The Big Brew – and an Exhausting Weekend

I had meant to write about this a little earlier, but the weekend turned out to be an exhausting one. Between housework, yard work, hockey, the Big Brew, and then brewing at Rogues Harbor, I’m amazed I’m able to function at all today! It was a great weekend though. A lot of fun was had, a lot of beer was consumed, and a lot of beer was made!

This was my first time actually being able to attend the Big Brew. Big Brew, for those who don’t know, is a celebration of National Homebrew day (which was May 5th this year). Homebrew clubs gather together to do brew as a group either making pre-planned beers, or coming up with their own creations. Our club opted towards the later and we gathered together down at Stewart Park to have some food, fun, and of course to brew some beer!

The first lesson that I learned is that transporting all my brew gear is a pain in the butt! It took a lot longer to load up my truck than I thought it would.

Big Brew 2012
Big Brew 2012 Stewart Park, Ithaca, NY

I got up early, gave myself extra time, and still I managed to be running late. Fortunately I wasn’t too late as I was the one who was supposed to bring all the hoses for the event. Only one other person was there and he was just beginning to setup so I got lucky that no one was sitting around being held up because I hadn’t shown up yet. Once all the stuff was unloading and set up it was time to get the actual brew day going!

There were only 5 people brewing at the event this year. We had expected a couple of others, but either we over-estimated it or a couple of people weren’t able to make it. It’s a shame because it was such a beautiful day. It would have been better with a little less wind, but brewing next to a lake that’s just something you have to deal with. There was only on person who had an issue with his flame blowing out while he was waiting to bring his wort up to a boil. Everything else was smooth sailing for the rest of us. My brew day was as smooth as any I’ve ever had at home.


So for this brew I decided I was going to make something a little different. I’ve always been a fan of Dogfish Head’s India Brown Ale. I think that it is probably their most under-appreciated beer. It gets lost in the shuffle of all the crazy over the top beers that tend to grab all the attention. Using that beer as inspiration I came up with my own recipe. Mine is a touch more chocolate malt forward, but I had been wanting to play with the chocolate wheat malt that I’ve had for awhile and this seemed like an ideal beer to do it with(I’ll post the recipe in a later post). It smelled great when I was running the mash off in to the boiling kettle. Possibly the most lovely malt aromas I’ve ever had from a beer I was making. It got me thinking that at some point I’ll make this beer again as a straight out brown ale without the obscene hop additions that I used for Big Brew!

Cleaning up and bringing everything home was about as annoying as gathering everything up to bring down there. I had plans to go see some friends that night, but by the time I sat down after unloading everything my eyes were already closing. So instead of heading back out I called it a night. The Big Brew had been a great success! I enjoyed watching other people work on their systems. I got to see a couple gadgets in action that I had always been curious about, and as always I got to spend a day talking about beer which is a happy thing to me! I can’t wait for Big Brew 2013!