Saturday, November 14, 2009

Brew Meister Monica

I've drank my share of beer in my life. My first taste was when I was 7, and expressed curiosity when my uncle Mike Forrestall was drinking it, and he said "You want a taste?" I took a sip, wrinkled up my face in disgust, said "Ewwwwww" and didn't taste the stuff again...till high school.  For teens in Nova Scotia, it was the drink of choice: Alexander Keiths beer was brewed in my old home town. (Canadian beer on average has a higher alcohol content than US beer: Keiths is 5%.) And it was amazing how slack pubs were, back then about asking for ID. Me and my girlfriends, all 16 years old, had regular Friday nights at a bar a mile or so from our neighborhood.
But up till last week I'd never tried to make any. On my trip to Albuquerque, I visited Kelly's Brew Pub (an Albuquerque landmark)  on Route 66 to make a batch myself and learnt a lot. Love that the brewery is located in an old garage (below) The Old Jones Motor Company built in 1939. Lots of character, with old gas pumps out front, surrounded by tables and chairs.
Beer making central is down the hallway in the back. Here guests can sign on to make their own kegs, and it's where the in-house brew master makes beer for the restaurant. Today, he helped us make one of my favorite beers, Oatmeal Stout.
He pulled out the recipe, and we got started.
First step was measuring out all the grains. They are stored in big plastic bins and you scoop it out with a big scoop and then weigh it on a scale to make sure it's correct. Its very much a science, and too much of one grain will drastically effect the flavor.

Scooping out some of the grains for Oatmeal Stout.
After measuring out all the grains, we poured it into a grinder (that looked pretty homemade). This isn't to pulverize the grains, just to open up the husk, the beer master explained, so they can absorb water and ferment. 
Then the ground grains are poured into the copper tanks to begin the process. I stirred a bit, to speed up the soaking process with a big stainless paddle (below).

We added two large plastic pitchers of syrup (left) and then let it cook. The whole process in-house takes an hour and a half. Then there is a two-week aging in keg period, which are kept in a chilled room in another building behind the brewery.
Then, it's either put on tap at the brewery (like my batch will be) or it's bottled up, labelled with labels that are custom printed for visiting beer meisters, and picked up. It's a popular thing apparently to do for corporate events and weddings. That would make a fun take away gift for a bachelor, or bachelorette party!
                                                                  Stirring the mash.


  1. Sounds like fun! I want to try this one day... How about a Forrestall Stout?

  2. Forrestall Stout! It's got a ring to it.