Ask any brewer what the majority of his or her day consists of, and the answer will be cleaning. Beer is the product of grain, hops, yeast and water, sure, but it also requires plenty of time. And the gear? That requires hours worth of sanitation.
When you’re brewing with Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø of Evil Twin Brewing, however, things are a little more interesting than usual. Just ask the folks at Other Half Brewing Company, who release their Evil Twin collaboration “Beat It, Nerd!” on December 23 at Tørst in Greenpoint. Sure the first part of brewing took half a day, but Jarnit-Bjergsø and the crew supplemented waiting time with, well, their own collection of beers to try.
So unlike an ordinary day at the brewery, the boys spent the morning sipping on a few rare bottles: a De Dolle Stille Nacht from 1990, a Cantillon Cuvée Saint-Gilloise, a pilot maple-sap beer brewed by Samuel Richardson of Other Half. They threw around phrases like “I’m sitting on a case of that,” or “that beer was sick,” playing the game of “Did you drink that?” with both whiskey and beer. Not once, even if a beer was too funky for some, did the bottles go unfinished. “If someone came in here and tackled all of us and was like, “Beat it nerd!” we would totally deserve it,” Richardson says. We dropped by to capture the scene.
The process starts out with measuring the malts needed for the beer.
The recipe, which took an hour to put together after several days of e-mailing between Richardson and Jarnit-Bjergsø.
Jarnit-Bjergsø milling grain for the mash. There are 1,200 pounds of grain to go through.
The grain gets sent to the mash tun to be mixed with water, resulting in 17.5 barrels of wort (the resulting liquid) pre-boil.
Richardson begins the vorlauf process, which clarifies the wort. This essentially pipes the liquid from the bottom of the mash tun back to the top, so it can filter through the grains once more.
Meanwhile, Jarnit-Bjergsø pours the first beer to share: an Evil Twin collaboration with Prairie Artisan Ales in Oklahoma called Coolship Truck. The spontaneously fermented beer was brewed in a coolship on wheels, basically a shallow tub that allows airborne yeast to ferment the beer at will.
The first five beers have been demolished while Richardson begins to move the wort from the mash tun to the brew kettle.
11:56 a.m.–12:10 p.m.
Meanwhile the crew gets to organizing and cleaning up the brewery and checking in on other beers fermenting.
Richardson measures the amount of wort in the kettle to decide when it’s time to add the hops.
Once all the wort has been transferred to the brew kettle, Jarnit-Bjergsø and co. can start cleaning out the residual grain.
Richardson throws out the first batch of grain and gets back to fill up a second cart. “No one ever said brewing was easy,” he says. “There’s always clean up to do.”
The first set of hops (for bittering) is finally added in to the brew kettle. The second set will be added in 80 minutes, before the wort is cooled down and fermented with Brettanomyces yeast.
One last cleanup. There are three hours left in the brewing process before the beer is fermented and conditioned for six weeks.
Beat It, Nerd! will be released on December 23 at Tørst.
Photo credit: Jessica Chou