Thursday, March 24, 2016

pink boots big boots brew day 2016

2016 has been a pretty badass year for me so far, but by far one of the best parts of it has been the benefits being a part of the Schoolcraft Brewing & Distillation Technology program, which resulted in getting involved with Fermenta, a non-profit initiated by Michigan women & committed to diversity, camaraderie, networking & education within the craft beverage industry – AKA a group of women who brew, work in the brewing industry, or just plain love beer & who coordinate some truly amazing events for members to learn about & experience all sorts of fabulous beer-related things.

This past month (as they did last year), Fermenta partnered with the Pink Boots Society to host multiple events across Michigan in honor of International Womens’ Day to raise the profile of & draw attention to women in the industry, and then opened the events to members who wanted to be a part of an actual brew day at participating brewery.  Pink Boots scheduled their “Big Boots Brew Day” for 2016 on March 5th & encouraged breweries to brew a Gose.  Here in Michigan, Griffin Claw Brewing Company opened their doors to a handful of us women on a sleety, gross winter morning & let us help out brewing a blood orange gose.

GCBC has only been open since 2013, but they have already expanded their biergarten, opened a retail show (formerly just a tiny corner of the brewery with a cash register and one showcase of merchandise), and is now in the process of opening a location in Rochester Hills that will serve as their think tank (for new experimental small batch, seasonal, and specialty beers) and test kitchen as well as production of all of their distilled spirits, and will also host a new “high gravity” system AND allow the brewery to up their output to 50,000 barrels per year – which is pretty damn cool.

Griffin Claw is already a giant, and in large part very mechanized, brewery – which mean the brew day itself didn’t involve a ton of hands-on physical work when it came to brewing the beer itself, but the staff on hand was SO knowledgeable and willing to share their experiences, knowledge, and even shortcomings & struggles with us that it was incredibly eye-opening & educational.

We started out the morning (after some brewery-supplied and much needed coffee & treats) with a trip out into the frigid March weather to mill some red wheat, which woke us up at least as much as the caffeine, then headed back inside to work our way through the large-scale brewing process, including the process of cleaning & sanitizing tanks, mashing & boiling, knock out, pitching yeast (or in this case, lactobacillus), utilizing and cleaning a mash filter (which was something I’d never been able to completely wrap my head around until it was physically in front of me), and learning about the process of propagating yeast & the lab processes that go along with it.

Grain mill so big it's in its own separate building...
With my brew ladies <3
Listening to some info on the brew kettle/mash filter process.
Santizing the bright tanks.
Scraping down the mash filter.
Followed by hosing down the mash filter.
Doing some yeast science!
Pitching lactobacillus into our gose.
What a beautiful view~
For a homebrewer, seeing the process of brewing on a 17 bbl system with so many things so automated was mind-blowing – it’s quite the step up from my little 15 gallon kettle & dark star burner bubbling away in my garage.

And of course afterwards we relaxed with some single hop (galaxy!) IPA & an ENORMOUS burger.

Look for the Pink Boots blood orange IPA on tap at Griffin Claw in ~3 months or so. Thanks Fermenta & GCBC!

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