Yes, I am late posting about this. I do apologize, I was in a rush to get things done before my vacation and left this post a little too late. However, it was a really good event and the first of its kind in the South Okanagan, so I wanted to make sure to give it some attention.
This event was the creation of CAMRA SO’s Home Brewing Liaison, Eike, our President, Kim, and Kari and Brent from Square One Hop Growers. Entry was limited to 10 brewers, but otherwise open to any brewer and any style category. It was held at Square One’s beautiful location on the Upper Bench, off the road to Naramata. Many of the hop bines were still hanging in the yard, giving it a very appropriate ambiance!
We were all a bit nervous the day of, as when holding an event for the first time there’s always concern that something may go wrong, or even worse, no one will show up! The brewers were all getting their tables ready when I got there. I had volunteered to serve for a friend of mine, Steve (who you may remember from my post on A Guy With A Shovel Hop Yards) who made an ESB fresh hopped with his own Centennial and Cascade hops.
Due to the damp weather, the brewers were setting up inside of the shop building (that was under construction when I interviewed Kari and Brent earlier this summer). It was a good thing the construction was finished, as it was nice to be out of the wind and rain. We were also sharing the space with racks and racks of drying hops, which lent an enticing aroma to the space. Wine Crush Market was also on site, serving the most amazing stuffed beer burger on spent grain buns – it was life altering! Their wood oven was set up outside, which also added to the aromatics of the farm! We were ready to go!
At first there was just a trickle of people coming through, some clearly recognizable from the local beer scene. Then more and more people started arriving, people I had never seen before. I started to wonder what was going on when one old fellow kept asking the different brewers about how beer was made, and was quite surprised to hear that it ferments in a process similar to making wine! Square One is located in the middle of Naramata’s winery belt, and so it seems a number of wine-tours had seen the cars parked outside and wandered in, thinking it was a winery event! Brent and Kari had also erected signs on the popular KVR trail beside their property, drawing in a number of curious neighbours and hikers.
There was an incredible amount of people, and great exposure both for the home brewers that were competing as well as for craft beer and homebrewing in general. Square One were great hosts and gave demonstrations of their hop harvester as well as tours of their hop farm. As well Shawn from Kelowna Brew Supply competed and brought some brewing equipment down to display and was able to answer questions about homebrewing ingredients and equipment.
I did get a chance to get outside of my booth and sample some of the competitor’s goods. I was so impressed, everyone had a beer that I absolutely would have had at least another glass of (if not several). The winners were all very deserving: Marc with his Chocolate Chip Cookie Ale took 1st, 2nd was Evan with his Area 34 Milk Brown 34C, and 3rd was Brad with his Slippery When Wet Hop Pale Ale (Brad’s dry hopped version was also very good!).
The success of this event was discussed at our last CAMRA SO meeting, and we’ve all agreed it will be held again on the 3rd Saturday of September next year. The main issue this year was that notice for the event was a bit short, so I’m hoping that if we can give brewers more advance notice next year we’ll have even more talented brewers participating!
Another successful Brew Day! My Dad and I are working on solidifying a recipe for a Black IPA. Malts were 15lbs Pale, 1.5 Carafoam, 1 Munich, 1 Victory, 1 Crystal and 1/2 Chocolate. The mash smelled so good, and we hopped with Magnum, Chinook, Simcoe and Citra. If it works well this will be brewed again for a homebrewers beer exchange coming up!
Brew Day! Today we brewed a recipe my mom had been requesting for a while – a Cascadian Brown Ale. A big grain bill, 12 lbs of 2-row along with a lb each of choclate, caramel and midnight wheat. Hops were Northern Brewer and Cascade, it will be dry-hopped with Citra later. I’m very excited to see how this one turns out!
A few weeks ago I got together with my Dad to brew beer. My family has a vineyard and has been making wine for many years. I started to get into drinking craft beer just about the same time as my Dad was. From making wine we already had some of the equipment necessary for brewing, and this past fall he got serious about home brewing and bought the rest of the equipment necessary to brew. His decision to brew probably had something to do with cost of buying good beer, whereas I really want to get in and make some creative concoctions using local ingredients.Since it’s his equipment, I’m assisting for the time being until I can prove that I’m capable of using it on my own. My Dad is a huge IPA fan, so what we brew will be on the hoppy side of things.
When we met up we weren’t too sure what we wanted to do. Our last brew together was a bit weak on the body, and in my opinion a bit overboard on hops. This above image isn’t the starting recipe, but the brewing notes. I added it at the beginning here to give a better idea of what we did as we went along.
The grinder has been a big pain in the ass, it isn’t a high-grade piece of equipment, and frequently gets stuck grinding, especially with finer grinds. After half an hour of fidgeting with it, I suggested we grind coarsely, then dump it back in at a finer grind. This isn’t ideal, however, as the size of the final product isn’t reliable, and we produced more flour than we would have wanted. We learned at a CAMRA meet up recently that we can maybe fix this problem by putting an o-ring on the moving roller in order to maintain friction on the static roller. That would be a much cheaper fix than a new grinder for sure, so I look forward to trying that out.
Our outdoor brewing set up, complete with brew dogs. We mash in the middle cooler, and sparge from the top cooler. We have some issues maintaining temperature on colder days, but today it was fairly warm out, so this helped keep the mash at the right temperature.
Adding the grain into our mash tun.
The mash-paddle, affectionately known as “The Zombie Killer”. I’m telling you, don’t mess with a brewer in the zombie apocalypse.
After we combined ground-up malted grains, and hot water, we let it sit for a while creating a watery porridge-like substance – The Mash. Once drained the liquid beginnings of beer are known as wort.
While waiting for the mash, we had a nice, healthy lunch along with a couple glasses of the IPA we made last brew.
We drain a small amount of wort out, and the suction draws the grain husks towards the spigot, creating a natural filter bed from the husks.
Then we drain the wort from the mash tun into the boil kettle. Once we have drained the mash tun, we add more hot water from the cooler up top and repeat the process. This is called sparging, and it ensures that we have gotten as much of the usable wort out of the mash as possible. Don’t you love all these strange old brewing terms? I’ve been having a tough time myself figuring them all out and using them properly.
We spent a few minutes trying to figure out which hops to use. I wanted to do something a bit less hoppy than our previous brew – as that one had so many hops there really wasn’t any other flavour present. We have some dried whole hops from our friend who grows locally, Steve, and selected his Chinook as our main bittering hop.
We tossed in the sack full of 2 oz of Chinook and started up the boil
Watching the wort jump up and down in the spyglass is always a fun way to pass the hour while boiling
Our brew-dog, Bohdi, kept an eye on things for us as well
Stirring after an addition of Amarillo hops. I kind of feel like a witch at a cauldron, except what I’m brewing is probably much tastier.
The last addition of Amarillo hops, at 5 minutes left in the boil.
Setting up the Therminator heat exchange, to cool the wort quickly in order to reach fermentation temperature and minimize the risk of infection from the temperature “risk zone”
Whirlpooling – stirring the wort to create a vacuum to settle out the hop particles before straining the wort out of the kettle
Checking the temperature on the wort as it fills the fermentation vessel – a highly technical food-grade plastic bucket in this case
Draining out of the kettle
Mixing up the yeast, Safale US-05
Hops and other remnants -known as trub – at the bottom of the kettle. The round can thing is called a hop collector and helps keep the larger particles out of the finished wort as we drain it out.
Almost finished, we’ve just pitched the yeast in, and are about to oxygenate to stimulate the yeast activity
Oxygen tank and a microbubbler stone to create small bubbles of oxygen in the wort. The yeast needs oxygen to survive, so introducing small bubbles ensures that the bottom of the wort doesn’t become a dead zone for the yeast and stall fermentation.
Our oxygen tank was out of gas and we had to resort to vigorously stirring by hand. Here’s hoping it turned out okay!
The final product – well not completely. There are a few more steps taken to get rid of sediment, and I think he may have dry-hopped it too. I’m hoping to be able to stop by my parents this weekend to check in on how it went, and see if it’s ready to try yet. I’ll be posting an update once I do!