Stop The Presses!

So, in regards to my early pledges to update the website more often, I have clearly reneged. My other brewery related New Year’s Resolution, to be comfortable with the metric system, is going equally well.

On the bright side we have had a veritable onslaught of positive press during the Holiday and just post Holiday season. I suppose this is pretty good news!

Thanks so much to The Improper Bostonian, The Boston Phoenix, Boston.com/The Boston Globe, and Howl in Lowell!

The bad news, however, is that all of this positive press has quite literally sold us out of beer. I don’t even have any private stock to drink in my apartment. These are truly dark times.
 That sad, I have a batch of Cosmos and Illumination ready for bottling this weekend as well as more Cosmos, Enlightenment, and Rite of Spring in the primary fermenter. There’s also a batch of Enlightenment Brut just about ready to come off of the riddling racks. Salvation is near!

Anyways, thanks so much to everyone for sticking with us despite my inability to keep an inventory. One of these days I’ll get this whole business thing figured out. For now though, here’s a nice photograph of a glass of Rite of Spring: Honey Saison. Oh, and one of Enlightenment batch #5, because I never get tired of photos of beer.

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A Long Expected Update

So, as usual, it’s been half as long as the age of the Earth since I’ve updated the website. Someday they will build monuments to my laziness.

In the meantime, here’s a taste of everything that’s been going on…

First off, Cosmos: Export Stout has been released! Batch #1 is now on shelves with batch #2 maturing in the brewery. Batch #3 should be brewing next week. I suggest enjoying a bottle with good friends and the winter night sky. Happy solstice!

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Check out that label! Props to Liz Jacobs and Jeff Jacobs!

Oh, and here’s a family photo:

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In other non-Cosmos related news, test batching has begun on one of my favorite beer styles: Barleywine! So far I’ve brewed 45 gallons for a test batch.  Once I get this bottled and consumed this winter (taking extensive notes the whole time I’m sure) I plan on brewing 180 gallons to be aged during the summer for a 2013 winter release.  Lord Mantis is coming.

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In case you’re somehow not quite bored yet with all of my updates, you’ll be excited to learn that I’ve also begun brewing the first batches of my early spring beer, “Rite of Spring.” This Honey Saison is brewed with 15% Massachusetts wildflower honey, dry-hopped with generous quantities of Palisades and Hallertau Mittelfruh, and bottle conditioned with wild rustic yeast.

Alright, I’ve reached my mental limit. More updates to follow VERY soon.  First, however, sleep.

Cheers!-Ben

 

Winter Is Coming…

…And so is Cosmos!

In celebration of the cold, clear, winter nights soon to arrive, I’ll be brewing “Cosmos: Export Stout” this Monday morning. A big, warm, oatmeal stout brewed to ‘export’ strength, Cosmos is a beer I plan of drinking while stargazing in the White Mountains.  Or, you know, on any cold night I guess.
 Hopefully we should have this, o third beer, out by mid-December.

Here’s a sneak peak of the painting of Cosmos I picked up today from my close friend and artist Liz Jacobs:

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I know!  WOW.  In case you’re unaware, Liz and her brother Jeff are responsible for everything you see when you buy a bottle of Enlightenment Ales. Liz is a local artist working with a variety of media. For each Enlightenment label, I commission Liz to paint an original painting inspired by the concept behind the beer. Once each painting is finished, Jeff incorporates the work into a label and makes everything beautiful.  Not only are they immensely talented, they’re both just awesome people.

Check out Liz’s other work: http://www.makeshifteyes.com/index.html

In other news, Illumination: Farmhouse IPA is selling out! Batch #3 is now on shelves.  Batch #4 was brewed last Thursday and is now just about ready for its first dry-hopping.  You can even find it on tap occasionally at Deep Ellum in Allston, The Independent in Somerville, and the Cambridge Common in Cambridge.  Lord Hobo in Cambridge should have some soon as well.

Woot!

 

Q: “Is this true?”

A: Yes, it’s true: this man has no discipline in updating his brewing blog. 

So, here’s a quick wrap up of everything that’s happened at Enlightenment Ales since May:

-I brewed four batches of Enlightenment Brut and two batches of Mortality, a Belgian-style dark strong ale with black currants.

-Enlightenment Brut was officially released at Deep Ellum in Allston, MA on July 12th!  Woo-hoo!

-Enlightenment Brut is now for sale all around Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville. See our beer-finder for locations.

-We’ve had tastings at Pemberton Farms, Ball Square Fine Wines, and Julio’s Liquors. 

-We poured our beers at the Drink Craft Beer Summerfest.

-I’ve come close to full physical and mental collapse after spending every waking moment of my life making Enlightenment Ales continue to function for the past six months.

-I have planned a three day vacation.

 

Now that you’re caught up with what we’ve been doing here’s what’s coming up:

-I will be brewing a 3 bbl batch of “Illumination”.  After playing with the recipe quite a bit Illumination has become what I’m referring to as a Farmhouse IPA.  Built around the body, malt bill, and yeast profile of a rustic Belgian-style Saison and hopped like an American IPA, this fruity, spicy, and tropical tasting ale will be out just in time to celebrate the end of summer and the bounty of the fall harvest. Bottle conditioned and double dry-hopped with Motueka, Cascade, and Styrian Goldings this odd take on a Belgian-IPA should satisfy even the hop-head lobby. Move over Oktoberfest and Pumpkin Ales, Illumination is coming!

-As you may know our fermenters here at Enlightenment Ales are designed to allow the Belgian-style beers we produce ferment by ‘free-rising’ to very high temperatures.  However, with the prospect of winter approaching I’m working on finalizing and scaling up the recipe of a homebrew favorite of mine.  “Cosmos” a 7.0-7.5% Export Stout with generous amounts of oatmeal will be brewed as soon as this oppressive heatwave ends. My glycol chilling system is not quite up to the task of battling the hottest summer months in recorded American history. So, look for “Cosmos” and its yet-to-be-named imperial barrel-aged big brother on shelves this winter!

 

Lastly we have some very exciting tastings coming up!  If you’re in the area please feel free to join me to drink beer and talk about brewing!

Here’s the current schedule:

8/17 Downtown Wine & Spirits, Somerville, MA, 5:00 pm

8/24 Colonial Spirits, Acton, MA, 5:00 pm

9/1 Charles Street Liquors, Boston, MA, 5:00 pm

 

 

Tacos and Barrels, Strange Bedfellows Indeed…

Despite the fact that nothing has been brewed in the last 2+ weeks here at Enlightenment Ales it’s been pretty damn exciting!

For starters, Todd Alstrom (of Beer Advocate fame) has invited me to participate in Todd’s Taco Takeover at Green Street Tavern. This will be, for all intents and purposes, a super secret sneak preview of Enlightenment Ales.

The event is on May 30th at 5 pm.

$3.99 gets you a taco by Chef Greg Reeves and a glass of Enlightenment Brut. I’ll be there to drink beer, eat tacos, and ramble on ad nauseum about riddling, disgorgement, and dealing with red tape…  So come say HI!  The fun thing about this event is that it will be super limited in scope.  I’m bringing two cases of bottles.  When they run out, I’m out.

Check out more details about the event here on Beer Advocate:

http://beeradvocate.com/events/info/54137

In other Boston Beer Week news Enlightenment Ales has been invited to take part in a collaborative brew for the ACBF.  Brewmaster Will Meyers, my former boss and continuing mentor (although don’t tell him that), has helped plan and organize a collaborative brew between Cambridge Brewing Company and a few new local MA breweries.  Participating will be Mystic Brewery, Idle Hands Craft Ales, Night Shift Brewing, Cambridge Brewing Co. and Enlightenment Ales. I’ll post more details on the brew once we have it knocked out and in the tank!

For now, make sure to check out these other awesome local breweries:

http://www.mystic-brewery.com/

http://www.nightshiftbrewing.com/

http://www.idlehandscraftales.com

http://www.cambridgebrewingcompany.com

Oh, and try their beer!

Alright, now for the news that’s most exciting to me:

As of May 3rd Enlightenment Ales has acquired three used port casks from Sam Adams. These 500 liter bad boys will be used to store and age three very special beers.  The first, “Cosmos”, will be a big, warm, smooth Imperial Stout to be released (hopefully!) some time around the beginning of winter.  While I’m still working on the details it looks like the other two will be “Mortality”, a huge Belgian-style dark ale, and an as-yet-unnamed Brewer’s Reserve expression of Enlightenment Brut.  These will hopefully be used to celebrate our one year anniversary next year!

As usual it’s been a while since I’ve updated the website and a LOT has happened in the meantime.  Here’s a brief overview:

 

I have so far brewed five batches of Enlightenment Brut and one half test batch of Illumination Saison.

The last two batches were brewed in what was, perhaps, the most extreme brewing marathon I’ve ever participated in:

-38 hours of brewing!

-4 full brews!

-490 pounds of grain!

-6 bbls brewed on a 1.5 bbl system

-Dozens of cups of coffee!

-Other measurements as well!

Anyways, as a result of this day and a half of straight brewing I have two batches fermenting away towards final gravity.  Once this is finished I plan on blending the four batches, cold conditioning them for two weeks, and getting them in the bottle.  Enlightenment is on it’s way!

Speaking of bottles, the first test-batch of Enlightenment Brut is finally bottled.  Behold!

The expectant bottles, eagerly awaiting their fate.

Fillin'

Test batch one, in all its glory.

Now they need is to condition and referment in the bottle for two weeks, be placed on the riddling racks and turned 90 degrees every day, cooled down to near freezing temperatures, disgorged, corked, caged, allowed to rest for two weeks, and have labels and foils applied.  That’s all.

Actually, scratch those first few steps, here’s the first test batch on the riddling racks after completing it’s refermentation in the bottle.

360 bottles of Enlightenment Brut on the rack!

So, where did these riddling racks come from you might ask?  How were they constructed?

In perhaps the most impressive display of clueless altruism ever exhibited, a dozen of my close friends converged on the parking lot in from of the brewery to engage in manual labor.  This was the first annual (and hopefully last!) Enlightenment Ales Riddling Rack Barnraising party!

It begins... Jason and Nicole drawing "the grid" on each piece of plywood. This maps out where the holes will be drilled.

Drilling the holes.

Jon Howe, my kin, and a modern incarnation of Rosie the Riveter, hold at work drilling holes.

The foreman surveying the worksite.

The first completed rack and the crew who built it! Thanks SO much to everyone who came out. I owe you all a beer or three.

 

Press. Press! PRESS!

We’ve got press!

Thanks so very much to Anne Vickman of the Boston Magazine’s Chowder Blog for this wonderful write-up about Enlightenment Ales.  Check it out!

http://blogs.bostonmagazine.com/chowder/2012/03/19/meet-enlightenment-ales-bostons-latest-nano-brewery/#more-7771

 

In OTHER news Enlightenment Ales is proud to announce that we will be attending Beer Advocates American Craft Beer Festival at the World Trade Center June 1st and 2nd.

-The GOOD news is we’ll have the opportunity to pour Enlightenment Brut for  thousands (yes THOUSANDS) of craft beer enthusiasts here in the Boston area.

-The BAD news is we’ll be pouring Enlightenment Brut for thousands (yes THOUSANDS) of craft beer enthusiasts here in the Boston area and need to have LOTS of beer to do it!  My back is now against the wall.  We need to have at least twelve cases of Enlightenment Brut ready for June 1st.

Furthermore, in the interest of actually looking like Enlightenment produces more than one beer I need to brew and bottle a second recipe for the fest.  As such this will be the debut of the first test-batch of Illumination, a strong, spicy, hoppy saison that may or may not be conditioned with a touch of Brett. Unlike Enlightenment Brut, our flagship, I have not been brewing and fine tuning this recipe for the last two and a half years.  Stop by our booth and see what happens when Enlightenment Ales shoots from the hip.

Oh, and here’s a few “steamy” photos from brewing the first batch of Enlightenment Brut:

The humble grist in humble buckets. Do not be fooled by the labels on the bags... it's not Canada Two Row!

Knocking out the first batch and pumping it full of O2.

Knockout from the kettle's perspective. Notice the high tech pump mounting device. Spare-no-expense.

Hop-screen gasket that prevents trub and coagulated proteins from the kettle from entering the heat exchanger? Or bizarre chain-mail phallus... You be the judge!

And so it begins…

It’s been a very busy two weeks for Enlightenment Ales.  So busy, in fact, I’m too drained of energy to write a witty post describing it all. Instead I’ll just throw pictures and words at you.  Good luck!

 

Let’s begin with the main event: Enlightenment Ales has officially brewed its first bath of beer on our system at the brewery. After cleaning all of the equipment, scrubbing it down, and pasivating the stainless steel with terribly dangerous phos-nitric acid, I ran a “water batch” test run through the system.  During this process it became immediately apparent that the kettle needed a bit more power behind it and that despite the high quality of water in Lowell an inline cartridge filter was needed. The filter and a barometric draft damper were installed Friday morning by my plumber and his minions.

It was then time to begin brewing. For a test batch I decided to brew something fairly simple, a nice hoppy West-coast style American Pale Ale, “The Awakening.”

The first brew day began at 3:00 pm on Friday…

My first malt order waiting to be used...

The mash! Note the high-tech mash stirring devise. Spare no expense.

The first runnings of wort hanging out in the kettle.

BOIL!

The oh-so-controversial burners hard at work. They remind me of electric blue sunflowers!

…and ended at 1:30 am on Saturday. It’s a hell of a way to spend a Friday night.  Despite the stress and frustration of a million and a half things going wrong I now have a fairly comprehensive list of minor and major adjustments, tweaks, and changes that need to be made to the system and the brewery before the next brew.  If all goes according to plan, which, let’s be honest, it rarely ever does, I should be brewing the first test batch of Enlightenment on Thursday! Stay tuned.

“Renewed shall be the blade that was broken…”

As much as I would love to report that the Enlightenment Ales brew kettle is up and running it looks like we’re still a few days out from firing it up for the first time.

After nearly EIGHT months of discussions with local inspectors, legal negotiations with state officials, several drafts of plans by a Professional Engineer specializing in mechanics and HVAC, extending of the legs, the construction and welding of a stainless steel mounting cage, the purchase of two G3B power burners, and the installation of a 20′ chimney, my kettle is finally hooked up to gas and awaiting permission to be turned on. At this point we’re simply waiting for the electrician to finish wiring the burner controls and for approval from the municipal gas inspector to test fire the kettle. Soon…

My kettle with new feet, burners, and gas piping.

In other news, with the help of my friend and coworker Kyle Shearer, we’ve finished putting the tanks “up on blocks” (which will serve as their temporary stands until I have the funds to have stainless steel ones fabricated), putting together the cooling system for the two bright beer tanks, and constructing a lid for the mash tun complete with a built in spray ball.

My tanks up on blocks. Is there nothing cinder blocks can't do?

Also… The first yeast order from White Labs has been officially placed, 168 cases of champagne bottles have arrived, and the first malt and hop order is on it’s way! It would seem that order is finally beginning to emerge from the chaos…

Oh, and I sent off the Enlightenment Brut labels for TTB approval.  Wish me luck!

TTB Label Application, in duplicate!