Last week, I had the opportunity to brew a commercial batch of beer with my homebrew club The Brewminaries, along with our friends from Bitter and Esters at the Rockaway Brewing Company in Long Island City, Queens. Fellow "Brewmies" Barry Wasser (also from the website The Brewed Palate), Club President (Dictator) Sheri Jewhurst, myself, with Douglas Amport and John LaPolla (Co-owners of B&E) joined co-founder/brewer Ethan Long and Rockaway employee Ray to brew a 5 barrel batch of beer.
It started when Marcus Burnett, the other co-founder of the brewery, approached John LaPolla (after appearing together on an episode of Beer Sessions Radio) about collaborating on a beer with the homebrew supply store he owns with Doug. John thought this would be a perfect project for our recently founded club, our first big project actually. We Brewminaries jumped on the idea and were heavily involved in the creation of the beer from day one.
Once we were on board, the officers of the club set about to write a recipe for a beer while keeping in mind that it would be served in late April/early May. Before we knew it, we were 75 emails deep (have you ever tried to write a recipe by committee?). It took a few days but we came to a consensus and opted for a fruity Rye Pale Ale bittered with Magnum hops, hit with a wealth of late hop and whirlpool additions of Mosaic and Galaxy hops, and dry hopped with Mosaic and Galaxy.
On brew day, there was nothing that they wouldn't let us do. Throughout the day we were constantly busy, we split open bags of grain and emptied into the grain mill, we measured and added hops, some of us cleaned kegs and helped package their new Columbus Pale Ale (amazing), we monitored the boil, and John pitched yeast as I sprayed the floor with a hose. God bless their drainage system.
Before we transferred to the fermenter, the wort got a whirlpool. I don't know about you, but I see a hop "ghost" in the center of the whirlpool. The ghost of future deliciousness.
Ultimately it's true what they tell you. Brewing requires a lot of cleaning -- more so than homebrewing. Surprisingly though, I quite enjoyed it. It reminded me of when I used to bartend and how much pride I took in keeping a clean bar and let's face it; clean stainless steel is sexy stainless steel. The equipment we were fortunate enough to be invited to brew on is expensive and as stewards for the day it was important to honor our responsibility to clean up after ourselves. Though, as you can see, fun was definitely had while cleaning.
A week earlier, Sheri and I were at The Beerded Ladies monthly Beer Trivia at Glorietta Baldy with fellow Brewminary Alex Kalaf. We were bouncing around potential names when Sheri shouted out, "Ryes of the Brewminaries!" and thus the beer was named. By the way, we won Beer Trivia that night.
There was talk of biking from Brooklyn to Long Island City to celebrate the release in Rockaway's Tap Room. Stay tuned for the release date and details on that.
We also plan to host a release at Covenhoven, our favorite local beer bar and bottle shop that happens to be close to Bitter and Esters, where the Brewminaries meet monthly and where we all gathered to celebrate the brewing adventure and hold our first full meeting on the same glorious day. Cheers!