Yet another new beer! On Wednesday we'll be tapping Batch 100 Imperial Oatmeal Porter with Vanilla Beans (9.8% ABV). This was one of our easier naming sessions, as you can imagine. The beer was brewed on our 5 barrel pilot system with a helping hand from our 30 barrel big boy brewing system. Earlier in the year, Jonathan quickly figured out that brewing high-ABV beers on the 5 barrel system was tough due to the size of the mash/lauter tun. The amount of grain needed to produce enough sugar for the yeast (in the case of Batch 100, 950+ pounds) required at least two separate mashes, which was adding an additional 3-4 hours to the overall brew day.
The solution has turned out to be using the 30 barrel mash/lauter tun for the first step of the brewing process. The grain is milled as normal and then transferred to the 30 barrel mash/lauter tun through an auger pipe. Once the mashing and lautering process is complete, the wort is then transferred to the 5 barrel kettle for boiling. The Batch 100 recipe calls for 4 specialty malts and flaked oats in addition to the base malt that we use in the majority of our beers. Chocolate malt is one of the speciality malts - it provides most of the color and a lot of the classic Porter flavor you will taste in the beer.
When fermentation was almost complete, Jonathan prepared 41 Madagascar Vanilla Beans and dropped them into the fermentation vessel. Why 41 beans? Because we can only purchase them in quantities of 16 or 25! After 3 days of conditioning, the rich vanilla flavors we were hoping for were evident and the beans were removed. From there, the beer was cold conditioned, carbonated, and packaged into kegs. Now it's ready for the taproom!
The first mash in at The Virginia Beer Company (which was Single Hop Sessions - Mosaic) took place on January 24, 2016. Those of you who have been with us since the beginning will probably remember that opening day beer! Batch 100 was brewed on December 21, 2016. One hundred batches in 333 days - not too shabby for our first calendar year. All told, we brewed 57 unique beers in 2016. Five of those beers are still biding their time in various barrels, waiting for a 2017 release. That is a new beer for the taproom about every seven days or so following the opening day lineup we had available on March 26, 2016! Besides our four year-round beers, there were only five beers that were brewed twice (Citra Pale Ale, Deadbolt Double IPA, Saison Tournante - Rye & Amarillo, Green's View IPA, and Rob Your Head Imperial Red). Others may return in the future...we're excited to share those old friends as well as many, many new beers in 2017!