On October 24 I finally tapped the kegs of Fort Dummer and Shareholder’s Saison at Ales for ALS in Essex. I also brought two 12-packs of bottles from the last batch of Curly’s Milk Stout. I’ll have more detailed tasting notes on all three of those brews down the line. For now I will say that I was happy with all three.
I still bottle almost all of my beers. Last year I purchased four 3-gallon kegs and a CO2 tank. I haven’t used them that much because I still don’t have a kegerator at home to keep the kegs cold. For this event I purchased a “jockey box” while Northern Brewer was offering 20% off of a single item.
The device is relatively simple. There is an 18′ coil inside the metal plate at the bottom of the cooler. The plate is covered with ice which cools the beer as it passes through the plate, and the cooler makes sure the ice doesn’t melt too quickly. The day of the event everything worked perfectly. My kegs were probably room temperature, but the beer was ice cold as it came out of the taps.
Not having a kegerator makes it hard to force carbonate beers with a CO2 tank. At colder temperatures the beer will absorb more CO2. Not wanting to use up a bunch of gas to carbonate at room temperature, I kegged conditioned with corn sugar 12 days before the event. The carbonation of the beers was a little lighter than I would have liked, but was sufficient. As long as I didn’t show up with infected beer, I wasn’t overly concerned.
There were two prizes at the event. There were a panel of judges, and a people’s choice award. Both of the beers that won were excellent. Jake Rogers’ Flanders Red that won the people’s choice award was excellent. He is an excellent brewer we will be hearing more from in the months and years ahead. I have four empty glass carboys at home. I need to get into sour beer brewing and put those to use.
I submitted Curly’s Milk Stout as my competition beer. I knew it was good so I was more comfortable entering it in a competition like this as opposed to two first-time brews. I glanced at the voting during the event. Although my beer didn’t win, it did have a respectable showing. One attendee who is a brewer compared the beer to a Grateful Dead song in that there was a lot going on in the beer, but it all works.
The food was excellent. I am trying to limit my intake of grains to the liquid form, but I did cave and have some of the Iggy’s bread. The people were really nice. Pete Frates’ uncle thanked us and appreciated that I was wearing my Team Frate Train “Strike Out ALS” shirt. The attendees ran the gamut from brewers and beer geeks to people who had no idea what a milk stout or a saison was. The responses to our beers was almost universally positive.
We helped raise money for a great cause. The new beers came out excellent. We didn’t run out of any beer which was my other worry. It was a great time and I look forward to participating again next year.