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