I harbor this secret fantasy of moving away from the big city, living off the land, brewing beer and feeding the people I love. This fantasy will become a reality one day- mark my words, but until then, I am thankful to be able to work for a company that shares my enthusiasm for these things. Most recently, Chef Gabe invited a handful of fellow beer enthusiasts from the Lazy Dog team to join him for a home-brew class. Gabe taught the class and supplied all of the materials- nothing fancy or expensive, just a chance to share and learn (and drink) with like-minded colleagues.
It started with a brief email from Chef Gabe that went like this:
“Here’s the plan: You come here, I show you how to brew, we brew, we laugh and talk, we leave, we get back together to bottle and taste, you leave with some bottled beer and lots of good memories. – Chef Gabe”
Epic email. I know.
So I marked the calendar “BEER DAY” with 5 shades of highlighter and braced myself for the best Thursday ever. Fast-forward to the Wednesday before and we are in the middle of a new menu change, and the Marketing Team is swamped, so we can only send one participant to partake. Dana Ball.
Dana, a Lazy Dog veteran server turned Marketing Assistant extraordinaire, is the first person that comes to mind when I think “beer lover” and the obvious choice to send to the front line. So come Thursday, after promising to bring back beer to share, she was off to the Brea Test Kitchen for a day of beer making.
The following day, we sat down at the office and she filled me in.
Me: Hey Dayday (her nickname in the marketing department), tell me everything.
Dana: Where do I start? I mean being a craft beer advocate, I was super excited when Chef Gabe offered to teach a class on home brewing at the Lazy Dog Brea test kitchen. I was also very happy to learn we were brewing one of my favorite styles of beer being a Belgian Saison.
Me: Rad. So what is it about Belgian Saison that you admire? Do you have a favorite Saison you would recommend?
Dana: I love the complex taste. Light, yet sweet, and kinda funky flavors that a Belgian Saison offers. A few of my favorite Saisons are Ommegang Brewing – Hennepin, The Bruery – Saison Rue, and Epic Brewing - Elder-Brett Saison…
Me: Hold on, adding to my grocery list now….. OK, so tell us how the day went.
Dana: Remember that email Gabe sent? That was pretty much how it all went down. Long story short, beer is made of 4 ingredients; water, malt, yeast and hops. We boiled gallons of water to make a final 5 gallons of beer. We mashed at 153 degrees. Mashing means to combine the grains and water to create a malty liquid called wart. The next steps require a lot of waiting so I’ll skip that. But we picked our own hops from Chef Gabe’s garden, we tasted some craft beers from other breweries and had a great time bonding over and learning about beer.
Me: Sounds like a casual day at the office.
Dana: Dream day.
Me: So how long until you bottle the brew? Does it have a name?
Dana: It took a little over a month for us to bottle it –
We are calling it the Brea Estate Hopped Honey Saison
Me: Is it drinkable right away?
Dana: Yes, it is drinkable right after bottling. I would recommend letting the beer get cold first.
Me: Cold Beer. Check. Speaking of cold, what is the coolest thing you learned about beer making?
Dana: [insert courtesy laugh] ….just learning the whole process was the coolest part. With only a few ingredients in beer, it's amazing how many different flavors and types of beer there are out there. It’s really awesome.
Me: Do you have any advice for someone who wants to try this at home?
Dana: Patience and the right equipment. Chef Gabe recommended this store called Addison Homebrew Provisions, where you can purchase everything you need and find recipes. They also offer classes to learn about the brewing process.
Me: Sweet. Looking forward to tasting the fruits of your labor.
>>> Fast forward a little over a month to the bottling day.
Me: Dana…it's judgment day… do you have any final tasting notes for me? What did you think of the Siason you made? How would you describe it?
Dana: The saison is soooo good! It was golden in color, a hint of spices and sweetness, with a smooth finish. Delicious! I vote to make it a seasonal Lazy Dog beer. :)
Chef Gabe’s Process Notes:
1. Place milled grains in group #1 into a mash ton + add 3 gallons of 155 degree water- stir + cover – allow to mash for 60 minutes
2. Open lid + add second pitch of malt + sparge with 2 gallons of 170 degree water- allow water to slowly filter through the grains + continue to sparge with 170 degree water until you have a yield of 8 gallons of wort
3. Place the 8 gallons of wort over medium- high heat + bring to boil
4. Once boiling –reduce heat + add the first batch of bittering hops- simmer for 45 minutes
5. Add second round of bittering hops + whirlfoc tablet – set timer for 10 minutes
6. Add the spices and the estate grown hops – set timer for 5 minutes
7. Turn off heat and immediately chill down to 70 degrees
8. During cooling lift the hop bag out of the liquid to allow for draining
9. Once 70 degrees - take hydrometer reading + log into recipe
10. Using sanitized transfer tubing, move the wort from the pot to the fermentation carboy + slowly add the yeast to the carboy + put the airlock in place
11. Aggressively shake the beer and yeast inside of the carboy to aerate
12. Ferment at 68-70 degrees for 2 weeks + then at 74-46 degrees for two more weeks
13. Using sanitized thief, pull sample and check hydrometer reading – if it falls within the style guidelines, it is time to filter- if not, allow to ferment longer + check every 4 days until desired reading is attained
a. Click here to see the Brewers Association Beer Style Guide
14. Using sanitized transfer tubing, move the beer from the carboy to the keg + seal with the correct amount of Co2 pressure based on the style you desire
[Fingers crossed ya’ll]
Until then, stay thirty my friends.
Published by Rebecca Simms