On a hot day in August, I got to hang out with the brewers at Only Child Brewing in lovely Grayslake, IL (think Gurnee Mills Shopping Center). Looking back, I regret wearing jeans, but that is a story for another day. I followed the brewing process of Double Dog Dare from start to finish.
With that being said, let me introduce you to my new series called The Birth of a Beer. In photos and layman’s terms, I will walk you through the process of making beer. By no means am I an expert. I take in what I see, try and remember it, and then post it here. Each beer and brewery set up is slightly different and each brewer has a different way of doing things, so I love to compare and learn new things from place to place.
And I am dragging you along with me! Let’s get started. Here are a few shots of the brewery to wet your whistle.
Double Dog Dare is a Double IPA brewed with locally sourced honey. The honey for the beer comes from Chalet Nursery in Wilmette, IL. The honey adds this perfect well-rounded sweetness that offsets the usual overwhelming bitterness of a DIPA.
Crushed grains are mixed with hot water. This process is done in a mash tun. A mash tun mixes the malt with water to break down the grains and extrude sugars which will help the bacteria and yeast grow. The hot sugary liquid made from this process is now called “wort.” The wort and the spent grains are separated.
Grains are either trashed or some local bakers have been known to make breads from the spent grain. One day, I will learn how to do this! Mark my words.
The process of removing the grains from the mash tun isn’t really a fun one. It is hot and a lot of shoveling/scooping. It is called “graining out.” It’s fun to learn the lingo. Stick with me.
Wort is transferred to the kettle. The kettle heats the wort for typically 90 minutes. Mosaic hops are added twice during this process. The hops are dry. If you ever hear the term “wet-hopped,” it means fresh hops are used in the brewing process. Knowledge is power! During this process, the honey is also added in a little at a time. This prevents the temperature from dropping too much.
A little interesting tidbit… Some breweries are going for a cloudy feel to their beers. It is this whole New England style trend. You want a beer to look juicy. Only Child is of the more traditional side of clarifying the wort, adding a tablet to the mix before it goes in for fermentation. I appreciate both styles. How about you?
The hopped wort is now rapidly cooled through a heat exchanger. It is basically an AC looking contraption that moves the hopped wort through hoses, cools it, and adds oxygen along the way to the fermentation tank.
Fermentation & Conditioning
The double dry hopped wort is moved to the fermentation tank. Yeast is added, or “pitched.” The beer will ferment for about 1-2 weeks and then the yeast is removed. During that time, the yeast converts the sugars into alcohol and CO2. Keeping the beer slightly cooler than room temperature ensures a nice well rounded flavor to the beer. It gives the yeast more time. The spent yeast usually settles out at the bottom of the conical tank. That way it is easier to remove. Once the yeast is removed, the young beer is conditioned in a different tank, filtered if you want more clarity, and then moved into the final tank to chill.
The beer was canned a little under a month after the entire process started. I wasn’t able to be there on canning day, BUT! I was there for the can release!
Finished product below!
Double Dog Dare Double IPA/ 8.5% ABV
Overall, brewing is fun, hard work, scientific, and a looooot of cleaning and sanitizing. Thanks to the entire Only Child family for letting me crash their brew day. I was so happy that, not only did I get to drink a 4-pack of this DIPA, but I got to go back and grab a second one after Mike and I finished off the first 4-pack.