As you may have heard via Twitter, here, or elsewhere, Peter and I brewed the first full batch of Odonata Beer's Saison yesterday! It was quite an amazing experience - months of paperwork, talking, planing... whatever - it all came to a head when we started milling our malt, to put into our beer! Incredible feeling, really. I can't wait for this beer to be released, can't wait for you to get to try it and see what we're all about. It's been mentioned before, but this will be Odonata's flagship beer, available year round in 22-ounce bottles.We arrived at the brewery at 8:00am, coffee in hand and full of anticipation. Our first thing to do was get the grain sorted to be milled. We needed close to a ton of grain, so we lined/piled up the sacks we needed around the mill and started in - milling one 50-pound sack at a time.
The base malt for Saison is a Pilsner malt. We also added about 20% wheat and a few specialty grains. It didn't take long to realize the 8 years of writing for a living did little to prepare me for actually working - lifting sacks and stuff. I think I did alright, tried to not complain, even though I was quite embarrassed and in a bit of pain (yes, all you veteran brewers, I'm soft). Peter, of course, made it all seem easy.Once the grains were milled, it was onto the brewdeck to start the mash (Re: Brewdeck - think brewer equivalent of the bat-cave - it's where all the fun happens, with switches, buttons, levers and gadgets). Once the hot water and grain mixed the whole room smelled of fresh biscuits - it was awesome! This step required a lot of patience in order to maximize our efficiency (get as much sugar from the grain as possible). In fact, it was well over three hours before all the mash liquid was transferred to the boil kettle. Don't worry though, turns out there's stuff to do in the mean time: sanitize fittings, test pH, gravity... the time passed by pretty quickly.
Once all the liquid was in the kettle and brought to a boil we made our first hop addition, the hops that were to be boiled for 90 minutes and lend the beer's moderate bitterness. As cool as hops are, and as sexy as people can make them on TV ads, this step is actually pretty benign. Yes, the hops smell awesome, but really it's a matter of weighing them out in a bucket and then dumping them in a boiling liquid - there's not a lot of romance here. I wish there was. We added hops twice more (which officially makes our beer triple hopped, I guess) and then turned off the kettle.
The yeast for this beer was actually in the fermenter already and had been "growing" since the day before, allowed to eat up roughly two barrels worth of wort. We pulled the hot sugary liquid out of the kettle, ran it through a heat exchanger to drop the temperature to 'pitching temp' (about 70 degrees) and then placed that all on the happy, multiplying yeast cells to let them work their magic: eat sugar, make alcohol, CO2, repeat. The beer today (roughly 12 hours into fermentation) was rocking at 74 degrees and pushing a lot of CO2 - it's a very happy beer at the moment.
We've got lots of pictures from the day that was. If you'd like to see them all, click here to see the whole set on Flickr.