October 27, 2011

Introducing Project ZUTROB

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to judge homebrewed beer made by employees of Crescent Crown. Crescent Crown is the Miller/Coors distributor in the Valley. It is the parent company of World Class Beverages, their craft/fine beer arm. Joining me at the judges table was Uwe Boer from Sun Up, Chuck Noll from World Class beverages, Derek Osborne from BJs Brewhouse and Anthony Canecchia of Santan.
The Distinguished Panel
Tenth and Blake, makers of Blue Moon, supplied the kits to 10 teams of 4. All were given some basic instructions, an Amber Ale kit and a few pointers from your truly the week after Labor Day. The beers, for first extract batches, were good overall. There were some typical first batch issues on some, but nothing out of the ordinary. Everyone walked away with an appreciation for beer's simplicity and nuance.

All of this is to introduce an idea that I have been kicking around for over two years called Project ZUTROB: Zepto Under The Radar Office Brewing wherein I will clandestinely brew an all-grain batch of a single bottle of beer at my office. I don't know if future updates will reside here at this blog or elsewhere. I am in the midst of piloting the office as you'll see below. I haven't yet scheduled Batch 1.

The Zepto Brewhouse
For the office pilot, I am beginning to cook up some unmalted barley to introduce the office to my new "diet". I'll be cooking up different cereals so that my office denizens will become accustomed to sweet grain smells and won't notice when I switch to doughing in an actual mash. 

I'll use a mini crock pot and Ranco Controller to create the infusions to step mash. I'll use a Bubba keg to mash and sparge. The Crock pot will also serve as my boil kettle. Finally the controller and a mini-fridge will serve as the fermentation chamber.

The Crock Pot is, well a crock pot, and not very quick to heat up today's batch of Pearl Barley even on high. Maybe I  should switch to a mini Rice Cooker. Thoughts?


  1. I'm not sure what Zepto means, but I love it!

  2. I used zepto in the name before Sam Adams was deemed a "small" brewer by the Brewers Association.


  3. DAMMIT ROB! Now I'm pissed because we have nothing to do at work today and I could have TOTALLY brewed. Apparently I need to keep some extract in the cooler for future brew days. I already keep a carboy in the trunk...

  4. I have a .75 gal system I call my femto brewery. .75 is about a 6-pack so perfect for pilot batches before scaling up to a massive 5 gallons.

    Anything other than the crockpot is going to attract too much attention. The 'high' setting should result in a moderate simmer so that shouldn't be a problem. I'd probably shorten the boil to 45 mins, though; Actually, you could shorten it to 30 or even 15 if you don't do anything too hoppy.

    Great experiment!