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We Brew To Escape!
Our club meets at 7:30pm the second Tuesday of every month at a members house. For the next meeting location contact the Club Secretary, Phil Wilcox at Thepfhb@comcast.net he will gladly point any non-BATF employees to the next meeting. ;<)
This clubs history clearly starts at one place, the Jackson Brewing Company. Matt Allyn, the head brewer, had been discussing forming a homebrew club with every Tom, Doris, and Homebrewer who came into the pub since opening. Many people were excited by this, but it wasn't until he introduced Phil Wilcox to Dave Dahl that things started to happen. Dave was recently retired, Phil was a Graphics Designer--Time had met up with resources and created opportunity. Flyers were printed, mailing lists gathered, letters were sent and on May 6th, 1997 a group of 14 homebrewers gathered at the Jackson Brewing Company and held an organizational meeting.
At the July meeting infomal elections were held. Dave Dahl was elected President. Blair Bearinger was elected Vice-President. Phil Wilcox was elected Secretart/Treasurer. By the June meeting we had kicked around enough ideas for a name that it was time for a vote. Proprietors of Unconstitutional Breweries (PUB), Jack Town Brewers, FORD II - Jackson Plant, and JACKSON=Jackson Association of Crazy Krauseners Sampling Odoriferous Nectars were among the names voted on. Dispite those of us who didn't wish to advertise the fact that the worlds largest walled prison was 4 miles from the pub, The Prison City Brewers was the name voted in by the 20 people gathered there that night.
Oktoberfest at the pub was our first event. We planned to do demonstration brews outside the tent to boost awareness of the club and help publicise the craft of homebrewing. 35 gallons of homebrew were brewed over 4 days. The Scotch Ale was deemed sale-able and was sold on hand pump during Christmas. The Pumpkin Ale was even better but Harry and Phil weren't giving any of it up! Nut Brown Ale and a Pilsner Lager were the other beers brewed. It was a good event and those few who participated had a great time. All kinds of people had all kinds of questions about what we were doing. My personal favorite was, and I do quote, "Is it hot when you boil it?" More participation for next year is a must. Some how I don't think that will be a problem!
Big Brew '98
Site #28 in Jackson was a blast! Five of us from the Prison City Brewers participated. The 6th couldn't make it. We started out by setting up our equipment and measuring out ingredients like Frank and Dave are seen doing in this picture.
At exactly 2:00 PM Standard Time Lona shouted out "Gentleman, Start Your Burners!" And we did! Then we scurried back into the brewery to continue searching for the elusive crystal malt. It was found and crushed along with the other malts donated by the Jackson Brewing Company. Thanks Matt, Doug & Dougie! (Craig and Fred at ThingsBeer did us well also.) We purchased all the ingredients in bulk which gave us a bulk discount, and they gave us an additional 15% off from there. And since we are a non-profit club--No Taxes, an additional 6% savings! It came down to $20.80 for the extract brewers and under $5 bucks for the All-grainers! Now that is cheap for a 1.096 Beer!
We had a lot of fun! We all learned a lot. Some of us used grains for the first time! Others learned about the trade off's of 10 minute sparging. And we all learned a little more about each other. We had a great time! We sold some T-shirts for a club fund-raiser and picked up 6 new people as potential members! I did my best not to cringe in horror as I watched the extract brewers using funnels and cheese cloths to try to strain out their hops and spooge. I felt bad and helpless since my 6-gal easy-masher pot was at home...I didn't even have a copper scrubby to put over my copper racking cane which I also didn't have... It was Prom night for a couple of area schools and it was especially fun watching all the kids coming and going all decked out in tux's and long dresses. One comment seemed to reach agreement. Girls didn't look like that when we went to Prom...
The all-grainers finished up by 8:30 and we pitched 2 cups/5 gal of fresh yeast from the brewery and then headed inside the pub for Pizza and Beer! A Raspberry Lager, American Wheat, and a Bob Lite were the 6th handles. A great time was had by all.
Well, Rob Moline warned us that a raging fermentation was to be expected....and the Nottingham we tapped out of tank #5 was fresh and hungry. By the time we got back to our vehicles, fermentation was IN PROGRESS!!! Those that were driving home towards Battle Creek were mighty nervous about not having blowoff tubes in the car with them!
As for my carboys: At 4:00 AM I awoke hearing a POP! I immediately went, Oh S)(*&T! In my exhaustion of unloading the brewery from my dads van at Midnight--by myself--I barely had enough strength to carry my 6.5 and 5 gal fermentor's to the basement. I had left them there in the brewery corner just sitting on the floor with their S-shaped airlocks still in place. I got to the basement light switch squinting, not only from the time of day, but from what I expected see...I turned the light on and burst out laughing!!! The Pop noise that woke me must have been something else because both airlocks were still in place. But, (there's always a but) the S-shaped airlock's cap had blown off and a 3 inch geyser of foam was expelling from it! It was like Gillette came out with a beige shaving cream!
I sanitized an orange blow off widget, and got out a pair of clamps and my gallon jug.. The 6.5 gal one looked ok, so I left it and crept back to bed. I slept right through my Alarm for church in the morning...I awoke with another jolt, realizing this time I'd have to creep into the choir loft late...I went to the basement to iron my shirt and sure enough, as timely as Old Faithful, the 6.5 Gal Carboy was erupting a continuous stream of creamy smooth foam! I laughed as I glanced at my watch while trying not to burn my shirt...It would be there when I got back from church... And it was, by this time I'd had some coffee. The brain was working and it said to get the digital camera out. It took me a while before I figured I could stuff my racking cane in the stopper and use that. I have about a half gallon of recondensed foam now and the eruptions continue! Patience, Patience, Patience. At the next club meeting our host told us he left his carboy in the truck overnight, well lets just say truck cielings are lower than basement cielings...and thankfully clean up easier too!
At 10 days my hydrometer read 1.027 I think its time to rack and pitch champagne yeast, my plan was too proof it just like any other dry yeast. 2 cups 104šF water 1 Tbls sugar stir in yeast and let set for 15 min. However, there has been much discussion about building a big (500ml) starter of Champagne yeast also. Then pitch. To each his own...
Rex Halfpenny (above) of the Michigan Beer Guide dropped in at many Michigan Big Brew '98 sites and said he is organizing a tasting event for those who brewed this beast in December or January. I can wait, Can you??? -- Phil Wilcox