First published on 28 Aug 2012. Updated on 15 Oct 2012.
So, how did we go with our Craft Beer Week challenge? Well, here's the grain-to-schooey breakdown:
To start, we want to pick a special flavour – something no one else is doing. Adriano Zumbo and Darren Robertson from the Three Blue Ducks are also brewing beers to be showcased the same night as Time Out (that’s the 23rd of October at 4 Pines, folks) so we mentally tick off anything foraged and anything remotely resembling a macaron.
We sit down with head brewer Andrew Tweddell and spit-ball some ideas. Most of which he shoots down. Guinness, oyster and surf weeds? Nope. Wagon Wheel? Nuh uh. Toobs? Burger Rings? Twisties? Just stop right there. We’re running out of ideas at this point, and were about to suggest yabby sandwich, when it comes to us: New Orleans Breakfast – a mash-up of chicory coffee and beignets, cinnamon and dandelion. He likes it. We make a brew date and spend a lot of time boasting to anyone that’ll listen in the meantime.
The big day arrives, and it turns out drinking beer is a lot easier than brewing it.
8.am Now, Andrew is an early riser and we’re not used to getting out of bed before the sun’s high in the sky. But we rouse ourselves and get over to Manly at 8am (akin to midday in a brewer’s books).
We grab a coffee from Barefoot Coffee Traders
and talk tactics. Andrew runs us through the whole process, which is something of a waiting – then rushing around – then waiting some more game.
Check and read the recipe card. Turns out making beer is much like any recipe – it’s all about getting things to the right temperature, and adding the right ingredients, measured in the right quantities, at the right time. Of course, it also helps to have a master brewer on hand. Left to our own devices, we're pretty sure 4 Pines would've blown up by now.
We crush up the dandelion and chicory in a mortar and pestle and measure out hops (there’s one called ‘Fuggles’ to our great delight).
Mash in. This basically equates to us insisting on pouring the huge, heavy sacks of barley, oats and malt into the giant stainless steel kettle while it fills with water. Andrew had to pour the first quarter of each bag before we could lift them.
We test the mix for starch by dropping a little iodine on a plateful of the watery mash. If it turns up black, there’s still too much starch, and it needs to be cooked out. And lo, it turns black.
More waiting and fiddling with heat and water levels and knobs and dials (cue taking selfies for Twitter wearing giant plastic goggles and big gloves). Then it all happens quite quickly. The proto-beer is flushed and filtered into the second kettle. You actually get to watch the beer make its way over to the other kettle, Augustus Gloop-style.
The second kettle starts to fill up. Once the element is covered (a bit like those old ceramic kettles your nan would’ve had) and the mix gets up to 90 degrees, we can start adding the exciting stuff.
12.30 We kick back and eat a chicken parma.
Add the hops. This is about the time you’re most likely to get a steam burn – opening the lid on a giant vat of boiling almost-beer. But we are hard-core. We are Jesse Pinkman to Andrew’s Walter White. We do not fear steam. Much.
1pm Add the dandelion, chicory and cinnamon. It smells like a Donut King in here. There’s a bit of fear we’ve gone too hard on the cinnamon.
1.30pm Muck out the mash from the first kettle – 125kg of the stuff, which gets picked up weekly by a nearby dairy farmer. He claims to notice a huge difference in the milk if he ever misses a batch.
2pm The beer’s ready to go into the final tank to get chilled down. Andrew pours in the live yeast. It’ll now take a month before the beer’s ready to drink.
The Time Out brew, New Orleans breakfast, will be launched on the evening of October 23 at 4 Pines, alongside craft beers from the Three Blue Ducks’ Darren Robertson and Adriano Zumbo. Come along and try them for yourself. All it’ll cost you is the price of a beer.