GABF Collaboration Experiences?

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by VikeMan, May 13, 2013.

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  1. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,422) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    For those who have collaborated with a pro brewer for a GABF Pro-Am entry (or similar collaboration), would you care to share your experience? For example... Was it fun? How much input/influence do you feel you had? Did the beer end up tasting much like your original homebrew? Did you learn anything? TIA!
  2. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,253) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    The ones I have done with a local brewpub were not eligible due to the fact that the pub's comp was not AHA/BJCP sanctioned. The files are on the GABF page.

    So what did you win?
    rmalinowski4 likes this.
  3. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,422) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    BOS at Brewfest (Mount Hope, PA) this past weekend. (Bohemian Pilsner.)
    So what was your experience like, even if not GABF eligible?
    sergeantstogie likes this.
  4. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,253) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Good job on a hard style to brew.

    Fun, I had a blast both time. The brewers are fun people. Worked our butts off, it is hard labor.

    They have to translate the recipe to their system, ingredients on hand (they might buy some for your beer), and aging time. The beer won't be the same, but similar.

    You will learn a bunch, not all we be home brewing related. Sometimes the pros will learn from a home brewer. The pub now has a beer they call EOB, which is all of the hops added at flameout + a whirlpool. That was what we did for a cream ale that won.
  5. sarcastro

    sarcastro Disciple (332) Sep 20, 2006 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    What brewpub?
  6. carteravebrew

    carteravebrew Zealot (501) Jan 21, 2010 Colorado

    Hiphopj5 and I brewed an oatmeal stout at New Belgium for GABF Pro-am. We got there on a Wednesday afternoon, hung out with Grady Hull (assistant brewmaster) and helped develop the recipe on their scale...sort of. This was more of us sitting at his desk while he played with the numbers on a spreadsheet because a) it's obviously a huge system (we brewed a batch that is 1/2 the size of their normal Fat Tire batch size) that we're not used to, and b) it was all in metric. So he already had a recipe put together based off of the original homebrew scale recipe, then just asked us questions here and there and tweaked the percentages. The rest of the day, we got a VIP tour, did a lot of sampling, and just hung out really.

    Thursday we met around 10 a.m. with a couple of the brewers. The thing about New Belgium is that it is a huge operation compared to most microbreweries. So they already have all their base malt in a silo that goes straight to their mill and into the mash tun. We had about 50 bags (50 lbs each) of specialty grains that we had to cut open and dump into a hopper. From there, they went through the mill and into the mash tun. Then we had to dump about 25 bags of oats into the mash tun. And that was pretty much it as far as the physical side goes. Again, it's a big operation, and it was very hands off. Everything is automated by their computer system. I guess we had to dump in the hops and hundreds of bags of sugar (they could only find 2 lb bags, which was kind of funny). Also, they take gravity readings a few times throughout the boil; then there was switching a few valves to run the wort from the boil kettle to the fermenter.

    Did we learn anything? Eh...I think we would have learned a lot more on a much smaller/hands on operation. There, instead of milling all the grains, cleaning out a mash tun, hooking up lines to transfer from vessel to vessel, sanitizing everything, etc etc, somebody just pushed a button when it was time to be done, and it was all done automatically.

    Was it fun? Yes, absolutely. Seeing your recipe being brewed on a professional system is probably the most gratifying thing a home brewer can ask for (besides going pro yourself, if that's in your interest). Everyone at New Belgium is really awesome, and everybody talked about how much they love working there (very refreshing to hear good morale - I work in customer service, so I don't witness that very often).

    Did we feel like we had input? Yeah, more or less. We provided the original recipe and gave our opinions on suggested tweaks, and they were all ears. The brew ended up tasting almost identical to the homebrew recipe, which is impressive considering the magnitude of the upscaling.

    Hope that helps.
    DAllspaw, rmalinowski4 and PortLargo like this.
  7. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,253) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Grizzly Peak.
  8. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,253) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    If you want hands on pro brewing, do it at a small brewpub. GP now has a 14 bbl sydt with a manway in the mash tin, so that would make clean out easier. Still a lot of lifting and cleaning in a days brew. Those guys work very hard.
  9. bbarrows

    bbarrows Initiate (0) Sep 14, 2008 California

    I brewed my Belgian-style patersbier with DC Brau last year. It was educational since the brewers led me through how to use their system on our first brew session, then I was supervised and allowed to do most of the process myself for the second. (2 15-barrel brews). It wasn't eligible for pro-am, but the beer earned silver in the Belgian and French-style ale category. (Losing to Lost Abbey). They adjusted my recipe to the efficient of their system, and used their house Belgian strain (Rochefort) instead of the one I used (Chimay).
    rmalinowski4 likes this.
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