Sam and Tod’s Brew Day

A couple weeks ago was a milestone for the Portsmouth Brewery and I was there to check out the awesomeness. Sam Calagione from Dogfish Head came to Portsmouth for a couple days to meet some beer lovers and to brew with Tod. For better photos and a recap of the beer social I suggest you check out Doreen’s post (link at bottom) if you haven’t already.

The day after the dinner Sam stuck around for the day to do a collaboration beer with Tod. They decided on a Gruit. The best part? I got invited to stick around and shoot the breeze with the brewers! The Gruit is an old style of beer which does not use hops but instead uses herbs and spices. The base of this beer was an Amber Porter recipe and the herbs came from Strawberry Banke here in Portsmouth and some from Tod’s backyard and the Sam provided 30 pounds of Plums and Peaches from Delaware. When asked how the beer would come out they both said “I have no idea”. They aren’t going by any specific recipe and kind of reinventing their own style of Gruit. This makes for a unique collaboration. It’s great to also see ingredients from the different areas involved in this beer.

As the first boil began, John Forti from Strawberry Banke came from his office down the road with bushels and baskets of herbs and spices for the beer. Lavender, Sweet Gale, Rosemary and the best name in herb history, horehound. Some of these needed to be pulled apart and stripped and I joined in on the fun to strip some Rosemary.

While doing this I got a chance to chat with John and Sam about Western Mass because as it turns out we all lived within miles of each other (probably not at the same time as I am a little younger). At this point we had about 8 people pitching in to peel the plums, strip the herbs and getting the boil ready to put all this lovely stuff in. The entire lounge downstairs smelled like an intense garden.

It was time to take the grain out and add the ingredients. I was allowed to be a fly on the wall for this process. For those who have been to the brewery you know how small the brewing room is. This room is fit for 2 or 3 but there were 7 people in the room watching the Gruit magic happen. After that was done it was time for lunch and more chit chat with the brewers. We talked a little about the state of the New Hampshire Brewers guild which seems to be at a stand still. Hopefully we can all rally behind the brewers of this great state to get together and rebuild the guild. The beer was transferred to the fermented and the smell was excellent. John knows so much about his herbs that it was easily a joy listening to him describe all the smells we were smelling from the wort. We tasted it (bragging points) and much to my surprise it didn’t taste horrifying. According to Tod and Tyler things are going great with the beer and they have recently added the Delaware peaches to the beer. Look out for this beer to hit the pub soon!

In conclusion Tod and Sam work extremely well together and they are super duper friendly. Their passion comes through in all the beer they make so I can’t wait to see what happens when these two crazy brewers come together and make a beer. Can’t say I have ever had a Gruit but I look forward to this one being my first. Big thanks to everyone at the Portsmouth brewery for letting me help out and ask questions!

Some links for further info from the day
Doreen’s recap of the beer dinner: Link

Rachel Forrest’s article on the day: Link

Portsmouth Patch’s article: There’s a new Brew in Town

John Forti’s photos from the day: Link

My Facebook photo album: Link