Picture taken on our parade route as we made the final turn down Holt street. (Thanks to Justin at Stlhops.com.)
Ha! You didn't think I could do it did you!? Well, its here. Blog II. Day II. And now, for the hard part. A topic. Well, lucky for me Jake has given me that!
Today we (me) will tackle the underbelly of what we learned jumping from home brewing to the big top. The joes to the pros. The Pet Rock to Mount Rushmore.
Firstly we learned that homebrewing is cheap and professional brewing is darned expensive. Actually, expensive isn't really the right word, (neither is 'darned') more like "financially crippling". But everything worth doing takes some effort so we'll not dwell on that. The phrase 'it takes money to make money' applies....
Anyway, Homebrewing is as awesome as Big Time Brewing, but there really are some big differences other than scale....as we have found out over the past year. We brewed in my basement on a 10 gallon system made by Sabco, which is a keg servicing company out of Toledo Ohio. Our Homebrew rig was (and is) very fancy and made some pretty good beer. It would normally take about 20-26 lbs of grain per batch, a few ounces of yeast, and depending on the beer around 8-12 ounces of hops as well. Brew day was about 6 hours and included either a trip to Mom's Deli (up the street from my house) or some grilling in the yard while refereeing our dogs. Oh, and many games of Risk and Darts. This is what homebrewing is all about.
Brewing down at The Civil Life is pretty different despite the fact that the processes really are largely the same. We still use the same products from the same companies but the difference in quality seems to have taken a step up. Why? Well, as a homebrewer we'd usually have lots of open bags of malt around soaking up ambient humidity, hops fending off freezer burn, yeast vials that were fresh but small and therefore often barely up to the task, and a water filter that would filter 12 gallons of water in about the same amount of time that it takes my 1984 Volkswagon to warm up in the winter. On top of that, its kinda easy to say 'I'll do it tomorrow' when you don't really want to go back down to your crappy basement. Now don't get me wrong- our homebrew really did turn out well and it was a lot of fun, but man I'll tell you what its awfully nice having bigger fancier equipment that will make 600 gallons of beer in the same amount of time....
And to that effect, what we've experienced at The Civil Life has been overwhelmingly positive. Our grain mill zaps our malt into perfectly milled grist wicked fast (no more noodle arm!), our auger takes it to the mash tun without Mike flinging dust in my face, our Mash tun has an automatic rake (ok, it still needs some work) that mixes our malt and hot water, our boil kettle gets a raging boil and our Fermenters maintain exact temperature. When you add in that we are using malt super fast, our yeast is shipped overnight, and we have a food saver for our hop pellets we have nearly perfect brewing opportunities.
Now I'm not poo-pooing homebrew at all. In fact you really can make world class beer in your basement. The big difference between our homebrew escapades and our wading into the realm of professional brewing is that now we have our processes better managed, our tools are more up to the task, our ingredients are at an all time high, and we don't have 3 dogs doing the hokey pokey during knockout.
All of this is to say that I'm really excited about our new brewing venture. We are finally able to take our recipes and get the most out of them and share them with you proudly. Our equipment provider Premier Stainless really did a great job with our equipment, and Adler did a great job showing me and Mike the ropes. I kept asking where the "make beer" button was during installation.... somehow it never got a laugh.
Dylan Mosley is the Civil Life’s Brewer. He is also responsible for changing out the pirate flag every 8 months. His annual compensation package here is directly related to the amount of time his beard is a minimum of two inches long.