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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Brewing can be a zesty enterprise!

Being the bad Christian that I am (or perhaps the good Christian I ain't), I decided to spend my Easter helping Terry and company brew a new beer at the brand new, not-even-open-yet Pizza Boy Brewing Company. This beer was extra special because Deuane and Carolyn's friend/brewer/brewpub owner Jean-Sebastien was visiting the area from Canada in order to attend the Craft Brewers Conference in Washington, DC held during the previous week. He is the owner and head brewer for A l'abrie de la Tempete in Quebec, a French-speaking providence of Canada. In order to make this Saison/Biere de Garde hybrid, Brewslut and I were relegated to zesting and juicing 50lbs. of navel oranges. Much to our chagrin, Terry brought a single zesting device (sorry, but I am unfamiliar with the correct nomenclature for said device) so one of us zested whilst the other juiced. 

Our tools of the trade.
I opted to zest, and I thought it would be less sticky. I was correct. In addition to the orange zest and juice, the recipe also called for fir tree needles and a touch of smoked malt, both of which were brought from Canada by Jean-Sebastien. He also smoked the malt himself. I felt like packing it into a bong and smoking it, it smelled so good! (I'm kidding... don't do drugs, kids.)

These fragrant fir tips were put in a large tea-bag and steeped into the wort.

After about an hour of zesting, I started to get a cramp in my hand, so Deuane took over my duties for a while. Jean-Sebastien and Brewslut each took turns juicing. Dan and Kristen eventually showed up, so Dan helped with the oranges as well, giving Deuane and I a bit of a break from the tennis elbow blues. Overall, I think it took us about three hours to successfully zest all of the oranges. 

Zesting my life away!
Once we finished zesting and juicing, we gathered the bucket of zest and container of freshly squeezed juice for the next step of the brewing process. The fir needles were submerged into the juice and added to the wort via a tea-bag (as mentioned above). The zest was also added directly to the wort. 

Deuane zesting the last orange!
Al, owner of Al's/Pizza Boy eventually stopped by as well and helped zest a single orange. He did, however, bring two growlers of Pizza Boy goodness (Sunny Side Up with Little Amps, a personal favorite of mine, and Ninja Snipa, which Jean-Sebastien absolutely loved). He was also gracious enough to bring a bunch of food for us all, including salad, garlic bread, asparagus, and linguine with clams. 

More zesty magic... my favorite pic of the day!
After the wort had boiled, I caught a whiff of the steam when Al opened up the tank, and I must admit that the smell was amazing! You could really pick out all of the individual ingredients, especially the orange zest, fir and smoked malt. I can't wait to taste the fruits of our labor. Brewing can be a zesty enterprise, indeed!

Group shot (l to r: me, Brewslut, Terry, Kristen, Jean-Sebastien, Dan and Deuane)