Ska Brewing Co. is set to tap my collaboration beer at 5 p.m. this Saturday, Feb. 13. Soggy Coaster Imperial Red Ale is being transferred from carboys to kegs and put on carbon dioxide ahead of its tapping.
This is the culmination of the brewer-blogger “collabeeration,” as Ska calls it, to design a Ska beer of my own, brew it with their staff and blog about it all the while. As my regular readers know, I chose to brew an imperial red ale based on Ska’s Pinstripe. I figured that none of the four breweries in Durango were making an imperial red, so I ought to.
Jeff Hammett of the Durango blog Beer N Bikes brewed a Belgian-American IPA, which likewise will be tapped Saturday.
Last weekend, Thomas Larsen, head brewer at Ska, and I transferred my beer from a 10-gallon fermenter into carboys, glass vessels (pictured) that resemble supersized growlers. They become quite heavy and slippery when full of beer, and I was terrified of dropping one. If a carboy had shattered and wasted five gallons of my beer, I would have been a sad blogger indeed.
Jeff’s beer went from the carboys to kegs to begin carbonating. I’m looking forward to trying it.
I got a quick taste of Soggy Coaster Imperial Red Ale during the transfer, really the only opportunity to taste the beer before it lands in kegs. You may feel free to take this with a grain of salt - because it is after all my beer - but I think it’s superb. Soggy Coaster is turning out extremely well, with a big, red malt body, aggressive but not overpowering hopping and a fantastic citrus aroma from dry hopping with Willamettes that perfectly introduces the taste.
Judge for yourself Saturday evening at Ska HQ, 225 Girard Street in Bodo Industrial Park.
Whatever concerns I had about the original gravity being too high, resulting in too boozy of a beer, forget them. I’m proud of the final product (with the caveat that it may change a little in the week since, and with the introduction of carbonation).
I have to give Larsen a lot of credit. He’s done a great job guiding me through the brewing process. Every time I wanted to throttle back and make my beer less exciting, he encouraged me to go the other way, resulting in a distinct and very tasty imperial red ale.
We took a final gravity reading, so for you brewing geeks, here are the stats:
Alcohol by volume: 8.44 percent
International Bitterness Units: 57.5
Original gravity: 20.8 degrees Plato
Final gravity: 5.8 degrees Plato
Calories per pint: 406
I’m thrilled to share my beer with friends, readers and of course Ska’s employees and customers. It’s a little bittersweet, though. I’ll soon have to return to sharing news and opining on other people’s beers rather than brewing my own. And once Soggy Coaster Imperial Red Ale is gone, it’s gone. I won’t be able to taste it again unless I get into homebrewing (which I’d like to do, providing I can find some space), clone the recipe and brew it myself. I think I'm suffering through the brewing equivalent of post-partum depression.
Dave Thibodeau, president of Ska, deserves a hearty thanks. He conceived of this idea in participatory, blog-based journalism. It was a fairly innovative and trusting move to open a commercial brewery to a blogger, let him brew any kind of beer he wanted, name it and write about the project with no restrictions. Same goes to Larsen, who helped me brew the stuff.
Please come by Ska to support the project. Those hops ain’t free.