Craft brewing has taken the country by storm over the past few years. Every city seems to have one or more of these local places and now it seems to have leveled off and the cream has risen to the top. Each brewery will generally make the signature craft brews – an IPA, a warm weather lager, and a wheat. What makes each of these places unique is their ability to all be different with their staple flagship beers and their seasonal and one-offs.
JDub’s brewery is located at 1215 Mango Avenue in Sarasota, FL. Their brewery consists of a 15 barrel brewhouse, six 30 barrel and two 60 barrel fermenters. They also have a 3 barrel “pilot system” with two 3 barrel fermenters and one 7 barrel fermenter, that we use to create new recipes and satisfy our creative curiosity in the taproom. This is where we come in….
Together with Jdub’s, the Old Salty Dog team brainstormed (and drank a little) and came up with the idea to brew a special beer exclusively for The Old Salty Dog restaurants. Wanting to brew a beer that was still simple enough for the the good ol’ boy crowd but still crafty enough for the skinny jeans crowd, we decided on a light blonde ale. With owner Phil Needs as inspiration, we drew upon his nickname and thus Needlefish Blonde Ale was born…or at least conceived.
Brew day! On March 3rd, we set out to JDub’s to conquer the art of brewing…or at least give it a try and hope for the best! After going over the process with our brewmaster Evan, we started filling our tanks with the goal of getting it to 165 degrees so that we could mash in. All of the water used at Jdubs is filtered and using different chemicals (the good ones that naturally occur in water in different regions) we were able to mimic the water needed to brew our beer to the right salinity and acidic levels.
We added in our malts and grains and begin to make our mash (beer making terminology for the mixture of grains & water). We do this to extract the natural sugars from the grains which is the basis for our beer. Different beers=different grains and different ratios of grains to water.
You continually stir the mash mixture to keep as much surface area exposed to the water as you can to extract the most sugars. At this point in the process it looks like you’re making a big ol’ batch of oatmeal!
After mashing in for a bit, we sparged the grist. You like all these fun terms! We brewed a simple beer, I’ll put it into simpler terms for us – after soaking the grains in the warm water, we drained out the liquid (the wort) and sprayed the remaining soaked grains (grist) with water to rinse and extract as much of the remaining sugars as we could get (sparging). How’d I do???
From here we let the master take over a bit, Evan used another tank and lots of hoses and cool swively clamps to pump out the wort and strain it into the kettle. We went and enjoyed a beer in the tap room!
When Evan was finished transferring over the wort and adding in enough water to meet criteria for the boil, we started the process. At different intervals we added in our hops, an herb added during boil or fermentation to impart aromatic flavors. We used a combination of hops with the most dominant being Palisades.
From here it was done for our part and up to mother nature and Danny Devito to make the magic happen. Fermentation process took about 3 weeks and now our beer is ready to serve beginning April 1st, and it aint no joke! We’ll see you soon for a pint of Needlefish Blonde Ale at all of our locations while supplies last!