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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Morning Glory Breakfast Stout and a Brown Ale - Brewing @ Great Lakes

Whenever I have the opportunity to take part in brewing some beer I never pass it up. Earlier in the week I was presented with the chance to head to the Great Lakes Brewery in Etobicoke to help brew up some beers with John Bowden and Mike Lackey, two Great Lakes employees. Yesterday I was at the brewery playing around with the pilot system and we brewed up some Morning Glory Breakfast Stout and a Brown Ale.

10am - Arrived at the brewery just as the Morning Glory was being mashed. We started putting together the ingredients for the Brown Ale while the stout was going through the mashing process; grinding the malt and measuring the hop pellets. After the mash (1hr) the heat is increased to reach the ideal temperature before the 15 minute Volauf process.

11:30 - Sparging takes place. 38L of water is added as the wort is transferred to the kettle for an 80-minute boil. Amarillo and Golding hops are used in the Morning Glory, along with Birds and Beans Brazilian coffee, cocoa, Irish moss, and dark bakers chocolate, which are all added at various times throughout the 80 minutes. Now it's time to clean up and get started on measuring the hops for the Brown Ale while we wait on the Morning Glory to finish before pitching the yeast.

Great Lakes have really taken advantage of this pilot system, and it's great to be a part of it, even for just one day. Since setting up the system in early July of this year, Great Lakes has been producing a number of one-off beers that they showcase at their monthly Project 'X' nights. Morning Glory Breakfast Stout, Redneck IPA, Stein Paper Scissors, Superior IPA, My Bitter Wife IPA, Skinny Dip Saison Weiss and many more, are just some of the creations the guys at Great Lakes have whipped up. The Great Lakes Caskapalooza tent was the place to be this year at the Toronto Festival of Beer as the brewery produced 21 casks for the three-day event, much to the surprise of Toronto beer drinkers. Because of these beers Great Lakes is receiving a bunch of positive attention from beer drinkers, media, and other breweries, as this type of experimentation hasn't really been played on in Ontario.

The brewery recently received some good news regarding the Morning Glory as Bowden, who put together the recipe, was notified that it finished second in the overall voting at this years Cask Days festival at Volo. “Pretty cool to hear, and great to hear that people really liked it.”

12:19 - The wort is now boiling away and the first dose of Amarillo hops have been thrown in the kettle. Beer time – a bottle of the recently released Christmas Ale.

12:37 – The second dose of hops get thrown in as the beer boils away. The smell coming from the kettle is awesome. Chocolate malts, toasted oats, and the delicious aroma of the hops. The mash tun has been cleaned out and we’re going to wait an hour or so before starting the mashing of the Brown Ale. Throughout the boil the other ingredients get added and the smell gets even better.

1:22 – We begin the mashing of the Brown Ale, another recipe Bowden put together, just last night. Jon Graham from Cameron’s Brewing Co. just showed up, and he brought some beers with him. Graham has actually brewed with Bowden before, producing a Barley Wine that is currently maturing.

1:37 – The Morning Glory is done boiling. Now it’s time for the whirlpool before running it through the heat exchanger. From there it goes into the fermenting tank where we’ll pitch the yeast. Bowden draws some to get the final gravity.

We’re all just standing around and having a couple of beers while we wait for the next step in the mashing of the Brown Ale, which features both American and English hops.

2:20 – The stout now sits in the fermenter with the yeast, which is, at this moment, eating away at the starch to create alcohol. The target is to hit 6% abv and the final reading indicates that it will be somewhere around that. Now, time to clean out the kettle as it's almost time to transfer the wort of the Brown Ale.

2:50 – The sparging is taking place and the transfer of the wort to the kettle is underway. The colour, something Bowden was worrying about, looks good, better than he expected. We are using Northern Brewer and Goldings hops in the Brown Ale.

Like any beer you help brew I’m really looking forward to trying this once it’s done, likely in a month’s time.

3:30 – Boiling. The Brown Ale is now boiling, and will be for the next 60 minutes. The hops will be added during this time, but I won’t be here to throw them in. I have to head off to the Barley Wine tasting I mentioned (in yesterdays post). It has been a great day; an educational day filled with a bunch of good beer and good times.

I’ll be sure to post when the beers will be ready for public consumption, but FYI, the Brown Ale was given the name Skid Mark Brown and it could be available at a Future Project 'X'.

Pic #1 - Great Lakes employee, Mike Lackey
Pic #2 - The spent grains from the Morning Glory
Pic #3 - Me giving the wort a stir

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