Brewing Beer with Friends

There’s not a lot in this world that’s better than a fresh homebrewed beer straight from the kegerator after a long day at work or during a football game. Knowing that you designed something tasty, crafted it with your hands, and then treated yourself to a fresh pint is really one of the best things on this planet. There’s a certain satisfaction that not much can compete with. The only thing that can really ratchet things up a notch and take it to the next level is spending the brew day with really great friends and making it a collaboration!

Just recently, I was lucky enough to host a couple good buddies as we brewed up a giant batch of hazy pale ale. Thanks to my buddies Aaron and Sean, we were able to get a 15-gallon batch of hazy pale ale brewed up and really put my brewery to the test!

Starting out fairly early in the morning, I picked Aaron and his gear up and we got to work right away on measuring everything out and heating strike water. Surprisingly, we even started out drinking coffee instead of going straight for the beer! Aaron was kind enough to get all the grain milled up, but I don’t think he thought it was as funny as me when I handed him the manual crank to the grain mill instead of a power drill. Milling 29 pounds of grain by hand would just about kill any normal person’s arms!

Just look at the size of those grain-milling python arms!

After getting the grain milled, water additions weighed out, and strike/sparge water heated up, we were finally ready to mash in and get the ball rolling on our brew day. With one of us dumping the grain into the mash tun and the other stirring, the dough balls were no match for us!

No dough balls here!

Shortly after getting the mash started, my good buddy Sean finally arrived! Sean has helped with a couple brew days in the past, and he has certainly never turned me down when I offered him a cold home-brewed beer! I’m glad that he was able to stop by and contribute to the brew day and maybe even learn a few things about the hobby that I love and Aaron has turned into a profession.

What is this? Some kind of serious conversation?

As the mash neared completion and we got the first runnings into the boil kettle, my favorite homebrew tradition had finally arrived! On a cold brew day, nothing tastes better than a bit of hot, sweet wort and a good bit of whiskey added to it. Every batch of beer tastes a bit different, but they’re all exceptionally tasty! Today’s whiskey of choice was Davidson Reserve’s Rye Whiskey that I purchased on a recent trip to Tennessee.

If this won’t warm you up on a chilly morning, nothing will!

After collecting all the fresh wort from the mash tun, we finally realized just how badly we were flirting with disaster. On paper, a 20-gallon boil kettle should be able to handle a 15-gallon batch of beer even after accounting for boil-off and thermal expansion. Deciding to stop collecting wort at 18 gallons was definitely a wise move because it sure wanted to boil over for the entire hour! Luckily, we only had a very small amount of spillage, and didn’t make too big of a mess. Note for future self though, be ready with a spray bottle of cold water to keep things in check!

Thankfully, after a fairly uneventful boil, we were finally ready to chill everything and get it into fermenters. 5 gallons went into a carboy for Aaron to take home, and 10 gallons went into my unitank. Even though it’s the same base beer, I’m very interested to see how things come out. For yeast, Aaron pitched Cosmic Punch into his, and I went the Star Party route from Omega yeasts. It will definitely be interesting to see how they compare after everything is finished fermenting and packaged up. In the past, I’ve used Cosmic Punch and made some really fantastic hazy IPAs, but Star Party is entirely new to me. Hopefully, both versions come out tasty!

In the end, this was definitely a brew day that I’ll remember for quite a while! It’s hard to explain just how much fun it is to do something I love with friends that I really enjoy being around. Cold beers were shared, countless dirty jokes were told and the perma-grin was still on my face even when I woke up a touch hungover the next morning!

Let’s do it again for Brew Year’s Day!!

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