This past spring, Stone Corral Brewery had the distinct honor to sponsor three categories in the 2019 Greg Noonan Memorial Home-Brew Competition. Our team selected one winner from the European Pale Lager, German-Style Wheat Ale and Belgian/French Strong Ale categories to earn the Corral Cup award and the opportunity to brew the winning recipe at a commercial scale at Stone Corral to be placed on tap for the good patrons to imbibe. This year, it was our pleasure to award Rob Friesel the Corral Cup title for his Le Rousse, a Bière de Garde.
Click here for full details on Rob’s winning home-brew.
We asked Rob, what was your interpretation brewing on our full-scale commercial system?
“I believe my words to Ryan were: “Not that different from homebrewing — except bigger equipment, a little more automation, and a whole lot more buckets. That said, it definitely exceeded my expectations and I had a ton of fun.”
“Ryan was great in helping me get oriented to the brewhouse and talking me through the equipment and how everything was plumbed. Amazingly crushing 50 times the amount of grain (compared to my typical batch size at home) really didn’t take that much longer. And I guess that was my first taste of what scaling up felt like in a lot of ways — and also one of the more interesting revelations: that most of the steps (like the mash rests and boil times) are pretty much the same as what I do in my garage. Some of the in-between steps take a little longer — like pumping 15 barrels worth of wort from the mash tun to the boil kettle vs. my brew-in-a-bag setup where I just get the flame going again. At the end of the brew day though, I felt like we made the wort we set out to make and now we just need to wait for the yeast to do the rest.”
“I’ve heard the joke before about how 90% of brewing is cleaning stuff up and … that certainly seemed to be true. At least cleaning a professional brewhouse has a lot more automation than my home rig.
And lastly, I really wasn’t prepared for just how HOT it was going to get in there — especially on the brew deck. Of course, when I told this to Ryan and Bret, they both just laughed and said: “And it wasn’t even all that hot today.”
Rob recalls the brew day
“I got in around 9am and Ryan immediately put me to work milling the grain. 660 lb. later he was giving me the introduction to the control panel and we started mashing in and getting the brewing salts mixed in. (It was cool seeing the auger in action to get the grains into the tun.) A few minutes into the mash we took our first sample to get the pH — right on at 5.2. And while we waited for the mash rest to finish up, we started weighing out the hops and yeast nutrients, etc. Somewhere in here Ryan handed me a tri-clamp fitting and started my education on working those. From there we got into the Vorlauf and the lauter — 20 ºPlato for first runnings, 15.2 ºPlato for pre-boil gravity. Then while we waited for the boil kettle to come up to temp, I got acquainted with the fine art of raking out the mash tun. Once we had our boil and the first hop addition was added there wasn’t much to do for a while so… hey, a good time for a couple of tacos. Wrapped up lunch in time to get the fining agents, yeast nutrient, Belgian candi sugar, and the last hop addition into the kettle. Once we’d whirlpooled for a few minutes, we started running the wort through the heat exchanger and pumping it into the sanitized fermenter. Original gravity 17.3 ºPlato. Pitched a nice healthy slurry of yeast and clean-up was pretty much on cruise control after that.”
Who is Rob Friesel?
Rob Friesel, who was a mere one point shy of a three-way tie for Vermont Homebrewer of the Year, lives in Essex Junction with his family. Originally from D.C., Rob and his wife moved to Vermont in 2002. By day, Rob is a software guru and is happiest when he is at home brewing a tasty beer. Rob has been homebrewing since 2014 and has been a member of the Green Mountain Mashers for the past 2 years.
Rob shared that in college he had, “friends that had studied abroad (though I never did) and came home with stories of interesting beers they had in the other countries. That was my first real glimpse into beers that weren’t just pale and fizzy and flavorless. Then, when I moved up to Vermont, I started to explore what the local scene had to offer… Craft beer was definitely my gateway into homebrewing. I’m curious by nature and I want to know what makes things tick. Drinking some beer was all fine and good, but I wanted to get down into the details and the only way to do that was to try and make some. I was hooked after the first batch.”
We love Rob’s Le Rousse and are thrilled to share this beer with Stone Corral’s loyal patrons. Rob describes his winning beverage as a traditional, artisanal, amber Bière de Garde. It’s a malt-forward beer with some notes of toffee, caramel, and toasted bread with some light fruity hints of dried raisins or cherries. Clocking in at 7.2% ABV, this beer will be on tap exclusively at Stone Corral in Richmond, VT in late-July.
Click here to read Rob’s personal blog and keep up to date with his adventures and misadventures in home brewing.