Our small batch Co-Pilot series is an opportunity for our brewers to get creative and make one-off, specialty beers that we share as brewery-only releases with you. Smokin’ G is the direct result of pandemic-inspired ingenuity, creativity, and frankly, a lot of extra free time. Head brewer Mike “Lashes” Gleason explains:
“Once the pandemic fully hit us and we were put on an odd work schedule, I found myself wanting to have a big project to keep me busy during my off days. I’m not much of a handyman or woodworker but I wanted a challenge. I love really good BBQ, either southern or Texas style, so I decided to try my hand at a DIY project to build myself a wooden smokehouse. I wanted to keep it as cheap as possible, so I reused our German pallets; they are too small for us to use for packaged beer.”
After disassembling several pallets and loosely following a DIY video on YouTube, he began his summer project.
Once he found a vintage 1979 Tempood firewood stove as the heat source, he built the smokehouse large enough to smoke various sizes and cuts of meat; making trays big enough to have multiple cuts on each tray. Then, it dawned on him…
“This is when I thought about smoking my own grain. I thought it would be cool to smoke enough grain to use on our pilot brewhouse system. I had some Pecan wood, which I thought would go nice in a brown ale. The Pecan wood gives off a nice nutty and sweet flavor, and be very mild compared to mesquite or beechwood.”
Although smoking malt is a bit different than smoking meat; but he quickly figured out the recipe for success.
“Knowing true BBQ is low and slow for temp and time, smoking grain is even lower temp but not as long. You want to keep the temp below 200 degrees or you will burn the grain which then will give off a bitter taste. Plus it only takes around 2 hours if you have the correct temp. With the trays so large, I was able to do 16 pounds of grain at one time. All I had to do was lightly wet the grain so it would be able to able to get the smoke flavor.”
The final product is Co-Pilot: Smokin’ G! A 5.6% smoked Brown Ale, with aromas of chocolate, caramel, nutty sweetness, and smoke, with a malty, smoky-sweet flavor.