Now that we’ve been open for a few weeks and our beers are starting to show up at more and more area restaurants and bars, I guess now is as good as any time to do a bit of an update on our beer and what we’ve got planned in the coming weeks and months. One of the things that people rarely know or see is what actually goes into making the beer you drink outside of the normal brewery tours and samplings. As brewers, we’re constantly dealing with the day to day challenge of making quality beer, consistantly. When you’re dealing with a beverage like beer that is so dependent on natural ingredients that change from crop year to crop year, a lot of effort has to go into ensuring that we’re not only brewing beer that we’re satisfied with, but doing so as consistantly as possible.
Keeping that in mind, here’s a first hand run through of our first batches of Tribute Tripel, Mudbank Milk Stout, and County Line IPA.
Tribute Tripel – After countless water testing and system checks, Tribute Tripel was the first beer to be brewed at Neshaminy Creek Brewing. Overall, we’re really happy with the way the rampup on this beer turned out. We feel it’s very true to style of a classic Belgian Tripel, a Tribute if you will. The 9.3% ABV is very deceptive, so don’t underestimate this beer. Sometimes American brewers have a tendency to use far to many spices in this style and don’t rely enough on the yeast to do what it does best, and for this style, that’s hugely important. The bitter orange peel and coriander add a citrus flavor and spice note that help this beer finish on the dry side. We’re hoping attenuation will be a tad better on the upcoming batches, because in my opinion this style can never finish dry enough, but overall the first batch of Tribute finished quite well and so far the feedback has been great.
Mudbank Milk Stout – I’ve got a lot of history with this beer, and if you know my brewing history you know why. Like the Tripel, this brew went realy well, and midway through our confidence on our JV Northwest brewhouse was really starting to show and click. This beer always reminds me of a chocolate milkshake with some roasty and chewy bread notes, but suprisingly, the body doesn’t overwhelm you at all regardless of its color. The large amount of high dried malt in this (black, chocolate, roasted barley) help cut through some of the body and makes this one a real easy drinker. We can’t wait to make some ice cream out of it too!
County Line IPA – From the start we knew this beer was going to be a challenge. Because we’re a new brewery and aren’t currently under a hop contract we’re going to have a hard time getting some hugely important IPA-centric hops on the open market, namely three of the main hops we used in this beer’s early development: Simcoe, Chinook, and Citra. We were able to secure some Simcoe from our good friends at Yards, but had to substitute the Chinook with more Simcoe and the Citra with Zythos. We also have access to zero whole leaf Citra to dry hop, so we knew out the gate that aromatically speaking, this version of this beer wasn’t going to be all that we’d like it to be, but there’s no way to avoid that until we can secure the hops we need in the future. Easier said than done. Overally, we’re pretty happy with how the IPA has turned out. We’re going to make a few adjustments to our water chemistry to try and dry out our mash a touch, and a bit more attentuation will go a long way in cutting down on some of the sweetness on the front end as well as bringing some of the bold, dank, hop bitterness and flavor up a notch. Eventually we’ll be able to dry hop this beer, but in the meantime 11 pounds of Zythos at whirlpool is the best we can do.
Speaking of water chemistry, we’re much more in tune with our water profile now then we were on the first three batches, so our use of brewing salts to acheive the water profiles we’re looking for has been dialed in now. We’ve also added a few more tools to the brewhouse to accurately measure our mash water total.
We’ve also brewed another 15 barrels of Tribute and County Line briging our barrelage so far to 90 and our batch total to six just prior to our first brews of Trauger Pils.
The first beer we brewed with what we believe is a correctly adjusted water chemistry for our mash was Trauger Pilsner. Initially our Chloride to Sulfate ratio was way out of whack and lending a more malt-forward mash profile, which is something that works great for beers like Mudbank, but not necessarily ideal for a beer like County Line where we actually want the beer to show more of a bitter profile.
Trauger Pils – Both 15 barrel batches went really smoothly and our transfer time at our 52 degree pitch temperature was right around 40 minutes; not to shabby for 500 gallons. Right now Trauger has been in primary fermentation for two weeks and has been at it’s final gravity for just under a week. We’re going to transfer it over to one of our lagering/conditioning tanks after a short diacetyl rest and there it will spend another 4 weeks conditioning. They call them lagers for a reason.
This past Friday we received another 60 barrels of capacity that will also allow us to keep our Belgian yeast strain going longer than we had originally expected. We’re going to brew another 30 barrels of Tribute in the coming days as well as another 30 barrels of Trauger. You’ve already heard enough about those beers, “So what do we have on tap for the coming weeks?” Glad you asked.
Chances are you may have heard of our Russian Imperial Stout, aka our Smores Stout. We’ve done this brew twice on the pilot system and both times the outcome far exceeded our expectations. Now it’s time for the big leagues.
The beauty of making your own beer is that you get to name it. This is a big brew, and at 1900 pounds of total malt, comes in around 12% before we add the marshmallow fluff, bittesweet bakers chocolate, and crushed graham crackers. We wanted to call this beer something appropriate, and that name is Leon. “Leon?” Yes, Leon.
Over the course of building this brewery a lot of peopled helped us out along the way. One of the most generious and extremely gracious among them came from our immediate family. Without Leon none of the concrete work that was done in our building would have happened, and to show our appeciation to a man that loves his stouts second to none, we decided to name this hulk of a beer after him. Here’s to you, Leon!
We’ll be brewing Leon in early July. We’re going to brew 30 barrels because approximately half is going to be aged in freshly dumped Bourbon barrels that will be arriving sometime in mid-July. The rest will be available on draft sometime in August as well as a limited number of hand bottled 22 ounce bombers that will only be available at the brewery.
Since it is the Summer brewing huge stouts isn’t necessarily the best idea, so we’re going to counter that with the ultimate lawnmower beer, a cream ale. Croydon Cream Ale will be available in late July as well and is the perfect beer for that hot summer day spent mowing your grass or watching a ballgame. It’s light, it’s crisp, and you’ll be able to drink more than a few in a sitting without feeling like a brickhouse just fell on you.
Sometime in late July/early August we’ll have a draft only brewery release of our Belgian Dubbel that we’ve been aging in a bourbon barrel with brettanomyces, Bucks County raspberries, and cocoa nibs. If you’re not following us on Facebook, I highly suggest start to if you don’t want to miss this release.
A bit further past that we’ll be working on a late Summer release for our Hefeweizen and an early fall release of our Dunkelweizen. Before you know it we’ll be brewing our Dubbel Honey Weizenbock for Christmas.
Looks like we’ve got some busy months ahead. You keep drinkin’ ’em, we’ll keep brewin’ em!