of Dark Lord as well as some Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout and ... other stuff - I was too anxious to try Dark Lord to remember what else he got.

This "Gargantuan" Russian Imperial Stout is sold at the brewery on one day per year - the last Saturday in April. This year, the brewery sold "Golden Tickets" ahead of time, which granted you the ability to buy up to four bottles of the stout. This results in pretty steep demand for the brew, as well as beer-geek jealousy over those who possess a bottle.

And it's no wonder why. This is one big beer that's heavy on the mouthfeel and amazing in flavor. Its consistency is described as motor oil, its flavor like molasses, and its aroma as charred fruit. All of those are true, and we all also agreed that the carbonation and roasted maltiness hits you on the roof of the mouth. (yes, I know that's not the best glass for the beer, but it was either those or the martini glasses...)

Overall, Brew Day 2009 version 1.0 was a success and I'm already looking forward to the next. Send me a note if you're interested in attending. Learn about homebrewing, try some new and different beer, and meet some laid back and fun people who share a love of craft beer.

1 comment:

  1. The funniest part of the day was when Dave from Belton Brewing sucked the wort siphon for the milk stout because we were too lazy to go fill up the siphon again. The beer fermented quickly thanks to your powerful sucking Dave! Go go ghetto milk stout!


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