Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Grand Cru Homebrew

By Brian,

My son, Sean, & I spent Saturday afternoon on our second batch of home brew: A GRAND CRU.
The best definition I could find for a Grand Cru is: "Grand Cru was originally a designation that a winemaker gave to an exceptional batch/blend” - something that knocked his socks off so to speak. As European wine harvests can be quite variable, this is a designation that may not be made every year, or even for several years, or even at all. It has evolved from a designation of exceptional quality to a marketing label. As brewing is more dependent on the skills of the malting house and the brewer than the season's weather for the production of fermentable sugars, it always was curious to me that brewer's would include "exceptional harvest" as a beer descriptor. My hunch is that it is an attempt to attract folks that appreciate fine wine to cross over and try craft beer - it is a marketing descriptor and an attempt to attract wine consumers, nothing else. Whereas brewers have much more control and can brew typically all year long, a winemaker has one shot per year.  I don't consider wine better than beer (or the other way around), just different. I would say the designation "Grand Bière" or "Grand Fermenter" would be a better description for a product that a brewer was exceptionally proud of.

Our brewing kit came from Midwest Supplies LLC in St Louis Park, MN and they describe their Grand Cru as "a combination of spicy German hops, coriander, orange peel and honey which creates a unique Belgian white beer".
First, THE BREW: This typically takes up to 3 hours to complete the home brew. It consists of boiling the water, adding the hops, malt, coriander, orange peel and honey at different points during the malting process.

Second, THE FERMINATOR: This is the most frustrating step because it means we must wait 3 weeks before we can bottle. Then comes the painful step of waiting up to an additional 4 weeks as the sugars which are added just prior to the bottling, add carbonation.
7 WEEKS! Why can't some mad scientist create a brewing process that  works in 5 minutes? 7 WEEKS! I COULD BE DEAD IN 7 WEEKS!

Fortunately, I can also go to the basement and try our first home brew. Our Father & Son Chocolate Stout was brewed in late September, bottled on October 15th and has been our featured beer for the past 4 weeks. Each week our "LIQUID GOLD" has gotten just a little better. Some members of my family and I held a Stout tasting contest on Thanksgiving and although our stout didn't come in first, it didn't come in last either.

January 28th. 7 weeks from now can't come fast enough.

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