What an adventure. The first beer has been brewed and now the hard part begins. Let's discuss.
First, as you've no doubt guessed, my ability and desire to blog has declined in direct correlation to how busy I've been. As much as I'd like to fill in all the details in the past year, I just don't have time, which is a shame, because there is a LOT to share.
We brewed this past month, the beer, a pale ale I've been working on for a long time, is in the fermenter, it's ready to be dry hopped, conditioned, and carbonated. The brew day was not without its challenges. I decided to brew 10 barrels (20 kegs), which is half of what my brewhouse can produce, and a fourth of what my fermenters can hold. Even though I knew this would create issues with wort production and fermentation control, I decided to go through with it in order to kick the tires of the system and figure out some of the basics of my process.
It was a great day, lots of help, lots of support, lots of friends texting and coming by to wish me good luck. We learned a lot, solved numerous problems, and the next brew day should go a bit more smoothly. It will take time to dial in my recipes for the brewery for things like mash efficiency, hop extraction efficiency, variations on water temperature through out the year, water chemistry tweaking, and on and on. But I feel I have a very good understanding of my brewing system and how to get water, wort, and beer from point A to point B. That's a good start.
I can clean and sanitize all of my vessels very efficiently now, thanks to all the training I had at Metropolitan Brewing. So that's a good thing, because I'll be doing that a LOT. I have a good understanding of how to best handle and use the various cleaning and sanitizing chemicals that every brewery uses. Some are quite nasty and require good safety protocols. Again, Metropolitan guided my way on this back during my internship.
So I'm a couple of weeks away from introducing my first beer to the Chicago market and that's where the real work begins. Brewing beer is just one part of this journey. Now I have to ship it, sell it, market it, maintain it, efficiently operate it, and grow it. I'm a bit nervous, but I'm up for the challenge.
The next step in this enterprise is a tap room. That is going to be a long process to navigate through more permits (including Chicago alcohol ones), construction, and god knows what else. I hope to have it up and running this year, but knowing what I know now, things in Chicago can take a very long time.
I want to thank everyone for their kind comments (the stupid ones were never approved, you should've seen some of them, jeez.) and words of encouragement.
This blog will live on as one part of the upcoming new Alarmist Brewing website. We'll be transitioning to a proper business site with information on events, beers, and goings on of the brewery. It will look dramatically different, like even almost professional!
Stay tuned, but for the latest and greatest news for now, check out the Alarmist Brewing Facebook page.
Gary Gulley, Chief Alarmist