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Brew Day with Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits

On August 19, 2012, I was invited to brew my winning  home brew recipe “Time to Panic” with Ballast Point; which was part of the home brew competition they hosted along with the San Diego Padres.   I met up with Doug, one of the brewers at their Home Brew Mart location to brew 15 barrels of a 30 barrel batch.

The day started at 10:30 AM and after a quick introduction with Doug, he had me working.  I came prepared and excited to work.  My first task was to mill all the grain.  Now, keep in mind, I am a home brewer and used to milling around 11 -12 pounds or so for a 5 gallon batch.  Well, this was a little bit different. Aside from the first 50 pound bag that Doug milled to show me the ropes, he asked me to finish up the remaining 1,250 pounds!

I’m not sure how many 50 pound bags of grain that ended up being, but climbing a small step-ladder and pouring into the mill proved to be a good shoulder workout.  The good news was that under the mill, the grain is collected and an auger ultimately transfers it to the mash tun.

The brewery is located in the warehouse portion of their home brew shop which was opened in 1996.  In fact, this system is the first one installed and has been here ever since the beginning.  Boil kettle on the right and mash tun on the left.

So, with a lousy iPhone camera, this shot of the system’s control panel is terrible.  But, there really didn’t seem much more to it when compared to brewing on a sculpture from More Beer other than batch size.  Also, the control panel had temp controls for each fermenter.

I can only image that it must be so awesome for the founders of Ballast Point to see the original plaque on their first brewery that is still going strong from 1996!

One thing I especially liked about the brewery and storage areas was that there was no shortage of awards and other memorabilia highlighting the success of Ballast Point over the years.  Also, a shot of the hot liquor tank.

A look into the mash tun.  Around the top is a water line feeding 3 or 4 sprayers inside for sparging and doughing in.  This set up definitely rinses the grain efficiently.

Boil kettle filling after completing the sparge.  Ya, that took a while.

Boil going strong and hops ready to add.  Like that of the huge grain bill, I was a little caught off guard when Doug asked me to measure out each hop addition.  UN-like a home brew set up, I was for the first time measuring hops in pounds rather than ounces.  17 pounds to be exact!

A quick video of the boil – 15 barrels.

After whirl-pooling for about 15 minutes, the wort is transferred to the fermenter.  On its way, it is pumped through the heat exchanger for cooling and oxygen is hooked up.  This quick video shows the wort on its way to the fermenter just after passing by the oxygen.

Just one one of several of Ballast Point’s barrel aged beers waiting to be served!

I had a great time brewing with Doug and seeing the process on a much larger scale that I am used to as a 5 or 10 gallon batch home brewer.  Brewing up to 30 barrels for the 2012 Great American Beer Fest Pro-Am competition, to have on at their tasting rooms and maybe even around town in some beer bars was more than I ever expected for winning a local home brew competition.  For nothing more than a local home brewer who loves the hobby, this was a killer experience and I’m stoked to have Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits and the San Diego Padres supporting the home brew community.


One response

  1. Nate Hughes

    Read your post while I drank this beer at Toronado today. Congrats! As a fellow homebrewer, I can only imagine how awesome that experience must have been.

    September 29, 2012 at 17:11

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