Inside The Brewer’s Studio: Response to the “First Beer Survey”


Facebook Poll Results

Thanks to the many people who responded to our question regarding what beer you wanted us to brew first. It very interesting to see people’s opinions and was fun to watch the trends of your responses. The final results of the survey were 1) Shire Ale, 2) IPA, 3) Zingabier, 4) Blossom and 5) Daddy-O and 6) Blossom. We have 4 brews in now in this order: 1) Daddy-O English pale ale, 2) Beehave honey ale, 3) Zingabier Belgian ale with ginger, and 4) Shire Ale Scottish ale. “Hey Lacey, whats up? Don’t you listen to the blogosphere?!?” I think I owe an explanation.

First – Three Yeast Strains:

We are going to start with 3 yeast strains to produce a range of beers. These are the American ale yeast (aka California, Chico and Ballantine yeast); Edinburgh Scottish yeast and Belgian Abbey ale. As a new brewery we purchased our initial yeast from White Labs in starter sizes to pitch into 7 barrel batches. After the first batch of each yeast we are able to harvest the yeast from one batch to use in the next. Since the first 3 batches were fermenting at the same time we needed to brew one beer using each of the 3 yeast strains.

Next – Growing a Healthy Community of Yeast:

Yeast eats sugar and, like humans, if there is too much sugar around, the yeast tries to overeat and gets stressed. The first beer a starter of yeast is used with, should not be a big beer with high sugar content. For those of you who are not brewers keep in mind that starting with a high percentage of sugar will result in a higher alcohol content in the beer. So, our first batches needed to be low or medium sugar content; which ruled out the IPA and Shire ale. The honey ale is perfect since it is a low gravity beer (low sugar content) and honey is a healthy nutrient for yeast.

Another Factor – Risk:

You would not believe how many things can go wrong brewing beer. In my homebrew life the worst thing that can happen is that I have used $30 of ingredients to end up with 10 gallons of bad beer that I have to drink myself. When the scale is 25 times greater, and the process involves pumps and hoses and tanks that all need to be properly sanitized. The wrong turn of a valve can have us watching gallons of beer flowing across the floor to the drain. How does this affect brewing order? To be honest (and practical…) I was scared to waste over 50 pounds of great local honey, New York malt and hops from my friend Clair Haus in my first batch. So that ruled out the honey ale for #1 which I said earlier would be a great yeast starter batch.

Final Story:

What does all of this mean?  Well it means that we started with Daddy-O which was the smaller beer using Edinburgh yeast. The second beer (because I really wanted to use that honey) was the Honey Ale using the American ale yeast. That left Zingabier as the third batch with Abbey yeast. And that is how we got started and we all hope that it yields some pretty amazing brews!