Farm Dinner, success!

The Dinner On The Farm event at Featherstone was yesterday, the first day of Autumn. It was an amazingly gorgeous day. Cool, clear, and crisp, perfect for an outdoor gathering filled with some of our area’s finest local fare. I’d say it was a success! I had a ton of fun serving folks, and got some wonderful feedback and encouragement. What a fantastic way to usher in fall!

I spent two months brewing up 12 kegs worth of beer. Not really knowing who would be coming, I decided to just do what I normally do and brew a couple of straight up hoppy beers. Equinox was a no-brainer, since it’s a pretty wild IPA, and the event itself was on the Equinox. SESH was also a natural choice, since it’s just a fun beer to make and drink. The Dust Devil was intended for those that were a little less adventurous in their beer drinking, though some may argue that brewing a commercially extinct style is a bit adventurous in its own right.

I probably was set to go at that point, but I thought I’d add one more just for good measure. “The Dark” is a 5.1% ABV Black Ale, somewhat a slimmed down version of “Duskadelic”, this year’s black IPA. Something about the onset of cooler weather makes me just crazy about black beers with tons of hops in them. Brewed it up, and I was set for quantity (hopefully?!) and variety.

The fine folks at Featherstone were kind enough to let me store the finished kegs in their giant cooler. I had a pallet in the corner where I set up the kegs and my large co2 tank with the homemade gas distribution system. They even wrapped the pallet and brought it out to the dinner site for me, which saved much stress and back strain.
Here’s what sat in the corner of their cooler sharing space with some lovely veggies:

Once everything was made, conditioned, and carbonated, I worked up some info sheets for each beer. I assumed that some folks were beer-savvy, so this would work as sort of a menu as well as a more detailed description of what each beer was. Here’s what I made for that (click to enlarge):

I wanted this to all look good, as well as taste good. My thought being, if it’s just one person doing all this, I didn’t want to come off like it was just some backyard swill I hacked together. I printed out some stickers advertising our local homebrew club, filled some jars with ingredients for people to play around with, and I was set up with an extra table, tablecloths, and even a canopy! I loaded in and set up!

Got all 12 kegs set up and out of the way! I decided to use picnic taps, since I had them on hand and they’re pretty easy to use.

In all the excitement, the first few pours of each were predictably foamy and cloudy, though this quickly settled down. Here’s a cloudy Equinox. Once guests started filling in, the beer flowed free and clear. Monica had these sweet jars set up with their logo on them for people to use and keep as a souvenir. Loved this!

And this is me, happily pouring beers for thirsty guests.

Thankfully, there were no major problems. I spent a lot of time thinking this out, and how I would make it work with just one person. I even had a helper for pouring, which made serving a piece of cake. People really seemed to like the beer I made! For every person that just wanted “whatever tastes least like beer”, there was someone who came up and wanted more Equinox, or wondered what was in The Dark to give it that citrusy finish (it was Centennial hops, swimming in their bag in each keg). I got tons of great comments, and it was pretty fun to try and explain to people that I’m just one person that does this in my home. I even had someone offer to buy a keg on the spot (I graciously declined). Folks were really into it, and I was pleased with that.

The most popular beer of the night? Dust Devil. It’s low alcohol and low hopping made it very approachable for non-beer geek crowd. It was followed closely by Equinox. People love their 7% dank IPAs. I know I do! The Dark was the one that people stayed away from the most, but those that tried it loved it. It had its own small cult following, which I thought was great. I didn’t even use half the beer I brought, mostly due to the fact that people started clearing out quickly once the sun set and started bringing in a truly beautiful evening. But I still felt great, knowing that folks enjoyed their beer and that I got to serve them. It’s a very humbling and empowering thing for me.

I’d like to thank Monica and her amazing crew for giving me the opportunity to do this, and for keeping everything running smoothly throughout the night. Check our her website and Facebook page to keep up with all of the great events they put on. Highly recommended!
Thanks also to Greta for recommending me to work this event, and to her and everyone else at Featherstone for allowing me to use your space for keeping the goods ready.  If you need a CSA, you’d be hard pressed to find better veggies. Thanks also to my friends at Boat House for a lovely meal. You guys do great work. And thanks to the Beet Root Stew gang for the great tunes. And importantly, thanks to my wife and babies for allowing me to take the time needed to get this done right! Fun!



CPB is heading to Dinner On The Farm!

One of my favorite parts of homebrewing is sharing the beer that I make. Whether it’s having a couple of friends over for a basement or backyard tasting session, or bringing a keg to a party or gathering, it’s always fun (and a little nail-bitingly nervous) to share my creations with friends and strangers alike. I’ve always brewed more than I can personally consume, so it also helps keep things moving.

So when Greta from Featherstone Farm in Rushford emailed me and asked if I’d be interested in brewing for a farm dinner event there, I got over my initial anxiety about brewing enough beer for 150 people and humbly, but excitedly said “yes!”.

For those that don’t know about Dinner On The Farm, it’s a great idea: their mission is to “connect people to where their food comes from, the people who grow and nurture it and the chefs and restaurants that support the local food system.” They specialize in unique dining adventures, emphatically supporting local farms.  They do a monthly “traveling farm dinner”, where each event is held on a local farm, featuring food from local farms, restaurants, musicians, and breweries. You can click the link to learn more about the great, one-of-a-kind events that Monica and her crew put on. Great stuff!

I’ll be taking part in September’s farm dinner (which is sold out!), alongside my friends at Boat House, and the fun sounds of Beet Root Stew.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been brewing up a storm for this fun event. My plan is to serve four different beers, and three are already brewed. I was given the green light to brew whatever I wanted, so my idea was to brew stuff that’s true to what I love, as well as beers that will pair well with a laid-back, outdoor dining experience.  Here’s what I’ve done so far:

Equinox- A hefty 7% ABV India Pale Ale brewed with wheat, and utilizing five different hops: Columbus, Amarillo, Simcoe, Mosaic, and El Dorado. A dryer, west coast-style IPA with a lot of nose, and a hefty kick.

SESH- My ‘house’ beer. SESH is a 4% American Pale Ale, low on IBU and gravity, but the Cascade and Simcoe hops added dry give it a lift. Kegs of this have been brought to a couple of events and have been drained very quickly. Always a joy to brew (and enjoy) this one.

Dust Devil- This one is interesting. I was thinking of making a Cream Ale (something Spotted Cow-like), as it’s a great outdoor session beer. In reading about them, I came across Kentucky Common. This style was popular in the pre-prohibition era in Kentucky, and features barley, rye, and corn. It’s basically a slimmed down bourbon grain bill, but lightly hopped and served fresh. Commercially, it’s all but extinct, though there are a few that have been made. It’s a brown ale, and mine is expected to come in around 4% ABV.

I still plan on brewing one more, and will probably get that in order this week, and will likely brew it within the next two weeks. It’s been a lot of fun to knock out a bunch of larger batches. I’m still working out a few logistical aspects regarding serving, but for the most part, it’s pretty much all sorted out.

I’m looking forward to serving these to folks and getting their feedback, as well as taking part in such a fantastic opportunity, which I am very grateful for!