Saturday, January 09, 2010

A different kind of brew day

My good friends Doug and Tracy Hurst of Metropolitan Brewing know their beer. If you're in Chicago and have tried their beers, you know what I'm talking about. However, nobody's perfect, and to demonstrate that Doug and Tracy foolishly solicited my input when developing their spring seasonal, I-Beam Alt. Of course, I wasn't about to turn them down (especially with the prospect of free beer!) so this afternoon the family and I headed up to Andersonville to help brew an 8-gallon pilot batch of Altbier.

We had an awesome time. Quasi-Metro brewer John Laffler (who primarily practices his art at Goose Island's Fulton brewery) joined us and ended up doing more work than I did, and a constant parade of visitors trickled through as well. As you can see above, having a forklift makes a three-tier brewing system a piece of cake. And as you can see below, Dorrie had a blast being chased around by Tracy and Phelps. The brew day itself went rather smoothly, save a couple issues with the burner. Needless to say I'm excited to see how this first batch comes out; the thought of having a true Düsseldorf-style Alt on tap in Chicago makes me kind of giddy.*

As a bonus, we met Robert Birnecker, the owner/distiller at Koval Distillery (which is conveniently next door to Metro). He invited us to stop by and check out the place . . . and sample a few spirits of course. I must confess I'm fairly ignorant when it comes to grain spirits (if you don't believe me, I invite you to check out my post describing my trip to a Scottish whisky distillery), so I may have missed some of the subtleties of their offerings, but I really enjoyed their Rye Chicago which was almost like a cross between whiskey and vodka. As you can see below, I'm really good at drinking things and looking like I have any idea what's going on (and that's Robert in the "Master Distiller" sweatshirt dumping yeast into the mash).

Oh, one last thing to note. Leah and I finally busted out our final bottle of Döllnitzer Ritterguts Gose so we could do a side-by-side tasting with our Gose. The result? Döllnitzer was definitely more sour, but the sour-to-salt balance was actually quite similar to ours. The two other big differences were the coriander was much more evident in our beer (though I actually liked ours better in that regard) and we had a slight fruitiness from the yeast that wasn't present in Döllnitzer. Overall, I think ours turned out pretty well considering it was our first attempt at souring a beer with lactobacillus, but I'd still like to jack up the sourness next time.

So that was our day. A little exhausting (though I'm not quite sure why since I mainly stood around talking and drinking) but a great time. Now get off your computer and go find some Metro beer!

*I guess technically I should say another true Düsseldorf-style Alt on tap since Kevin Blodger, the brewer at Gordon Biersch's Bolingbrook location, brewed an Alt last year that took bronze at the GABF, but that awesome brew was only on tap out in the 'burbs so it doesn't count. ;-)


Blogger Matt said...

Wow, that sounds awesome! I really like their Flywheel. And drinking can be tough work, don't beat yourself up about it.

7:01 PM, January 16, 2010  

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