Some Things Never Change

So, despite living in the rural countryside of a nation where I have little social contact outside of the village, I find myself too “busy” to find time to update this little blog. Great is my shame. On the one hand, I think it’s a good sign: this adventure, this culture, and these Danes have failed to change me; my procrastinating, non-blog updating, lazy personality has remained intact! On the other hand, it confirms my suspicions that even with more time on my hands I am, in fact, a lazy ass.

Well, anyways, here’s what I’ve been up to, in no particular order:

-Joined my boss Peder at the 10th Anniversary party for Aarhus Bryghus, a cool Danish brewery located in, you guessed it, Aarhus, DK. After a bit of wandering around the massive beer tent they had set up for the party I had the honor of meeting, drinking with, and drunkenly singing Beatles cover songs with my friend Anders Kissmeyer and five of his class of 1985 (I believe that was the year) Scandinavian Master Brewers. Words cannot express how exciting it was for me to share beers, sing pop songs, and ask water chemistry questions of a table full of Norway and Denmark’s most prestigious brewmasters.

-Brewed my first three recipes for Ebeltoft Gårdbryggeri: “Danish American Pale Ale,” (a VT-style APA with Danish rye) “Jule Saison,” (basically Illumination with no dry hop!) which we have bottle conditioned, and a decoction mash Munich style light lager which is just beginning it’s long cool lagering phase.

-At the same time, I’ve been given the responsibility of producing the brewery’s classic house beers: a Danish Pilsner, an old-school American IPA, a Munich-style Dunkel lager, a Bock, a Danish Pilsner, a Belgian brown ale, an Imperial Stout (although we added a bit of Cosmos influence!), an English pale ale, and more Danish Pilsner. Did I mention that I’ve been brewing a lot of Danish Pilsner? As such, I’m learning a LOT about step mashing, decoction mashing, and the European approach to lager fermentation. For instance, did you know you can  ferment a Pils at 6 C (43 F) and actually get it to attenuate? Neither did I! There is clearly much to be learned here.

– Through some form of hypnosis, dark arts, or just getting him drunk, I managed to convince my boss to let me experiment with a spontaneously fermented beer! Our “Danish Wild Ale” is built from Pilsner malt and local (and by local I mean we drove ten minutes down the road to a local farm and scooped grain into bags by hand) unmalted rye and wheat. The next day I brewed the wort using a turbid mash (an absurd brewing technique when a significant portion of the wort is removed from the mash tun by hand, heat to near boil to prevent conversion and preserve starches, and then returned to the main mash to raise the temperature), boiled the wort for 2.5 hours, and then knocked out the wort into two old cognac barrels we had cut “doors” into. The barrels were then picked up by a tractor and placed in the Danish countryside: one spent two evenings in the orchard under the cover of apple, plum, and pear trees, while the other braved the sea breeze up on a hill. After two days and clear signs of fermentation we moved the barrels back into the brewery where they will reside for the foreseeable future… My hope is to repeat this experiment and produce a blended Danish wild ale.

As you may have gathered, things are VERY busy. And yet, there’s more excitement to come!

Next week, assuming our yeast shows up, we’ll be brewing 20 hL (that’s roughly 17 bbls) of “Le Sacre du Printemps” AKA Danish “Rite of Spring.” Boom! This will hopefully be the beginning of our brett fermented saisons here at Ebeltoft Gårdbrygerri. With the inoculation and fermentation of Rite of Spring, we will be establishing and seeding a new “Funky Town” brett tank which we will use over the next year or so for a slew of wild fermented farmhouse ales.

Oh, and I’m working on a recipe for a European IPA competition…

More updates to follow, I promise :)

Dispatches From A Danish Farmhouse Brewery

So, if you’re reading this you’re almost certainly one of my friends.  Unless you don’t use Facebook (which, if so, good for you!) or we haven’t spoken in 6+ months, you must know that I moved to Denmark on September 5th 2015.

My reasons are varied. There’s the obvious: Steve Wynn’s Temple Of Greed Casino (that’s the actual name, I assure you)  being built in Everett, MA on the site of the building that currently houses Enlightenment Ales & Idle Hands Craft Ales. Then there’s the more practical: I’ve wanted for a long time to learn more about European brewing practices and techniques. I figure that by living here and working in Europe I’ll have the opportunity to be exposed to new ideas, to travel to other countries and other breweries, and, more importantly, to ask a LOT of questions. As fate would have it I’ve been hired as the head brewer (in Danish, “Brewer Chef”) of a small farmhouse brewery in rural Denmark and asked to focus on funky farmhouse ales and hoppy American beers. Excellent! Lastly, brewery aside, I want to feel and experience what it’s like to live as a foreigner in a foreign land. I want the opportunity to view a different culture from the inside, to feel what it’s like to be an alien, and to hopeful grow my awareness and perspective at the same time.

Anyways, so that’s the reason I moved to Denmark. In the meantime, however, I was thinking it might be kinda cool to collect some of the more interesting stories, experiences, adventures etc. I’ve had over here in Europe in one place and post ’em if anyone is interested.

So, without further adieu, I present to you “Dispatches From A Danish Farmhouse Brewery.”

Hopefully I’ll have something interesting to post soon. In the meantime, here’s this:

The view from the top of the hill near the brewery.

The view from the top of the hill near the brewery.

A view from my train leaving Copenhagen.

A view from my train leaving Copenhagen.

Saying goodbye to my best friend Vahdat at the airport.

Saying goodbye to my best friend Vahdat at the airport.

A rainbow over Copenhagen just as I arrive in Denmark.

A rainbow over Copenhagen just as I arrive in Denmark.

The kitchen table in my "hobbit house."

The kitchen table in my “hobbit house.”

My hobbit house.

My hobbit house.

Sunset at the brewery.

Sunset at the brewery.

The Face of Things To Come

Soooooo… a LOT is going on.

As you may or may not have heard, Massachusetts voters approved the building of casinos here in the Commonwealth (all hail the dollar!) back in November. Unfortunately for Enlightenment Ales, this means that the city of Everett and their partners at Wynn Resorts have acquired the land where our brewery is located. Long story short, we’re moving. Where to, I do not yet know. With any luck we’ll find a new location in the next few months and be able to transition to that location without any major interruption in production…

For the time being, however, I’m going to continue focusing on turning out funky saisons, hoppy all-American ales, and the nation’s only regularly produced Bière de Champagne. Here’s what we’ve got coming up:

VERY SOON:
-MORE “Hofmann”: Double Pale Ale
-MORE “Illumination”: Farmhouse IPA
-2015 “Rite of Spring”: Rustic Saison

SOON:
-MORE “Kesey”: All American IPA (Now with extra Citra hops!)

SOMEWHAT SOON:
-“Day Trip”: Well Hopped Saison
-“Titania”: Nordic Saison
-Even MORE “Hofmann” and “Kesey”
-“Enlightenment Brut”
-2015 “Transcendence”: American Farmhouse Ale

ON THE DRAWING BOARD:
-“Propero”: Dark Farmhouse Ale
-“Verdence”: Rustic Wheat Ale

Updates to follow…

So, I lied…

…I’m only human. That promise I made you all back in August? Well, I was mistaken. It turns out I couldn’t find the time, energy, or resolve to update this site at least once a week.  But, we’re on the verge of  new year and it’s time to make some resolutions and give it another try!

Here’s a super quick summary of everything I can think of that’s happened lately:

-We brewed and bottled 10 bbl of a ‘wild American saison’ I’m calling “Things Are Beautiful.” An exercise in minimalism, this farmhouse ale was brewed with only pale malt (American pale and Belgian pils) and Cascade and Saaz hops. The crazy part? We didn’t even pitch any yeast! Wow! I know! In an act of disregarding everything I’ve ever learned about brewing from my mentor, my brewing school, or any brewing textbook I’ve ever read, we brewed 10 bbl of golden wort into a “dirty” tank that had previous aged Transcendence, my brett heavy American Farmhouse Ale. The resident microbes covering every inch of stainless steel inside the tank quickly took to it and have now fermented it down to nothing. Look for the fruity funky wild-at-heart saison this January.

IMG_1657

-“Lord Mantis”, the long awaited tribute to my friend and lawyer Phil Mantis was brewed back in the early fall and will be released any day now!

-“Hofmann” my long imagined liquid tribute to Albert Hofmann has not only been brewed and consumed TWICE since we last updated this page, the third batch is out this Tuesday 12/23. This ‘double pale ale’ form lack of a better term is an insanely juicy American ale, pale in color, a soft body and bitterness, and a massive electric citrus and tropical fruit flavor. Fresh Galaxy and Chinook hops were used in outrageous quantities to bring my homage to Uncle Albert to life. To all the hop heads out there, please tell us what you think!

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There’s ohhhhh so much more going on but I haven’t the time to tell you all! Cosmos is and out and more’s in the tank! Rite of Spring is being brewed this Tuesday into our brett tank “Funky Town.” And for all of you out there with a powerful lust for the hop, a follow up to “Hofmann,” “Kesey” is in the works for late February…

Until then, I bid you adieu!

A Long Overdue Update…

So, clearly I have failed to keep my promise to update the website blog every week… I blame myself…

Anyways, here’s what’s going on, coming up, and bouncing around in my head:

-First and foremost, I am pleased to announce the return of ENLIGHTENMENT BRUT! Huzzah! Three cheers for the most labor intensive beer I’ve ever been a part of! So yeah, we will have 70 or so cases of Brut trickling out of the brewery (as fast as we can disgorge and cork them) and into your hands a dozen or so cases a week. Look for it at your favorite bottle shops and fancy restaurants (you know, where you buy our beer normally…)
-On the Brut front, we’re in the process of planning a nice big 10 bbl batch of Brut, the largest batch we’ve ever brewed by far! My goal is to build up a nice solid base of bottles and to have it back out year round soon! It is our flagship after all…

Enlightenment Ale

-In case I haven’t gushed to you in the past few months, way back in the early Spring we brewed a collaborative beer with the one and only Anders Kissmeyer of Kissmeyer Beer & Brewing. Our creation, “Titania,” is a Nordic Saison, drawing influence from Anders’ Danish roots and our local Massachusetts terroir. The beer features heather tips, chamomile flowers, rose hips, and MA wildflower honey, and was fermented and conditioned with the Enlightenment Ales farmhouse/brett blend. Look for this artistic collaboration by the beginning of August. Oh, and here’s a cool photo of Liz’s artwork for Titania!

Liz’s artwork for Titania
-Transcendence, my American Farmhouse Ale with brett and a LOT of bright juicy American hops is currently undergoing a transformation of sorts in our newly inaugurated “wild tank.” Updates on bottling and blending this beer coming soon…

Transcendence

-So, I actually have a million more exciting updates and ideas I can’t wait to share with you all. I think I’ll save them for a post tomorrow as I’m exhausted from bottling Day Trip: Extra Hoppy Golden Ale and need to be up early to brew tomorrow.

The First Blog Post!

So, if you haven’t noticed, we finally have a new website!

I figured it would be good to start out by informing those of you who don’t know that Enlightenment Ales has partnered up with Idle Hands Craft Ales in Everett, MA. What this means, to put it simply, is that I am now brewing Enlightenment Ales beers on the Idle Hands brewhouse as well as the Idle Hands beers. Chris Tkach, my new partner in crime, is handling more of the business, distribution, and accounting side of things for both of us. Enlightenment Ales and Idle Hands Craft Ales will remain distinct and separate brands. Our doctors report that this arrangement has lowered both of our blood pressures.

“The New Regime”

The-New-Regime

“The New Fermenters”

"The New Fermenters"

“The New Kettle With Hippie Brewer Inside”

"The New Kettle With Hippie Brewer Inside"
While we’re both still getting used to the new arrangement there’s quite a lot coming down the pipeline for Enlightenment Ales!

  • “Enlightenment Brut” batch #10, the first produced on the new brewhouse, has been bottled and should be out by early July!
  • “Garrison,” the first beer in our new hop-forward draft only Emancipator Series is being kegged this week and sent out for delivery! I encourage you to come fill a growler of this 2.7% hoppy delight.
  • “Transcendence,” our American Farmhouse Ale with brett and buckets full of American hops is finally being brewed again! We hope to have the first new batch out by the end of the summer.
  • “Day Trip,” the Brussels inspired “extra hoppy golden ale” we brewed last year has been reformulated and will be making a return in the next few weeks. This year I used our Enlightenment Ales house farmhouse yeast, pale and pilsener malts, and a heavy dose of American Liberty and Czech Kazbek hops for a dry, bitter, and spicy hop character. Look for it soon!

Anyways, now that I have a bit more time I hope to actually update this brewers blog at least once a week and let you all know what’s actually going on! Thanks again so much for all of your support. I look forward to running into you all in a local bar and raising a pint together.

-Ben