Saturday, January 19, 2013

Spent Grain

Now that we're starting to sell some beer out of Cerveceria Dos Aves (the smallest brewery in the world). I'm brewing several times a week and with that comes the by-product of my efforts, heavy, wet, spent grains from the mash tun. It wasn't long before I discovered that I had nowhere to dump my spent grain. There are no dumpsters in San Miguel that I could just toss it into and I didn't want to stock pile it for a week while waiting on the trash truck to pass down my street ringing their sheet metal bell signalling the residence that it was time to take out the trash. I also don't think the trash men that man the bed of the truck picking out recyclables from the regular filth would appreciate hauling a couple hundred pounds of wet and sour barley husks up into the back or for that matter, spending the rest of the day with it underfoot.

Shortly after brewing my first batch I noticed some twenty-something slackers hanging outside the entrance to the neighborhood tienda a short distance down the cobbled street. Occasionally they would glance up towards the odd gringo that was new to the barrio who spent his day cooking something in beer kegs. I asked my friend Antonio who was helping me out this day what he thought I could do with all the wasted grain and he immediately scooped up the plastic bag full of spent grain and headed in the direction of the slackers. Antonio had a short conversation in Spanish with one of them, a slender but tough looking tattooed girl who peered suspiciously into the bag and then nodded approval. She took the bag from Antonio and disappeared into the darken entrance of a nearby concrete niche. Antonio explained to me that these youngsters apparently raised fighting cocks on the roof of their apartments and could use the grain for free feed. Problem solved. Not Quite.

The author goes riding
I would be brewing a lot of beer and I feared that the chickens would not be able to consume as much as I would be producing. I put a call out on the local on-line community forum asking for someone with livestock to come and remove it as I needed. I was answered by a few people but one, Victor, proved to be the best candidate. He has several horses, goats and a cow that all would love to have the barley to supplement their normal intake. The day I brew I make the call and at the end of the brew session Victor arrives and hauls it away. He explained that he has to dry the grain before the horses will eat it and so he built a primitive drying rack which he says is too small and that he'll be making another to deal with all of the additional grains that I'll be giving him.

A horse sampling the grain. Is it dry enough?

Victor was so appreciative to have the grain that he invited me and my wife to where the feed was going and to go horseback riding in the country. We spent a very enjoyable afternoon meeting the animals and riding. It was great to get out of the city for awhile and I was glad to see the grain going to a good cause.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Bottling Beer

I've been very busy the last couple of weeks. Besides recovering from the worst flu known to man, I taught the first brewing class of the year in San Miguel and brewed, got a logo designed, bottled and labeled several batches of beer.

The brewery logo - thanks Susan!

I've realized that I will need to schedule and get attendance for regular beginner and all-grain brewing classes if I'm going to be able to afford to stay here permanently. Although I'm brewing a lot of beer and working hard to get people interested in buying it, it's a slow battle and from my projections, will not afford me a living for quite a while. So, I have to be realistic about this project and put more emphasis on getting Beer School attendance.

The first all-grain class only had two students but they were enthusiastic and seemed to have an enjoyable experience. We brewed together, an IPA that when complete I'm hoping will be for sale at The Beer Company in San Miguel. The brew session went fine with the exception of a stuck sparge. Together we managed to dump the wet grain into a couple of buckets at which point I switched out the braided hose for a slotted manifold. This solved the problem and we continued on with the brew.
Both students spoke English which was a good thing considering my Spanish is no bueno. Fortunately, I met an interpreter that wants to help with the Spanish speaking students in future classes. Next class up will be a beginner (malt extract with steeping grains) class scheduled for January 20th. and I'm looking forward to having Mexican students in the class and having the experience of working through an interpreter. Naturally I'm studying my Spanish and should be able to go it alone by next year.

Students eager to learn the all-grain process

There are other things I've managed to accomplishment  in the last couple weeks while enduring what could only be referred to as the Mexican flu from hell. I brewed two more batches of pale ale and an IPA which are now in kegs and I've got another pale ale in the fermentor from a batch in which I acidified both the mash and the sparge water. Oh yeah, I've got a reverse osmosis water filter limping along that could provide the brewery with soft water at a rate of about five gallons a day. This I'll use to dilute the extremely hard water. We've got a water sample sent off to Ward Labs as of today and next week I will be able to use the information from that report to determine the dilution ratio needed for the tap water in the brewery.
Beer! Bottled, labeled and ready for shipping

Oh, by the way, if you pledged money for the Beer School project during my Kickstarter promotion last year and were disappointed that we didn't make the goal and you're still itching to donate, I'm totally open to accepting it anyway. Just click on the Donate button on the side bar. It'll be put to good use, like the purchase of a white board. Cheers!

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