Sunday, March 6, 2011

Iron Brewer - Maple Shade, NJ - 02.05.11

The Iron Hill Brewery in Maple Shade is the unofficial home of our homebrew club, Barley Legal. The club has experienced significant growth recently and also celebrated it's one year anniversary in January. It's amazing that we're close to 150 members. As a beginner, the knowledge shared by more experienced club members has been a huge benefit. If anyone in the area is interested in joining, please drop me a line or visit the Barley Legal homepage for an invite. All homebrew enthusiasts are welcome! I've also added a RSS feed to the right so brews and beats will stay updated on all things Barley Legal.

So... back to Saturday. It was a busy day at Iron Hill because Chris LaPierre and crew were brewing their golden barleywine beer, The Situation. This involved two separate mashes of pilsner malt to achieve the high gravity needed for the barleywine. I heard 880 pounds of pilsner mentioned at one point...not sure if that was one mash or a total of both. Since the wort needs to be at such a high gravity, the brewers only take the first runnings. The second runnings of each mash was then given away to members of Barley Legal for a competition called Iron Brewer.

The concept is pretty simple: Five gallons of the second runnings are given out to 20 lucky contestants. What you do with the wort is up to you, but it has to fit within the rules of the competition found HERE. Everyone then brings their finished beer back to be judged. The winning recipe is brewed and served at Iron Hill. The winner gets to brew their beer with Chris and receives a year of bragging rights. It's a lot like Iron Chef in the sense that everyone starts with the same base ingredient. Creativity counts!

I was fourth person to receive wort from the PM session, which usually yields a higher gravity wort. Sure enough this held true since the wort I brought home was around 1061. I think the first runnings started below that. This is what made the competition so unique. You knew the base ingredient, but weren't sure about the gravity you would end up with. Overall I was pretty happy with my spot and altered my recipe to accommodate. I won't disclose my entry just yet, but I'll say it's based on a traditional 19th century German recipe with a modern twist. In the meantime here's some pics of the afternoon:

What you're playing for... the plaque to your own brew and bragging rights.

Mash tun getting a workout

My keg getting filled with that sweet pilsner wort. It smelled great in the brewery!

Chris hard at work in the name of Iron Brewer

Chris and our fearless organizer, Brian

Jim's phone doubles as a door stop

Chris and Vince collecting more wort

The last of the wort down the drain... criminal

Lager tanks

Beer Lines

Hops! Shocking...

The starter I prepared on Wednesday, looking good.

Transferring the wort.

Boiling away...

The only casualty of the day. Luckily it wasn't filled with anything of value and no one was injured.

BIG fermentation after only a couple days. Things are looking nice already

This was such a fun day overall. Thanks to all involved with organizing and good luck to all!

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