First batch brewed at new Athens brewery
A rattle two years in the making finally echoed through Creature Comforts Brewing Company on Monday afternoon.
A mill crushed grain. Pipes shook. Hot water hissed.
Making beer is a loud business; the operation has many moving parts. So the two brewmasters charged with delivering the company’s first batch of beer were cautiously optimistic as their downtown brewery finally revved up.
Electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems all have to operate “in concert,” said co-brewmaster Adam Beauchamp. And not one piece in Creature Comforts’ brew system had been tested before Monday. When Beauchamp fired up the brewery’s industrial water heater — “a giant fire-burning machine” — it made him a little nervous.
“The first time you do it for real, you never really know what’s going to happen,” Beauchamp said.
A few hiccups marred the early process: Timing how fast wheat and malted barley was sent through a mill, mixed with water and set to mash in a lauter tun, needed a few tweaks.
But soon the warm scent of malt and wheat berries filled the room, overtaking any apprehension.
It’ll be three weeks before any Creature Comforts beer can be tasted, but Beauchamp and David Stein, both brewmasters and co-founders, plan on having beer ready for the Classic City Brew Fest on April 13, and have beer in the market by Twilight weekend, April 25-26.
The first “mashing in” session Monday will produce the company’s first brew – an India Pale Ale expected to be call Tropicalia for its citrus notes. The name is also a reference to one of Stein’s favorite musical movements, a Brazilian avant-garde art movement in the 1960s that embraced psychedelia.
“To me, it’s the perfect name,” Stein said.
Tropicalia was a movement seeping with curiosity, he said, and Creature Comforts’ brand mission is to “crave curiosity.”
“Everything we do is under the umbrella of curiosity,” Stein said.
Three types of hops — Citra, Galaxy and Centennial — give the beer an effervescent tangerine or passion fruit flavor, Stein said. Like most American IPAs, Tropicalia will be dry-hopped, meaning the flavors imparted by the hop trio is drawn out later during fermentation. Not too bitter, Tropicalia favors aroma and flavor over bitterness, Stein said.
Beauchamp said they’ve got a few more brews to start, and even finalize those beers’ names before the brew fest.
“This starts the clock,” Beauchamp said of the first batch.