Friday 23 May 2014

Brewing at Stone (part two)

Right, time to describe the rest of my brew day at Stone Liberty Station.

Or rather describe the beers I drink with lunch. I kick off with the First Anniversary Ale. A beer, as it names suggests, brewed to celebrate the first anniversary of Liberty Station. It's dark and hoppy. They jokingly called it a black something or other*. Can't remember what, because, as I told you last time, I'm not taking notes. And my memory isn't what it was. It's fairly like a Black IPA.

I follow it up with a Go To IPA. One of the new breed of Session IPA.I quite like them, especially when, as today, all be boozing all day long. But they seem to really antagonise the more fascist end of beer geekdom. Why? Because in their narrow world an IPA had to be at least 6.5% ABV. Anything below that is an imposter. Like the wonderful 1839 Reid IPA (one of the recipes in my excellent new book), which only just scrapes over 5% ABV. Those dumb Victorian brewers.

Go to IPA is very drinkable and isn't messing up my head too much. What with the heat I've got even more of a thirst than usual. I take one with me back to the brewhouse, where Kris has delayed the boil so I can do my hop throwing in bit.

When it's time the bung in the pellets, there's a nice head on the wort. It's even more impressive after the addition. Like the froth on the top of a cappucino. What are the hops? A load of Goldings. This is an India Porter, after all. In needs some company for its long journey.

We're brewing 10 US barrels and Kris will brew another 10 tomorrow. That's one conical's worth.

There are just two hop additions, at 90 and 60 minutes. That's what it says in my recipe, but it's just a guess. Few brewing records give details of hop additions. None I've seen from the 19th century. I made an educated guess, based on what brewing text books of the day recommend. Could be totally wrong. But as they weren't interested so much in aroma, more in preservative qualities, early additions make sense.

Grant from ChuckAlek gets to make the second and final addition. While his intern Kaleb gets to rake the spent grain out of the mash tun. I know which of the two I'd prefer.

Before I know it, four o' clock has rolled around. When my book signing is due kick off. It's in the garden. On the way to lunch I'd been surprised to spot a couple of punters out there. Anyone sensible was inside with the air conditioning.

I'm set up at the back of the garden. Most importantly next to the bar and in the shade. It's still roasting, even out of the sun. Stick an apple in my mouth and you can have roast pork for tea.

I've plenty of time to consider my own mortality as, books arranged enticingly on the table, I sweat in a garden deserted save for the staff. At least I've a beer in my hand - more Go To.

Around 16:45, with brewing done, the others join me. Grant wants to try his own 1832 Brown Stout, but it's not on until 17:00. He decides to wait.

It's worth waitng for. A Lovely beer, full of chocolate notes, but finishing with a persistent bitterness. That's what you get from large early hop additions. A bitterness that lasts all the way to next christmas, without ever jumping up and slapping you around the face.

As the sun drops lower and the air cools a little, more are tempted outside. But none of them pay much attention to my little book stall. The signing is supposed to end at 18:00. My first sale is 5 minutes before that. I decide not to shut up shop but to carry on as long as anyone is showing interest.

I'm relieved when Mitch turns up. He's not been able to do much in Escondido. The police wouldn't let him anywhere near the brewery. But at least the fire hadn't reached it either.

We chat and drink and eat and occasionally I sell a book. It's even quite pleasant, once the sun is down.

"It's a day.", I say eventually. I'm back in my hotel by 22:00.

Next time I'll be going to a museum and some breweries. Quite a few breweries. Including the main Stone plant in Escondido. If it's still there.

* Imperial Black Kolsch.
Imperial Black Kolsch
Imperial Black Kolsch
Imperial Black Kolsch

Stone Liberty Station
2816 Historic Decatur Rd #116‎,
San Diego, CA 92106

ChuckAlek Independent Brewers
2330 Main St, Suite C
Ramona, CA 92065 

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