Craft Community Crossover: Home Brewers Visit the Pros
At 7 a.m. on January 13, 2017, the Fraser Valley Fermentalists homebrew club gathered at Fuggles & Warlock for a collaboration brew. The beer was a twist on our award-winning Drunken Pig mesquite-smoked bacon bourbon porter, the beer that earned us this opportunity to brew with the big boys. We used the same porter recipe, but switched the mesquite-smoked malt out for peat-smoked, and omitted the bacon and bourbon.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable day for the club. Some of our members have brewed professionally and others are considering it or working towards it, so we were all excited to brew with some pros who have made a name for themselves in the BC craft beer scene. We weighed out the partial bags while pouring 25 kg bags of malt into the mill. When the hopper above the mash tun was full, we added water to hydrate the crushed malts to fill the tun. Waiting for the 60-minute mash, we set up a loop to sanitize the fermenter, hoses, and pump that we would use later in the day. When that was running, we were ushered into the tasting room for samples of their delicious beers. After a nice break, we were back in the brewery to lauter and sparge. When we had collected our wort, we heated for the boil and emptied out the mash tun. As soon as the boil began, we added our first hops and headed back to the tasting room. After another round of tasters, we went back to the brewery for the aroma hop addition before cooling the wort through a heat exchanger and moving the beer into a conical fermenter. We pitched the yeast and retired to the tasting room for a celebratory pint.
Fuggles & Warlock were amazing hosts. They really stepped back and let our club members get some hands-on experience with a commercial size brewery. Thanks to Dan, Tony, Mike, and the rest of the crew for embracing the home brewers and inviting us into their brewery for the day.
This is not the first time I have brewed in a commercial brewery as a prize from a home brew contest. The first few times were at DIX Barbecue and Brewery, where I was lucky enough to have my own IPA recipe served to DIX patrons. Tony Dewald was the brewer at that time and he was happy to show me the system and explain his methods. He stood back and pointed while I did my best to understand the unmarked manifold and move liquid around the brew house. At the end of a very exhausting day he told me, “you could do this.” For the next month when I visited DIX, I drank pints of the IPA that I created, and was filled with pride and accomplishment. I also won an opportunity to brew with Timmy Brown at Mission Springs in a Vanbrewers contest, and years later, a chance to brew my winning beer at Parallel 49.
Most of the brewers I have met are amazingly generous people who are passionate about what they do and are excited to share their knowledge with others. I have learned almost as much about brewing from talking to brewers as I have from brewing. Many of my close personal friends are people I have met through the beer community and I am incredibly thankful to have them in my life.
Now go make some beer, and make some friends too!