Every year Vermont throws one of the best Beer festivals in the country. The Vermont Brewers Festival, the single brewfest of the year that bring almost all the breweries in the state into one location for an amazing experience on the waterfront. A lot of breweries choose to do collaborations with one another in order to brew a beer exclusively for the Festival.
This year we partnered with Josh, the owner of Kickback Brewery, and we created a fruit wheat beer which was conditioned with local strawberries from Mazza's. I've known Josh for at least 3 years, we have a homebrew shop at our location, and Josh has picked up supplies since we opened. We've talked about brewing a beer together for a while and this year was fate, because for 1 month leading up to the event I would run into josh at random locations every few days, 1st at Lowes, then at a local ice cream shop, so after talking about it a little and then running into each other several times within a week, we got everything together and put things into motion.
Josh came by after work and we brewed the wheat beer, fairly simplistic grain bill of brewers malt and wheat, with a few specialty grains. I pulled out 8 tubs of hops that i had in my fridge so Josh could go over them to see what we would use for whirlpool additions. We were brewing on our new 7BBL system, but i scaled it down to just over 5 BBL brewed. It was a tough brew, not because of the complexity, but more because of the heat, early July started to creep close to the 90's, and We had to wait for Josh to get out of work, so we started the brew at about 1PM, so by 4 PM it was probably 100 in the brewery with 200% humidity. But we finished it, pitched the yeast and waited.
Brewing the beer was the easy part and we had to get that done fast because we were running out of time. The following week we went to Mazza's to pick up the strawberries, we got a total of about 150 lbs of strawberries for a total of 1 lb / gallon of beer, which typically for strawberry puree might be light because strawberries have such a delicate and light flavor, but these were local fresh strawberries bursting with color and flavor!
That night in the taproom we recruited everyone drinking beer to help us destem all the strawberries, it took 6 people about 1.5 hours to do it all. We then put them all in a 30 gallon pot, mashed them up by hand, and heated them to 150 for 10 minutes in order to pasteurize them. After we did, we cooled them a little but not much, added all 30 gallons into the fermenter and let the yeast do its thing.
After a week of conditioning, we didn't have any time left, we had to cool it, and carbonate it. We were filling kegs of the beer hours before the brewfest so you couldn't get it any fresher then that! We ended up calling the beer "Seed's and All" it was a hit, and we had a blast brewing it. 1st Republic Brewing co and Kickback will definitely be doing another collaboration here in the near future!