Tag Archives: Broken Oak Brewing LLC

Fellowship of the funk

Early in March I assembled the fellowship of funk and ventured forth to the dark summit of Mt. Doom and cast  “clean” and “safe” brewing practices into its fiery chasm.  I was lucky enough to secure a couple of vials of East Coast Yeast’s (http://eastcoastyeast.com/) BugFarm or for short, ECY01.  East Coast Yeast is a fairly small producer of yeast and generally Al, the owner/yeast wrangler, doesn’t have the time or facilities to keep up with the demand from homebrewers.  I’ve had success getting some ECY01 by joining and e-mail list and waiting to see when there is yeast available and then trying to be one of the first few people to respond with what they want.  ECY01 and some of the other sour/wild blends that Al puts out have the reputation of creating some of the most complex and delicious sour ales achievable on a homebrewing scale.

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The blend contains a handful of different species of Brettanomyces, lactobaccilus and pediococcus.  Brettanomyces is commonly referred to as wild yeast because it is often found naturally on the skins of fruit.  Brettanomyces aka brett can create a wide range of flavors some of the favorable and many of them not. In the wine world brett can be a real problem because of the off flavors it produces in wine and its ability to survive normal cleaning and sanitizing procedures.  Lactobaccilus and pediococcus are both two different strains of bacteria that produce lactic acid. Lacto and pedio are responsible for the majority of the sourness produced in sour ales.  Additionally lacto and pedio both can take a long time to really develop acidity and are some of the reasons that sour beers take much longer than normal beer to produce.

I was shooting for crafting a traditional lambic with hopes of aging a portion on some yet undetermined fruit and continue aging  another portion for use in blending with another sour beer in the future.  There are a lot of literature online and published on what your grain bill should be and how you should mash your grains to get the best wort for lambic production.  Through it all most people agree that you wan a simple grist composed of pilsner malt and wheat.  Also you want a fairly dextrinous (wort full of complex long chain sugars) so your brett and bacteria have things to work on after most of the simple sugars are used up in the first few weeks of fermentation.  I decided to keep things simple for my first attempt, my grain bill was:

  • 58% French Pilsner
  • 37% white wheat malt
  • 5% acid malt

I mashed high at 158 degrees Fahrenheit to help create a dextrinous and generally had a pretty uneventful brew day.  Traditionally aged hops are used as they still provide some preservative effects and flavor contribution to the beer but not so much so as to inhibit the beneficial bacteria.  I didn’t have any aged hops but I had some crystal hops that were hanging out in the back of my freezer that are very low alpha acid hops so I used two ounces of crystal hops in the beginning of the 90 minute boil for 14 theoretical IBUs.

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After the 90 min boil I cooled and transferred close to 7 gallons of wort to my fermenter.  If I was a more daring soul I would rig up some sort of coolship to transfer the hot wort to and let it cool overnight and expose it to the natural microflora of my back yard but maybe next time!

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Overall the day went really well and I hit my original gravity of 1.048.  My plan for this beer going forward is to pretty much leave it be for the next year or so and then I would like to transfer a portion to age on some yet to be determined fruit, bottle some straight and continue aging another portion for blending with another batch I hope to get going soon as I was able to procure 2 more vials of ECY01!

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During my last-ish visit to Broken Oak Brewing (sounds cooler than saying my parents’ house) I took some pictures to share some of the motivations behind the name.  So while this isn’t THE stump at the end of the drive way its an oak tree that fell down a couple of years ago.

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You can also see some shots of the barn in the background.  The barn itself is pretty massive.  The barn is T shaped and we affectionately call the two different sections the yellow barn and the blue barn based on the color of the walls. The section closest in the the pictures is the blue barn and it is 100ft long and 50 ft wide.  The yellow barn is 85ft long and 35ft wide… I think.  Please forgive my poor photo editing skills but here is a Google maps overhead of the area.

google_overheadIn addition to the blue and yellow barn sections there are two rooms attached to the yellow barn.  The current plan is to have the brewery located in the yellow barn and have the tap room and seating in the front two rooms.  Below are a couple of pictures inside the front two rooms where we are currently ferment/aging wine.

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The room has both an outside door and a large door leading into the yellow barn.  Inside the barn there are  trenches running throughout the whole barn so adding floor drains for the brewery shouldn’t be too much of a hassle. IMAG1872The only downside of the barn is the low ceiling height.  If/when Broken Oak expands ceiling height will be a limiting factor on the size of brewing equipment that could be installed.  The ample square footage does have lots of room for other possible projects I’d like to implement.  Someday I’d like to have space setup for processing farm grown hops, malting farm grown grains and other things grown on the property!  If anyone has an creative suggestions, ideas or questions please e-mail/Facebook/comment or whatever is easiest for you. If my poor ms paint editing skills are any indication any graphical suggestions would be much appreciated.

First steps

Thank you everyone who has been following along and the kind words and support you’ve already offered!  I thought I would try to elaborate a little on what my initial timeline is looking like.  Also I am happy to report that I’ve filled articles of organization for Broken Oak Brewing LLC and have registered with the IRS for an Employer Identification Number!!  Having an EIN allows me to do fun things like pay taxes and open a bank account!

The next step toward being able to sell beer is working towards getting approval through the Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).  Getting approval through the TTB requires compliance with of lots of different regulations regarding the physical structure where you are planning to have the brewery, environmental impact and how you are going safeguard your beer for proper taxation.  Part of submitting for a license is having complete plans for the layout of your brewery, including the equipment you going to use.

After submitting the paperwork to the TTB you then have to wait to hear if you are approved which is on average a 90 day waiting period.  It seems that there is a wide range of experiences with the TTB both good and bad so cross your fingers that when the time comes I end up having a positive experience with the TTB agent.

Once paperwork has been submitted to the TTB I will also file to get approval through the Oregon Liquor Control Commission which carries its own specific requirements.  Currently the plan is to file as a brew pub because in Oregon this allows you to self distribute beer as well as sell beer on premise for consumption regardless if you are actually planning on serving food or not.  Oregon is one of a handful of other states with reasonable regulations where this is possible which is another reason why the nano industry is so successful here.

In addition to both the TTB and the OLCC to open a brewery you also have to file with the Food and Drug Administration.  Filing with the FDA is pretty straight forward and free (yay!) but its another hoop to jump through. The TTB and the OLCC both collect excise tax on any finished beer that is sold so even after getting approval through both agencies they will be actively involved during the life of the brewery.

After the these steps are complete then it will finally be legal to brew beer commercially.  Add a couple of months after this for to have beer ready for drinking then bring on the grand opening!  Looking at it all seems daunting and figuring out all of the specifics needed to make everyone happy is headache inducing but in the end it will be well worth it.

As far as when all this will get accomplished is hard to pin down.  Our immediate goals are to figure what we are going to need to do to the barn to get it up to code for brewing. We are going to reach out to local OLCC officials and the county planning office to see advice and information they might be able to provide.  Some other major obstacles we’ll have to overcome is the lack of water and sewer available to the barn and bringing the electrical up to code.  Ideally while we are working on improving the barn we’ll keep an eye for used brewing and restaurant equipment that we can pick up.