I rocked up just as Al and Matthew were sitting down to some breakfast at The Taproom. Impeccable timing. I ordered Eggs Benedict, and we got to chatting about the brew bubbling away on the small system.
Matthew, co-founder of the SA Beer Club, won the opportunity to spend a day brewing at Devil’s Peak through a competition run by the Brewmistress, Lucy Corne. From the first day the winner was announced on Twitter, he has been chomping at the bit.
“It’s such a privilege to get to brew at Devil’s Peak,” he said as we finished eating.
Both he and Al checked their phones constantly for timers. They had just mashed out before I arrived and were getting ready to start the lauter.
Our 90 test system isn’t that much different from the ones homebrewers often use. Matthew is an avid homebrewer, and you could tell he was checking out every inch of that rig.
“I normally brew 20 litre batches. It’s really cool to see how a big brewery like Devil’s Peak still uses a smaller system for recipe development. I had no idea,” Matthew said as he fiddled with one of the connector pipes.
“But I guess equipment doesn’t make a good beer. The brewer does.”
Before long, clear dark liquid was pumping into one of the 90 litre kegs. The style of the day was an American Brown Ale, though with the amount of hops used, India Brown Ale could be argued.
“For the malt bill, we used a bit of everything. Pale, rye, biscuit, Vienna, some Caraaroma for a bit of caramel flavour, and a little Carafa 1 and 2 for some dark chocolate and coffee notes,”
Al considered the hop profile off as he juggled a hot hose pipe and peered into the swirling wort.
“Chinook and Columbus with Nelson Sauvin for dry hopping,” he added.
The thing they don’t tell you about brewing is how much time is spent standing around. There are flurries of 5 to 10 minutes when everything is happening at once, and then you just kind of chill out for an hour or two – checking temperatures and clock watching while the “soon to be beer” does its thing.
Thirsty work, that. Between all the stirring, pumping, lifting, moving, and giant open flames, the three of us were about spent by the end of the day. Being a load of hopheads, a celebratory King’s Blockhouse was in order.
Matthew looked quite pleased at the result. A day spent in one of his favourite breweries, taking tips from a guy who breaths the industry 24/7, and sipping on a few cold ones. And to boot, he’ll be able to try this beer at The Taproom in early March!
“A massive thank you to the Brewmistress and Devil’s Peak for the opportunity. It was an epic day!”
Thanks for coming by, Matthew! It’s always great to spend time with people who are as passionate about beer as we are.