Sunday, September 2, 2012

Stepping Out and Up

A novel thing happened to me on Friday. For the first time I visited a brewery (that wasn't Goat) and it was for work.

The Goat crew got together for the train ride out to Woodend, where we arrived at Holgate brewery just in time to see their bottling system in action, and for us to help out. Was happy to see their Temptress chocolate porter was being bottled this day. Of course there we a few low fills from it so we could sample the product while we did a brewery tour with Paul. Like Goat they are starting to run out of room in their brewery, and are using the space as efficiently as possible, including the bottling area. Was great to see their system going and hope we can take something from it to improve our own bottling process at Goat.

I guess after finishing the bottling before lunch, it became a long afternoon of 'tasting' the vast array of beers they have available at the pub that is connected to the brewery. Seeing it had been November since my last visit to Holgate, there were many to try, including a gruit that I think had a good level of citrus and spice. The few gruits I have tried tend to be too big on the spice, but this one had a good balance. There was also the ESB and Temptress to taste from the handpump (the best way to have these beers), the latter I had with the pork belly I had for lunch (the sauce itself was amazing). Like the last visit there was a very special beer for us to try, but fortunately my taste buds were a little worn by the time it came around. The Dunkelweiss is a good change up for the brewery, with the yeast/wheat character coming across quite well, and the dark malt character working nicely as the days of winter retreat.

Ok, from here it gets a little hazy, and to say the least, it was an interesting train trip back to Melbourne. Still, big thanks to Paul and Nick from Holgate, and the staff from Hart's pub.

Having stepped out of Goat to visit and learn from another brewery, I guess it is appropriate that Stass and I have also stepped up in our own brewing, to learn and hopefully produce better beer.  So now instead of taking over the stovetop at the Stass residence to do our brewing, we can now do it all from our new Braumeister, to get us starting on all grain brewing. It's only taken about 5 years and me actually working in a brewery now to do it, but hopefully it means we are doing it the right way, and it can start making me better technically and open a new world for us in the beers we can brew. Still, it doesn't mean we will be losing our experimental edge, especially with the first all grain brew we do. Attempting a clone of Southern Tier's Creme Brulee Imperial Stout means we will need to do a double mash for the first full mash we ever do. Unfortunately, we are still having trouble just trying to get a bottle of the original to taste off, or in the case of Stass, to actually taste for the first time. So yeah, a big call to start on this type of beer, but then it is us, so to be expected. At least Stass won't know when I stuff it up. Luckily we are also going to start using some brewing software as well to help us along.

So here is to understanding beer better.



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