Started early in the morning, don’t even think the sun had shone it’s pretty face yet. Three brewers gathered as colleagues, as friends and as collaborators. This particular day was a bit different than the day before
You see we’ve gotten pretty comfortable with ourselves over on east 6th St. We don’t see many folks during the week and definitely don’t haven’t had anyone accompany us on the days that we brew. But this particular day was different, and we couldn’t have been happier to be joined by our good friend Jake Maddux from Thirsty Planet Brewing Co. We’ve gotten to know the good folks at Thirsty Planet over the past year and Jake and I have been discussing the concept of a collaboration for some time. I mean let’s face it, we drink together, have dinner together and converse together so why shouldn’t we try brewing together. We couldn’t think of a good reason not to, so the Common Denominator was born.
Fast forward a few hours and we have managed ourselves into a pretty solid brew day. As a brewer you have little quirks that are hard for most people to understand, let alone involve themselves in. Attention to detail is important but even more so than that is attention to a process. Having a basic understanding of brewing science helps, a willingness to look past personal hygiene at times is also helpful but more than anything, brewing is a game of improvisation.
In the spirit of that improvisational nature we decided to determine our grain bill after we all arrived at the brewery, whilst standing in the grain room. It was probably quite a sight for an outsider looking in but it all felt comfortable at 7:00 AM on a random weekday. Ideas flew around, concepts discussed and processes analyzed. And after 10 minutes or so, it was set. It would be an imperial brown ale. Starting with a base of 2-Row Pale Malt followed by large amounts of Vienna and Munich then followed by 2 specialty Belgian malts and finished with just a dusting of Roasted Barley. We produced, through a moderately complex mashing schedule, a beautiful wort that was rich with fermentable sugars and held just enough dextrin to keep up the mouthfeel. We decided to use Czech Saaz hops throughout the boil in an attempt to provide a very enticing spicy aroma and a clean, crisp, classy bitterness. The real star of the show was the Belgian/Trappist yeast blend and we didn’t want to overpower the ester compliments by too much hop flavor and aroma. We filled a 3 bbl fermenter with a classy 18 Plato wort and over the course of the next 10 days, and a roller coaster of hands-off fermentation temperature control, would watch it take itself down to 2 Plato. Just to mix things up we decided to dry-hop with American Cascade hops to provide a mild citrus component with touches of pine and resin.
And in the end we created what is the beginning of many collaborations coined “Common Denominator”!
Enough talk, I’m sure you’re wondering where you might be able to try our little experiment in grammatical and Zymurgical pursuits. We’ll be holding the first tapping this Friday, 3/30 with our good friends over at drink.well. If you haven’t made it out to drink.well yet then you are in for a treat. Mike and Jessica Sanders opened the doors to this American Pub a few weeks back and haven’t had an empty seat in the house since. Both Jake and I will be on hand to answer any questions about facial hair or standard algebraic equations and the staff from drink.well will be there to show you a kick-ass time.
Please join us as we embark on an adventure of collaboration, beer will be served starting at 6:00PM followed by tappings on Saturday at each breweries tasting room during normal Saturday hours. Hops & Grain from 12-4pm and Thirsty Planet from 11-3 pm.
See you Friday!