The Rusty Rocket

Can I just start off by saying that it has been a crazy 2011?  I cannot believe how many things are going on right now.  It’s been hard to fit brew time in and that makes hulk angry!  I wanted to start off by honoring the memory of our dear friend David Marriner who passed away on New Years Day.  He was a truly amazing and unique individual.  There will never be anyone another soul like him.  Our most heartfelt condolences and support go out to his husband Scott, his sisters Ali, April, & Ashley, and his incredible parents David & Nancy.  David will be sorely missed.  Fight on dude!  Dave loved beer and so we will be dedicating one of our flagship beers in David’s memory.

John, Steph, Katie and I went to a beer celebration at Eagle Rock Brewery earlier this month to comm

emorate its one year anniversary.  Congratulations ERB – it was an impressive turn out.  Mug club members got to hang out in back brewery space while eating snacks and tasting special releases.  They had an incredible lineup, one of which was a sour version of their Solidarity Black Mild.  Yummm.  It seems like only yesterday that John and I were walking around ERB with Jeremy in the sipping some homebrew that John brought as a peace offering.  I think it was a porter.  ERB continues to amaze me with its beers – keep up the good work.

Last Saturday, we attended a festival called Bockfest at the Olympic Collections & Banquet Hall.  It was a cool event, but was structured very strangely.  Having been to beerfests and beer festivals before this one definitely stood out.  This may be because the majority of traditional bock beer is made in Germany making acquiring kegs a difficult task.  That being said, I know for a fact that tons of brewery’s in the US carry their own Bocks which are just as good.  The result was table after table of bottled beers being poured for the crowds.  Some glasses were splashed with a sampling while others were filled to the brim.  This is a dangerous combination when dealing with a super high alcohol content beer like bock.  John reminded me that bock is almost synonymous with Imperial.  Fireman’s Brew had an exceptional Doublebock – Brewnette  that ran out way to early due to over-serving.  I think they were unprepared for young female turnout as these attendees most definitely receive one if not two full glasses with a complimentary flirt.

Despite the strange silent auction, olive oil salesman, Tequila merchant, and cereal bar stands, the event was a lot of fun.  I think that in a few years this event will be a lot better.  It just suffered from “we’re new what do we do?”  Can’t complain too much though because I got a nifty pilsner glass with my name etched on it.  We also met our friend, Chad Fifer, from The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast, and his wife, which was cool.  Got to add that it’s a blast to be so close to Japanese Ramen…amazing post drinking food.  For $25 I would definitely go again.

Finally, on to the Rusty Rocket.  Do me a favor and don’t look this one up on Urban Dictionary…I know you are doing it right now and that was my intention.  I chose the name for this beer trying to think of a cool Steam Punk sort of image, but had no idea that it had a duel meaning.  I actually want to use it even more now…just to be different.  Rusty Rocket anyone?  Rusty Rocket or The Rusty Rye Rocket is a Rye IPA or Rye-PA.  This is the first IPA or pale ale I’ve designed a recipe for.  Both Matt and John have experience in this arena, but I’ve been more interested in Belgian and abstract styles.  That being said, I’m incredibly excited about this one.  It uses a yeast similar to that of Sierra Nevada’s and uses one type of hop only – Organic Whole-Leaf Cascade hops from Jim Spencer’s hop farm up in Oregon.

The brew day was eventful.  We had two new brewers with us…two very very tall brewers…two 6.5 inch tall brewers, Mark Laudenslager & Gary Zorko.  We also used our new Blichmann 15 gallon brewpot.  As with using any new equipment, there were a few snafus, but nothing that can’t be corrected next time.  Using the Blichmann as a mash-tun in a steph mash is a bit problematic as the grain tends to scorch.  Blichmann suggests circulating the wort with a pump or, for those without pumps, circulating manually by draining into a container and dumping it back in.  Neither method sounds ideal.  Manual draining was the only option and we were quickly rewarded with a stuck sparge…errr…false bottom (we weren’t sparging yet).  Plan B, step mash in old 10 gallon brew pot and lauter/sparge in 10 gallon rubbermaid.  Just like old times – it worked like a charm.  We lautered/sparged into the Blichmann as it’s primary job would now be to boil.

The wort came out nice and clean and smelled incredible mixed with the first-wort addition of Cascade.  My only thought, this beer is going to be epic.  I made sure not to follow the directions on the Blichmann as I lifted it while full with the help of Gary and Mark.  We took it outside and started up the burner.  Double, Bubble, Toil, and Hurry up and Wait.  While waiting for the hot break I had stimulating conversation with Mark, who has an incredible last name I might add, is starting to put together the first stages of planning his brew pub in Irvine.  I think we are going to have fun helping each other out during our entrepreneurial adventures.  We headed outside as the wort came to a boil and continue our conversations as Gary snapped photos with his sick-ass camera.  The rest of the brew session, with the exception of the good company, was pretty unremarkable.  That

Upon racking to the carboy for yeast pitch and eventual fermentation I noticed that the carboy was fuller than usual. In fact, we spilled a lot on my kitchen floor. I actually noticed the wort level earlier when I saw the it on the handy sight glass on the side of the Blichmann.  I sort of chocked it off to the amount of hops I added (6+ oz), but quickly realized that the carboy was a bit too full.  Whatever…right?  The gravity was almost spot on…we hit 78% efficiency which was better than expected so I poured a bit off to have some head room for the yeast and then said ganbate.    What a great brew session…it was perhaps the messiest one yet, but Gary and Mark did an awesome job.  It’s going to be fun brewing with them in the future…and hopefully even on a giant pro system.  We celebrated a hard days work at Chipotle with my wife…I had a burrito bowl with chicken, guacamole, and corn salsa in case you were interested.  Time to say goodbye to the assistant brewers for the day.  By Mark! By Gary! I’ll miss you! Brew on!

Flash forward – Wow that yeast cake is looking pretty massive on top there.  Oh what’s that Katie? It’s time to go to sleep? Okay.  I guess I don’t have to worry about it any mo……..BOOOOOOM! YEAST CHUNKS EVERYWHERE!

Okay, so that didn’t really happen while I was standing there…it did however happen while I was sleeping.  Rust Rocket was so excited about life that it decided to throw up all over my kegerator and onto the floor.  It was an impressively enjoyable tuesday morning pre-work cleanup session complete with carpet shampoo.  Damn, I didn’t even get to go to the gym to work off Bockfest with a 5 minute run.  Oh well, Tomorrow is just a day away.

So that’s it, festivals, celebrations, memorials, and brewing.  It’s been so busy I haven’t had time to think.  Still though, Rusty Rocket is gonna be one dirty son of a bitch and by that I mean it’s going to be an incredibly delicious beer.  Just don’t come anywhere near me with that Urban Dictionary okay.  Fight on & Brew on!



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