My sincere apologies for not posting this blog in a more timely manner. All of this was documented on FaceBook, because honestly, it is far easier to make a 5 minute post than to write a 30 minute blog.

On October 19th, after months of planning, I finally had the opportunity to make one of my beers in a professional setting. Garden Nectar, our Belgian Blonde, was brewed at the Brewers Tasting Room in St. Pete. Brian Cendrowski, of CroxBone Brewing, was my cherpa for the brew day, and I also mentored under him when he brewed there recently, so that was a bit of comforting familiarity. And, as it turns out, that is a good starting point for our story, so lets go back to where this all really began...

Months and months ago, Brian was making one of his beers at BTR. He posted on Facebook that he had added some ingredients. I found something about his post curious, so I asked a question about what he was doing... and thus began a friendship borne out of a mutual appreciation for finer points in beer making. We went to his release, and finally met, enjoying his beer and discussing my desire to also brew in that environment some day. Many conversations, and a few beers, later, and Brian began making plans to brew another beer there, and I was invited to come on brew day and learn the equipment and the process. I enthusiastically agreed, and took along a six pack of a variety of my own brews. I met his wonderful wife Nicole, and the three of us discussed the pros and cons of several different ideas all loosely centered around getting me a chance to brew there as well. We finally agreed on Garden Nectar, my Belgian Blonde, as a good first choice. It was simple, clean, fairly quick to make and be ready to sale, and a style of beer that would appeal to a wide audience.

Finally, a recipe was chosen, and a date was put on the calendar. I purchased all of the ingredients, and showed up. The fun began...

The brew day itself went pretty well, although there were a few "Wait, what?!?" moments along the way...but they just added to the learning, and the humor, and the adventure, and while we may have broken a few things, no major damage was done, and the beer ended up in the fermenter. One thing I have learned along the way... if you put yeast into sugar water and get the temperature right, one way or another, you are gonna end up with beer. So, all adventure notwithstanding, I was pretty confident we had done good work. And we had a great time doing it.

I posted an event on Facebook to mark the release date and began drumming up as much interest as I could.

Over the next few weeks, Rick Wolfe, of BTR, worked with me to do the normal beer baby sitting, checking the temps, gravities, moving stuff around, and finally kegging it, keeping me involved, letting me learn new processes and gain experiences on new equipment.

When the big night arrived, I met with many of my friends and watched as many other people enjoyed the fruits of my labor. It was a unique moment of pride, pleasure and humility. We had a wonderful time, and I have a new set of memories that will last me a life time.

I hope I get to brew there again soon. It was a great experience, and a lot of fun. I met new, great people, and the next few blogs will all bounce off of that thread, as I explore the connections that being part of the local craft beer scene in St. Pete can make. This is a very vibrant community, and a wonderful time to be a part of it.

Brew On!