I've been invited to do a pro/am brew. I'm stoked!

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MaxStout

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Over the past few years I've made friends with the head brewer/co-owner of a local brewery. Sometimes I bring in some bottles of HB for feedback. One in particular that he liked was a Grodziskie I brewed 2 summers ago.

This summer, he asked if I wanted to do an autumn pro/am brew at the brewery after they finish their run of O-fest, and he made it clear he wanted to do that Grodziskie. He's been intrigued with the style and thinks it would be a good seller. He wanted a tweak: bump it up in ABV, as he doesn't think a 3% beer would sell. Apparently, he's not too risk-averse, as this is kind of a niche style. However, he thinks it will sit well for a refreshing autumn beer, especially if it's not too smoky like a rauchbier.

In August, I brewed a 5-gal test batch, and brought some bottles in for him and his coworkers to try last week. It is 5.1% ABV, so more in line with the strength he's looking for. He liked the test batch and wants to move forward on this! This is a 15 bbl brewery, so in mid-late Oct we will brew 450-ish gallons of smoked wheat beer. I get to come in for the entire brew day--something like 7 or 8 hours. I'll probably be lugging some sacks of grain, etc. But I'm excited to learn about how a real brewery works, first-hand, as I have never done this before.

Then the brewery will do a roll out, probably early Nov, so it will be fun to be there for the unveiling of this brew. AFAIK, no one has brewed a Grodziskie/Graetzer in this area. We have to brainstorm a way to promote it. He asked me to think of a name. They like to do pop music references for some of their beer names so I thought of "Smoke From a Distant Fire." (The song was a one-hit wonder. Hopefully, the beer won't be.) Maybe someone here has an idea for a name...I'm open to suggestions.

My recipe is not true-to-form for a historical Grodziskie. Per the style it's all Weyermann oak-smoked wheat, with a little acid malt for pH adjustment. But I bittered with Perle, and pitched US-05. He liked the flavor and aroma, but thought that it may need a bit of color, so we could add a little melanoidin or toasted wheat.

Grodziskie.jpg
 
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That’s so cool, congratulations! I brewed a Grodziskie a couple years back as an homage to my Polish heritage. Been wanting to make one again. Enjoy your experience of being part of brewing it at a brewery.
 
Très cool! Enjoy the brewday and the release day too. As for Smoke in a song title...
  1. Smoke on the Water - Deep Purple
  2. Smoke gets in Your Eyes - Platters
  3. Smoke and Mirrors - Gotye
  4. Smokestack Litenin' - Howlin' Wolf
  5. Black Smoke Risin' - Greta Van Fleet
  6. I Smell Smoke - Johnny Winter
  7. Smoke From a Distant Fire - Sandford-Townsend
  8. River of Smoke - Burl Ives
  9. Smoke Signals - Phoebe Bridgers
  10. Free Smoke - Drake
That should get you started.

Cheers!

Chris
 
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Très cool! Enjoy the brewday and the release day too. As for Smoke in a song title...
  1. Smoke on the Water - Deep Purple
  2. Smoke gets in Your Eyes - Platters
  3. Smoke and Mirrors - Gotten
  4. Smokestack Litenin' - Howlin' Wolf
  5. Black Smoke Risin' - Greta Van Fleet
  6. I Smell Smoke - Johnny Winter
  7. Smoke From a Distant Fire - Sandford-Townsend
  8. River of Smoke - Burl Ives
  9. Smoke Signals - Phoebe Bridgers
  10. Free Smoke - Drake
That should get you started.

Cheers!

Chris

I was already considering #7, but thinking I like #4. The brewery is in an old WWII factory bldg with huge smokestacks coming out the roof. I suggested it to the brewer today, will see what he thinks.

Nobody in this region uses the name for beer. One in SF, another in Portsmouth, NH. Not seeing any active US trademark registrations; a few abandoned TMs for beer, whiskey, glassware.
 
#4 should fit in quite nicely for that brewery, then. Never really thought about trademarks....guess you've have to in a commercial setting. Good luck with it and keep us updated on how it progresses.

Chris
 
The other side of the coin may be that they decide to downplay the whole "smoke" thing altogether. Maybe a less descriptive and more fanciful name will be in order. In talking with the brewer he said that "smoke beer" kind of scares some people off. No doubt due to some having tried (or heard about) the campfire-in-your-mouth Bamberg-style Rauchbiers.

Nevertheless, this Grodziskie isn't real in-your-face with the smoke, despite the nearly 100% smoke malt in the grist. The oak-smoked wheat is much less intense than the typical beech-smoked Rauchmalz. It's just a matter of getting people to try it and win them over.

We want to shoot for a mainstream customer base, and being a 15 Bbl batch, we don't want to end up with a lot of unsold beer. I do think once people try it and see how refreshing it is, they'll come back for more.
 
This is very cool, best of luck! I had to look up the history of the style to understand what was actually going on. Is there any other style of brewing that is named after a locality?

Cheers!
 
Update: I heard from the head brewer. He said he had a few beers in line ahead of mine, so pushing brew day for the Grodziskie back to mid-late Nov.

He was concerned with the 100% wheat malt (stuck sparges) and asked if I was cool with him subbing in some 2-row or Pils. Yeah, he asked! He didn't want to monkey with my recipe unless I was OK with it. The guy's a class act.

I said "hell, yeah," whatever it takes to make this work. After all, he's the pro, so I will defer to his judgment. It was never going to be an authentic Grod, anyway, and having a little less smoke on the palate might be good, as he said smoke beers can scare some customers off.

So I will wait on him to let me know when we'll roll.
 
Just got word from the head brewer and he said all the ingredients are in. He wants me to help with the brewing just after Thanksgiving, 11/28.

I'm stoked!
That's awesome! I've always wanted to visit that brewery, really cool setting. You should be stoked, it pretty cool to say "that's my beer on tap". I'll try to make it there and try your beer.

I just brewed a beer at StormKing just a down the road. I won BOS at the MN State Fair for a German Pils and they offered to brew it on their 10bbl. I brewed it with my youngest a couple of weeks ago and it should be on tap after Thanksgiving. It was pretty cool and John, the head brewer, treated us like royalty.

I hope you enjoy the experience! Hopefully they send you home with a 5 gallon keg of it.
 
Up until now I hadn't disclosed the name of the brewery, as I didn't want to make assumptions or take liberties. Today I mentioned HBT while talking with Matt Asay, the head brewer, he said to go ahead and promote it. The brewery is Forgotten Star Brewing, in Fridley, MN. No doubt some of you have already read between the lines and figured that out.

For those of you who don't know the brewery, it's in a former WWII armaments plant. The place has a lot of cool history and I recently found out my wife's dad worked at the plant shortly after he rotated out of the Navy in WWII. The beers are excellent, and it's our main go-to brewery, as we don't go to many others.

I don't know what the grain-to-glass time will be for this beer, but I'm guessing it'll be ready mid-Dec or so. I'll post after brew day and let everyone know when it should be rolled out for serving.
 
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Up until now I hadn't disclosed the name of the brewery, as I didn't want to make assumptions or take liberties. Today I mentioned HBT while talking with Matt Asay, the head brewer, he said to go ahead and promote it. The brewery is Forgotten Star Brewing, in Fridley, MN. No doubt some of you have already read between the lines and figured that out.

For those of you who don't know the brewery, it's in a former WWII armaments plant. The place has a lot of cool history and I recently found out my wife's dad worked at the plant shortly after he rotated out of the Navy in WWII. The beers are excellent, and it's our main go-to brewery, as we don't go to many others.

I don't know what the grain-to-glass time will be for this beer, but I'm guessing it'll be ready mid-Dec or so. I'll post after brew day and let everyone know when it should be rolled out for serving.
A fellow brewer from the promised land! I'm in Iowa, but grew up in Moohread. Always pine for my home state, and get back as often as I can. Really cool thing you got going with Forgotten Star! I'll have to see if I can get my hands on some.
 
Up until now I hadn't disclosed the name of the brewery, as I didn't want to make assumptions or take liberties. Today I mentioned HBT while talking with Matt Asay, the head brewer, he said to go ahead and promote it. The brewery is Forgotten Star Brewing, in Fridley, MN. No doubt some of you have already read between the lines and figured that out.

For those of you who don't know the brewery, it's in a former WWII armaments plant. The place has a lot of cool history and I recently found out my wife's dad worked at the plant shortly after he rotated out of the Navy in WWII. The beers are excellent, and it's our main go-to brewery, as we don't go to many others.

I don't know what the grain-to-glass time will be for this beer, but I'm guessing it'll be ready mid-Dec or so. I'll post after brew day and let everyone know when it should be rolled out for serving.
Congratulations! What a great opportunity for you!

I can't wait to hear (or read) about your experiences.

Good luck and enjoy (I know you will)!
 
I did the pro/am yesterday at Forgotten Star. Brewed 15 bbls of Grodziskie. Had a blast!

The brewery is located in a 1920s factory building that has a very colorful history. It was a pump manufacturer in the '20s and '30s, but after Pearl Harbor, its mission switched to building naval guns. The "E" and the stars painted on the left smokestack denote quality awards the company earned from the War Dept. in its service during WWII. The industrial park it sits in still holds manufacturing facilities for BAE Systems, nearby.

Forgotten Star has been here since 2019.

01a.jpg


I started at 8AM, and Matt, the head brewer said I could participate as much or as little as I wanted. Of course, I chose "as much," as I wanted to get my hands dirty and learn some things. His two assistant brewers were also on hand, so we had a good crew.

Matt followed my recipe, but with an adjustment. Mashing 100% wheat was too risky, so we went with 50/50 Weyermann Pilsner and Weyermann Oak Smoked Wheat malt, with 3% acid malt for pH adjustment. Didn't want a stuck sparge.

Aside from that, Matt wanted to stick close to my recipe. Same hops (Saaz), and same yeast (Chico). Even getting close to the same water I used. About 50ppm Ca, and around 60-70ppm sulfate and chloride. The brewery builds its water from RO. They are even planning to use the name I suggested, "Smokestack Lightning," from the old Howlin' Wolf song. It's not a true-to-form Grodziskie, but something the brewers think will appeal to their customers.

Their auger is not working so I volunteered to hump bags of grain up the stairs to the mash tun, just over 900lbs. I needed to work off some Thanksgiving pounds. ;)

03a.jpg


05a.jpg


We mashed in at 150, took a pH reading after about 20 minutes. It was high, despite the acid malt, about 5.65. So they added some phosphoric acid and we soon had pH down to around 5.45.

02a.jpg


Recirculated for about a half hour, then time to rack into the boil kettle.

04a.jpg


We did a 60 minute boil with Magnum at 60, then Saaz at 10.

10a.jpg


At knockout did a whirlpool for 30 minutes. Left that kettle trub behind.

16a.jpg


Pumped the wort through the chiller, oxygenated, and racked to the FV.

13a.jpg


Using at T-connector with valves we purged the sanitizer from the line, used a sight glass to see when the wort flowed in. Then switched the valves and up it goes into the FV. Ferm temp was set to 65. OG was 12 Brix. They're shooting for a FG of about 3 Brix, and an ABV just north of 4.5%. The beer should be ready to serve in 2-3 weeks.

12a.jpg


14a.jpg


They crop their yeast--up to 20 generations for ale yeast and 7 or 8 gens for lager--and had a fresh batch of Chico pressurized in a 16 gallon keg. They connected it via a hose to the T, and pumped in 15 lbs about halfway during the racking, so it would be well-distributed in the FV. One of the brewers told of a time when a bunch of cropped yeast blew out of a keg (something not connected), so I decided to step back a few paces. ;) They don't measure cells, but use a rule-of-thumb of just over 1 lb cropped yeast per degree Brix for a 15 bbl batch of ale, double that for lagers. They put the keg on a scale, tared, then force fed it to the FV until the scale read minus 15 lbs.

15a.jpg


Then, the fun job of cleaning the spent grain from the mash tun. We scooped it into several rolling tubs and took it outside. A farmer stops by each week to take it away for hog feed.

07a.jpg


After cleanup, we hung out a bit. I brought a couple homebrews for the three brewers to sample and give feedback. Then Matt asked if I needed any malt. They had a bunch of Pilsner and Munich I approaching their use-by dates (Feb 2024). It's still good (we used 440 lbs of Pilsner that day), but they wouldn't use the rest of it. He said to take as much I wanted. So I grabbed a few bags. More than I can use, but will give some away. It was a nice, generous gesture, as my time there was as an unpaid internship sort of arrangement and I wasn't expecting anything.

17a.jpg


I had a chance to talk general brewing topics with Matt, as there are lots of little downtime periods during the process. Forgotten Star is content to keep brewing for the taproom and crowler/growler sales. They have no plans at this time to package and distribute, as the margins are quite thin and it brings in a lot a middlemen.

They are venturing into some barrel-aged beers. In fact, a guy from a nearby distillery came by to drop off some rye whiskey barrels that morning.

Their beers have won gold and silver medals from GABF, Minnesota Brewers Cup and US Beer Open Championship. They just added a new oatmeal stout so I'll be visiting later this week to try some. The brewery has food trucks most days, but they are cool with outside food being brought in. Check it out if you're in the Twin Cities, or passing through.
 
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I did the pro/am yesterday at Forgotten Star. Brewed 15 bbls of Grodziskie. Had a blast!

The brewery is located in a 1920s factory building that has a very colorful history. It was a pump manufacturer in the '20s and '30s, but after Pearl Harbor, its mission switched to building naval guns. The "E" and the stars painted on the left smokestack denote quality awards the company earned from the War Dept. in its service during WWII. The industrial park it sits in still holds manufacturing facilities for BAE Systems, nearby.

Forgotten Star has been here since 2019.

View attachment 835110

I started at 8AM, and Matt, the head brewer said I could participate as much or as little as I wanted. Of course, I chose "as much," as I wanted to get my hands dirty and learn some things. His two assistant brewers were also on hand, so we had a good crew.

Matt followed my recipe, but with an adjustment. Mashing 100% wheat was too risky, so we went with 50/50 Weyermann Pilsner and Weyermann Oak Smoked Wheat malt, with 3% acid malt for pH adjustment. Didn't want a stuck sparge.

Aside from that, Matt wanted to stick close to my recipe. Same hops (Saaz), and same yeast (Chico). Even getting close to the same water I used. About 50ppm Ca, and around 60-70ppm sulfate and chloride. The brewery builds its water from RO. They are even planning to use the name I suggested, "Smokestack Lightning," from the old Howlin' Wolf song. It's not a true-to-form Grodziskie, but something the brewers think will appeal to their customers.

Their auger is not working so I volunteered to hump bags of grain up the stairs to the mash tun, just over 900lbs. I needed to work off some Thanksgiving pounds. ;)

View attachment 835113

View attachment 835114

We mashed in at 150, took a pH reading after about 20 minutes. It was high, despite the acid malt, about 5.65. So they added some phosphoric acid and we soon had pH down to around 5.45.

View attachment 835112

Recirculated for about a half hour, then time to rack into the boil kettle.

View attachment 835115

We did a 60 minute boil with Magnum at 60, then Saaz at 10.

View attachment 835116

At knockout did a whirlpool for 30 minutes. Left that kettle trub behind.

View attachment 835119

Pumped the wort through the chiller, oxygenated, and racked to the FV.

View attachment 835120

Using at T-connector with valves we purged the sanitizer from the line, used a sight glass to see when the wort flowed in. Then switched the valves and up it goes into the FV. Ferm temp was set to 65. OG was 12 Brix. They're shooting for a FG of about 3 Brix, and an ABV just north of 4.5%.

View attachment 835117

View attachment 835121

They crop their yeast--up to 20 generations for ale yeast and 7 or 8 gens for lager--and had a fresh batch of Chico pressurized in a 16 gallon keg. They connected it via a hose to the T, and pumped in 15 lbs about halfway during the racking, so it would be well-distributed in the FV. One of the brewers told of a time when a bunch of cropped yeast blew out of a keg (something not connected), so I decided to step back a few paces. ;) They don't measure cells, but use a rule-of-thumb of just over 1 lb cropped yeast per degree Brix for a 15 bbl batch of ale, double that for lagers. They put the keg on a scale, tared, then force fed it to the FV until the scale read minus 15 lbs.

View attachment 835118

Then, the fun job of cleaning the spent grain from the mash tun. We scooped it into several rolling tubs and took it outside. A farmer stops by each week to take it away for hog feed.

View attachment 835123

After cleanup, we hung out a bit. I brought a couple homebrews for the three brewers to sample and give feedback. Then Matt asked if I needed any malt. They had a bunch of Pilsner and Munich I approaching their use-by dates (Feb 2024). It's still good (we used 440 lbs of Pilsner that day), but they wouldn't use the rest of it. He said to take as much I wanted. So I grabbed a few bags. More than I can use, but will give some away. It was a nice, generous gesture, as my time there was as an unpaid internship sort of arrangement and I wasn't expecting anything.

View attachment 835122

I had a chance to talk general brewing topics with Matt, as there are lots of little downtime periods during the process. Forgotten Star is content to keep brewing for the taproom and crowler/growler sales. They have no plans at this time to package and distribute, as the margins are quite thin and it brings in a lot a middlemen.

They are venturing into some barrel-aged beers. In fact, a guy from a nearby distillery came by to drop off some rye whiskey barrels that morning.

Their beers have won gold and silver medals from GABF, Minnesota Brewers Cup and US Beer Open Championship. They just added a new oatmeal stout so I'll be visiting later this week to try some. The brewery has food trucks most days, but they are cool with outside food being brought in. Check it out if you're in the Twin Cities, or passing through.
Awesome!! I'll try to stop in there next time I'm in MN.
 
I did the pro/am yesterday at Forgotten Star. Brewed 15 bbls of Grodziskie. Had a blast!

The brewery is located in a 1920s factory building that has a very colorful history. It was a pump manufacturer in the '20s and '30s, but after Pearl Harbor, its mission switched to building naval guns. The "E" and the stars painted on the left smokestack denote quality awards the company earned from the War Dept. in its service during WWII. The industrial park it sits in still holds manufacturing facilities for BAE Systems, nearby.

Forgotten Star has been here since 2019.

View attachment 835110

I started at 8AM, and Matt, the head brewer said I could participate as much or as little as I wanted. Of course, I chose "as much," as I wanted to get my hands dirty and learn some things. His two assistant brewers were also on hand, so we had a good crew.

Matt followed my recipe, but with an adjustment. Mashing 100% wheat was too risky, so we went with 50/50 Weyermann Pilsner and Weyermann Oak Smoked Wheat malt, with 3% acid malt for pH adjustment. Didn't want a stuck sparge.

Aside from that, Matt wanted to stick close to my recipe. Same hops (Saaz), and same yeast (Chico). Even getting close to the same water I used. About 50ppm Ca, and around 60-70ppm sulfate and chloride. The brewery builds its water from RO. They are even planning to use the name I suggested, "Smokestack Lightning," from the old Howlin' Wolf song. It's not a true-to-form Grodziskie, but something the brewers think will appeal to their customers.

Their auger is not working so I volunteered to hump bags of grain up the stairs to the mash tun, just over 900lbs. I needed to work off some Thanksgiving pounds. ;)

View attachment 835113

View attachment 835114

We mashed in at 150, took a pH reading after about 20 minutes. It was high, despite the acid malt, about 5.65. So they added some phosphoric acid and we soon had pH down to around 5.45.

View attachment 835112

Recirculated for about a half hour, then time to rack into the boil kettle.

View attachment 835115

We did a 60 minute boil with Magnum at 60, then Saaz at 10.

View attachment 835116

At knockout did a whirlpool for 30 minutes. Left that kettle trub behind.

View attachment 835119

Pumped the wort through the chiller, oxygenated, and racked to the FV.

View attachment 835120

Using at T-connector with valves we purged the sanitizer from the line, used a sight glass to see when the wort flowed in. Then switched the valves and up it goes into the FV. Ferm temp was set to 65. OG was 12 Brix. They're shooting for a FG of about 3 Brix, and an ABV just north of 4.5%. The beer should be ready to serve in 2-3 weeks.

View attachment 835117

View attachment 835121

They crop their yeast--up to 20 generations for ale yeast and 7 or 8 gens for lager--and had a fresh batch of Chico pressurized in a 16 gallon keg. They connected it via a hose to the T, and pumped in 15 lbs about halfway during the racking, so it would be well-distributed in the FV. One of the brewers told of a time when a bunch of cropped yeast blew out of a keg (something not connected), so I decided to step back a few paces. ;) They don't measure cells, but use a rule-of-thumb of just over 1 lb cropped yeast per degree Brix for a 15 bbl batch of ale, double that for lagers. They put the keg on a scale, tared, then force fed it to the FV until the scale read minus 15 lbs.

View attachment 835118

Then, the fun job of cleaning the spent grain from the mash tun. We scooped it into several rolling tubs and took it outside. A farmer stops by each week to take it away for hog feed.

View attachment 835123

After cleanup, we hung out a bit. I brought a couple homebrews for the three brewers to sample and give feedback. Then Matt asked if I needed any malt. They had a bunch of Pilsner and Munich I approaching their use-by dates (Feb 2024). It's still good (we used 440 lbs of Pilsner that day), but they wouldn't use the rest of it. He said to take as much I wanted. So I grabbed a few bags. More than I can use, but will give some away. It was a nice, generous gesture, as my time there was as an unpaid internship sort of arrangement and I wasn't expecting anything.

View attachment 835122

I had a chance to talk general brewing topics with Matt, as there are lots of little downtime periods during the process. Forgotten Star is content to keep brewing for the taproom and crowler/growler sales. They have no plans at this time to package and distribute, as the margins are quite thin and it brings in a lot a middlemen.

They are venturing into some barrel-aged beers. In fact, a guy from a nearby distillery came by to drop off some rye whiskey barrels that morning.

Their beers have won gold and silver medals from GABF, Minnesota Brewers Cup and US Beer Open Championship. They just added a new oatmeal stout so I'll be visiting later this week to try some. The brewery has food trucks most days, but they are cool with outside food being brought in. Check it out if you're in the Twin Cities, or passing through.
Super cool!!
Are you going to work full time with them now?

Really, congratulations, great opportunity!
 
Yes indeed! Thank you for entertaining us with your hella cool "adventure in pro brewing"!
It sounds like you had a fine day of it! Hope you'll follow up when that brew hits the taps! :mug:

Cheers!
 
Will do, @day_trippr!

I know many HBT members have worked in breweries or have brewed beers with them, so it's old hat. But I don't recall seeing much discussion here on this. I thought it would be fun to share the experience.

If anyone gets the opportunity to do a pro/am, go for it! I learned so much that day, and an appreciation of the planning and hard work that goes into each batch of craft beer. Even though the equipment and scale and the expertise are different, beneath all that beats the heart of homebrewing. The science is the same.
 
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They used your recipe, what tweaks did they have to do to brew it on their system? What differences were there in scaling it up?

Most of us here are doing 1-15+ gallon batches so it would be interesting to hear from you what changed on your initial recipe.

As always, thanks!
 
They used your recipe, what tweaks did they have to do to brew it on their system? What differences were there in scaling it up?

Most of us here are doing 1-15+ gallon batches so it would be interesting to hear from you what changed on your initial recipe.

As always, thanks!

Only 2 changes. Instead of 100% smoked wheat malt we did 50/50 with Pilsner malt, to avoid a stuck sparge. And bittering with Magnum at 60, which really doesn't matter, as that is neutral. We still used Saaz for flavor/aroma at 10 minutes, as I did in the HB test batch. Aside from those tweaks, we kept close to my recipe.

The malt bill was 440 lbs Weyermann Pilsner, 440 lbs Weyermann Oak-Smoked Wheat, 27 lbs. acid malt. It was scaled at the same rate I used in my 5.5 gal test batch. That was based on them projecting a similar brewhouse efficiency. We hit our post-boil gravity numbers, 12 Brix (1.048).

The hydrometer samples we drew after racking to the FV had just the right amount of smoke aroma. I think it will turn out well.


Wed morning, Matt texted with this pic of the blowoff, just 18 hours after pitching. Active ferm! No surprise, given the freshly-cropped slurry we pitched.

ItsAlive.jpg
 
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