Scaling Up – Brewing at Real Brewery

Last winter I entered a local homebrew competition put on by Short Finger Brewing.  I decided I’d enter by brewing a style I’d never heard of, Wheat Wine, which I chose because I had quite a bit of wheat malt extract I wanted to use up and I figured I’d maybe win a prize since hardly anyone would enter that category (yes, I’m kind of sneaky like that).  I couldn’t attend the awards ceremony but was very delighted later in the evening when I saw on Twitter that I’d not only won the category but also Best in Show!

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That winning beer was a dark brown color, and rather cloudy (which is to be expected for a beer that is 50% wheat malt).  The aroma was mostly dried fruits and a bit of caramel.  The flavor was on the sweet side with a lot of fruitiness and there was very minimal bitterness and no hop flavor.  The beer was well carbonated, on the medium to high side, and had a nice head of very fine foam.

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Fast forward 11 months and I finally got to go brew my recipe at Block 3 Brewing in St. Jacobs, the brewery that had hosted the competition.  The brew day was a lot of fun and as you can see from the pictures I got to be part of pretty much every step (including a trip to a local farm to drop off the previous day’s spent grains!).

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About a month after brewing I went out to the brewery to try out the beer with Kevin, the head brewer, and take home some bottles (with labels designed by my brother-in-law!).  The final product was a beer that is a crisp and somewhat hop-forward American wheat ale.  Interestingly, in spite of using almost the exact same recipe as the one I had brewed the new beer was basically nothing like the original.

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The original was much darker which I attribute to the use of local rye malt as well as some more caramelization of the wort which could have happened over my high powered propane burner.  Additionally I fermented my version with two yeasts, An English (S-04) and American (US-05) while the new one only used the American yeast.  I think this gave the original a fruitier flavour and also made it slightly less dry than the new beer.

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All in all I was very pleased to get to spend a whole brew day in a real brewery and to learn so much from Kevin.  If you’re interested in trying the beer it’s possible there are still a few bottles left at the brewery.  If it’s all gone maybe we’ll have to encourage Block 3 to try brewing it again, only this time I’d ask to make some changes to the recipe to try to more closely recreate my original beer!

Here’s the link to the recipe on Brewtoad (which is the online software I use for all my recipes).