Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Bayou Teche Brewing at Gulf Brew

Gulf Brew is the annual beer tasting event held in downtown Lafayette that raises money for the Acadian Center for the Arts. They are a wonderful organization that runs a popular local museum dedicated to the area’s art, as well as programs that promote the arts in Lafayette. We were asked to provide a couple of kegs of our LA-31 Biere Pale for the event’s VIP tent.

We have two artists working with our brewery who often show in Lafayette, so how could we turn the ACA down?

The invitation to supply the biere gave us just over a month to brew, ferment, age and package our biere.

It put us on a pretty tight schedule.

Things always seem to go wrong when you are on a tight schedule.

Fortunately we had most of the raw ingredients we needed to produce a batch of our flagship ale. I had been planning to replenish our yeast supply so I took this opportunity and placed an order for an overnight shipment – confirming with the supplier we use that they had the yeast in stock. Somewhere between my placing the order and their filling the order their computers crashed.

Of course I did not know of the snafu until the next day when we did not receive our order.

This was late Friday afternoon, meaning the order could not be shipped until Monday, arriving in Arnaudville on Tuesday.

A five day delay – A very tight schedule now but still doable.

The yeast arrived late Tuesday afternoon and then we brewed up 1 barrel (31 gallons) of Biere Pale. Man it was great, finally being able to brew up a batch alongside my brother. And fortunately the brew day went by without a single hitch. The wort was racked to the fermenter and we pitched the newly arrived yeast. Our ale takes about two weeks in the fermenter, so I had a little time to do maintenance around the brewery.

Right off the bat I accidentally demolished a CO2 regulator. I called our regular supplier and tried to order an emergency replacement.

Back ordered.

I scrambled to find one, finally stumbling on one locally a week later.

We transferred the contents of the fermenters to our cold storage tanks, to carbonate and further clear and age the biere.

I attached a full tank of CO2 to the new regulator, opened the valve and called it quits for the day. Inspecting the tanks the next day, I noticed I had forgotten to tighten the regulator to the tank, in the process emptying a CO2 tank in to the atmosphere, inadvertently enlarging my carbon footprint. Yep.

So I drove to Lafayette and filled the tank. When I got back I hooked everything up, making sure this time to tighten the regulator tight-tight.

Still with all of the snafus, setbacks and cussing, we had just enough time to sample and get our LA-31 into the kegs before the Gulf Brew.

We set up Saturday without a single hitch. The volunteers and employees of ACA were groovy and helpful.

While waiting for the doors to open, we visited with the guys from the Dead Yeast Society (Lafayette’s home brew club). Those guys really know their beer and had the most awesome setup! They also had very tasty beers (including one gallon of a vanilla-bourbon infused beer that could only be compared to a liquid praline). We are going to have to spend more of our free time hanging out with and picking those fellows’ brains.

We also visited with the folks from NOLA brewery (New Orleans) and from Lazy Magnolia brewery (Mississippi). Both breweries have given us so much advice, encouragement and compliments on our beer. I don’t think we can ever hope to return the favors in full. We do plan on making a trip very soon to visit both of their breweries, as well as to the Heiner Brau in Covington.

Damn their beers are good!

Then the doors opened and it was non-stop until closing. We were flooded with request from Lafayette’s most passionate beer drinkers for a taste of our biere. I know we had come close to perfection of our LA-31 recipe when so many people took a taste and requested a second or third glass before giving up their place in line. We had a large number of tasters come back with their own, larger cup for savoring.

I know we met, visited and served at least 250 people, because that is how many of our koozies and business cards we gave out (note to self, order more Koozies). We got to share our vision of our brewery, and the values and importance of paring good, real beer as an accompaniment to our Cajun and Creole cuisine.

We had a great time, drank a lot of outstanding beer and we met so many people who shared our vision of what great beer can do for our culture.

I hear that the ACA sold nearly 2500 tickets and raised beaucoup money for their organization. The folks at our fledgling brewery and also those involved in the art scene in Lafayette thank them for all they do and eagerly await next year’s event. If you can’t wait that long, we will be serving samples of our biere at Arnaudville’s Oktoberfest on September 26th, and at the Jefferson Community hospital’s Beer Tasting event on October 16th.

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