Giving the Gift of Beer

I was asked by my girlfriend’s boss Jon asked if I would be interested in providing beer for a New Year’s party that he was planning to throw.  I’m always flattered when someone asks me to brew them a beer but I was even more astounded that someone with such a prestigious position at a top tier NYC law firm would do so.  I had brought over a few beers to his apartment once before a dinner out and he was apparently amazed at the quality.  I usually take such compliments with a grain of salt because most non beer nerds (and some beer nerds) only say good things or say nothing at all as to not offend the brewer.  Some brewers can be sensitive to critique but I personally take it seriously if someone does provide some sort of feedback that can be helpful to my future brews.

I know what I like in a beer and can brew that niche of beers pretty well, but brewing a beer for another person or persons is a whole other beast.  So I asked Jon the usual questions about the party like size and general makeup of the attendees and started upon my process.  The main problem was that the party was three weeks away which left very little time for maturation of any beer.  Luckily, this was somewhat in my favor because the taste demographic of the party-goers was described as “low to moderate adventurous”.  I decided to brew an English bitter for a few reasons.

1) Low alcohol beers like an English bitter can be turned around relatively quick (within 3 weeks) because of the decreased amount of fermentables that the yeast have to consume.

2) English yeast strains are much more flocculent than other strains (Belgian, American, German) and therefore result in a clearer beer more quickly and without filtration or finings.

3) I have been brewing bitters pretty often because they are one of my girlfriend‘s favorite beer styles and it keeps her happy to always have it on tap at home.

Because of my neurotic nature I couldn’t just provide one example of my fine craftsmanship (ahem) so I prepared a Kolsch which I had been sitting on for a while (which I will post more about later).

From Jon:

“The beer was a huge hit and perceived as something really special and unique.  There is definitely something to this, some small business.  I received glowing feedback from the oldest person at the party (father) as well as the coolest (TJ).”

The bitter is subjectively awesome in my opinion, and the single hopping of Glacier added a delicious floral finish to the beer.  Easy to drink and easy to brew, this one is a keeper.

Recipe follows:

Brooklyn’s Best Bitter
8-B Special/Best/Premium Bitter
Date: 11/11/10
Size: 5.54 gal
Efficiency: 80.0%
Attenuation: 78.0%
Calories: 147.47 kcal per 12.0 fl oz
Original Gravity: 1.045 (1.040 – 1.048)
Terminal Gravity: 1.010 (1.008 – 1.012)
Color: 9.9 (5.0 – 16.0)
Alcohol: 4.56% (3.8% – 4.6%)
Bitterness: 36.3 (25.0 – 40.0)
7.0 lb Golden Promise Malt
.5 lb Golden Naked Oats
2.5 oz Extra Dark Crystal
1.5 oz Caramel Malt 120L
12.7 oz Corn Sugar
1.0 oz Glacier (5.6%) – added during boil, boiled 60 m
1.0 oz Glacier (5.6%) – added during boil, boiled 30 m
1.0 oz Glacier (5.6%) – added during boil, boiled 5 m
1.0 ea Fermentis S-04 Safale S-04
00:03:52 Dough In – Liquor: 2.87 gal; Strike: 163.75 °F; Target: 153.0 °F
01:03:52 Sacch Rest – Rest: 60 m; Final: 152.2 °F
01:04:52 sparge 1 – sparge 1: 5.5 gal sparge @ 189 °F, 1.0 m; Total Runoff: 7.67 gal
2g Chalk, 1g Gypsum, .5g CaCl
Gypsum and CaCl add to the boil.
Low mash temp ~149F because of ambient temp ~35F
Decocted 3 quarts and boiled, mash temp 153F
Mash pH 5.55 @ room temp
Only had 12.7 oz of corn sugar
Did not oxegenate (dry yeast)

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