It’s every homebrewer’s dream: leaving the garage and getting to brew your beer at a real brewery.
Last month, I was lucky enough to do just that.
As the winner of 2012 Boscos/Bluff City Brewers Pro-Am competition, a qualifier for the Great American Beer Festival Pro Am in Denver, I brewed my Red Hop Ale on the professional system at Boscos Squared in Memphis.
The Red Hop Ale, an American Amber/Red Ale, was inspired by Green Flash Brewing’s Hop Head Red. I tried it in California a couple years ago and it left me wanting to brew a hoppy, red beer.
Working under the tutelage of Boscos founding partner Chuck Sypeck and head brewer Adam Hargrove, we adapted my 5-gallon recipe, scaling it up to brew on the 7-barrel system at the brewpub.
On brew day, fellow FuzzyBrew blogger and homebrewing buddy Grant Smith was able to join me. Adam was gracious enough to let us do most of the work while showing us how to operate a system that was far more complex than our homebrewing set-ups.
It was undoubtedly one of the biggest thrills of my life, and Grant and I took plenty of photos, from start to finish.
The Red Hop Ale recipe called for 540 pounds of grain: 450 pounds of pale ale malt, 40 pounds of Caramel 40, 40 pounds of carapils malt and 10 pounds of roasted barley.
A view of the spotless mashtun from above, before adding in the grains.
Here’s me adding in a 50-pound bag of grain. The process of brewing at a brewpub is similar to homebrewing, except for the scale. Instead of a spoon for stirring, we used an oar.
Grant (left) and Adam at work on a narrow ladder. The brewery at Boscos is tiny, and three people is probably the most that can work in it at any one time.
Here’s a shot of me, taken from the restaurant looking into the brewery, as I stir the mash. Brewing is not easy work! My shoulders were sore the next day.
During the sparge, the wort was drained from the mash and the grains were rinsed with hot water.
A first look at the red ale as it’s moved into the boil kettle. The roasted barley gave the beer its nice color.
Steam rises from the kettle as it fills up with wort.
The Red Hop Ale was brewed with Columbus, Centennial and Cascade hops.
Adam documented every step and measurement throughout the brew day.
Unlike homebrewing, where hop additions often measure less than an ounce, at a brewpub you may add a pound or more at a time.
Ready to add the first hops into the kettle. The smell was glorious.
Here I’m adding 50 grams of gypsum, which helps bring out the hops.
After the mash, it was time to clean out the mashtun.
Grant shovels the spent grains from the mash tun. We filled up three trash cans to the very top.
A view of three of the fermenters at Boscos.
You can see how cramped the brewery is in this photo. Here, Grant operates a pump.
Red Hop Ale is about to go into this shiny fermenter.
Grant meticulously sprays sanitizer on the fermenter.
Action shot! Here I’m pitching the yeast. After that, we quickly sealed up the tank and we were done.
Inside the kettle, the bottom was caked with hop residue after the beer was moved to the fermenter. I got to spray it out as the clean-up started.
Another shot of the brewery as Adam cleans up.
To get the kettle REALLY clean, Adam jumped in and scrubbed it out, capping off an incredibly fun day.
The Red Hop Ale is now on sale for a limited time. And as part of a special charitable fundraising effort, Boscos will donate $1 for every pint of Red Hop Ale sold to the Mid-South Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, so grab a pint soon.
Thanks to Boscos and the Bluff City Brewers & Connoisseurs, I’ll be traveling to Denver in October for the Great American Beer Festival Pro-Am competition. The Red Hop Ale will be competing against other beers from teams of homebrewers and craft beer professionals from across the country.
Thanks again to Chuck and Adam for this once-in-a-lifetime experience!