Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A brew in search of a party

A few more details about the pale ale that bested a coffee porter to win the Office Beer Bar & Grill homebrew contest.

Matt Lamm says he originally crafted his Morristown Pale Ale – a golden-to-orange West Coast interpretation – months ago for a softball team party.

It had become Matt's custom to treat teammates to some of his beer creations after games. So the team's pitcher tapped Matt, who took up homebrewing five years ago while he was a University of Delaware grad student, to come up with something for an end-of-the-season party.

However, that get-together never happened.

And Matt, 29, who lives in Morristown and works in the pharmaceutical industry, suddenly had 10 gallons of beer that he was pleased with; yet it was a beer that also had lost its wider audience. A recent night out for a beer with his girlfriend, Selin, at the Office's Morristown location gave Matt's brew a new mission (beyond personal enjoyment) when they spied a notice about the bar's homebrew contest.

Matt entered what he had on hand: a blonde ale brewed from an extract and the Morristown Pale Ale, an all-grain endeavor backboned with Briess pale malt and shaped with some crystal (40 Lovibond) and Vienna malt, then hopped with Cascades and Centennial in the boil and dry-hopped with Centennials. Matt also plucked some Cascade cones from a first-year bine he had growing in planter on his deck and tossed them straight into the boil.

The result was a 5.2% ABV brew at 59 IBUs that Matt just finished the last of a week or so ago. As part of his victory, he'll get to help brew a scaled-up version at High Point Brewing, one of the contest sponsors. That's tentatively scheduled for the third week of January, with the finished brew to go on tap at Office locations in sometime in late February.

As for that coffee porter, the contest's runner-up, Matt hopes he can take a crack at the recipe created by Peter Kennedy of, or a lager. But for now, he's focused on the grand-scale reprise of his pale ale, which will be part of a soiree after all – a ceremonial tapping at the Office, a party his softball teammates just may be able to catch.