It’s been said before by many a brewer that the first time seeing your beer on a store shelf, or on the tap wall of a favorite local pub, is sort of akin to a musician hearing his or her song on the radio for the first time. Jokes about America’s crumbling mainstream music industry aside, imagine how much more surreal that moment would be if you were not a professional brewer at all, but instead, a homebrewer.
That moment will soon come to fruition for Round Rock’s Jay McEvers, who after winning an Austin Zealots pro-am competition with his ESB recipe, won the opportunity to have his beer brewed commercially at Rogness Brewing Company.
Brewed July 18, Jay’s winning recipe will serve as Rogness’s entry into the Great American Beer Festival’s Pro-Am Competition, and will be released in kegs and bottles in late August.
“The whole concept of the ProAm competition is near and dear to our heart with [Rogness/ Austin Homebrew Supply owners] Forrest and Diane’s homebrewing roots in the Austin community,” Rogness’s Jon Airheart said. “We can’t wait for the public to try Jay’s excellent ESB recipe. It’s an underrepresented style with a growing demand.”
Jay began homebrewing back in 2003 when a friend from work showed him how to brew using malt extract and steeping grains. In 2004, his girlfriend Louise (now his wife) introduced him to local homebrewers Keith and Pam Bradley. The Bradleys have racked up an impressive amount of homebrewing accolades all over the country, and Keith showed Jay the ropes.
“I learned the process of all-grain brewing from Keith, watching him every chance that I got from 2004 to 2006,” Jay said. “Keith specialized in big boozy beers, lagers, and hoppy styles that I soon began to love as much as he does. By 2007 I had a 10 gallon all-grain brewing system fashioned after the one he used, and we were brewing side-by-side at his house several times per year. Keith and I brewed as partners for a couple of years, entering competitions across the Lone Star Circuit. In 2010 we were named the LSC Homebrew Team of the Year.”
Jay’s winning ESB recipe is a variation of a recipe he and Keith have been brewing for several years.
“English Pale Ales have always been one of my favorite beer styles,” Jay said. “Fuller’s ESB, though, when it is fresh…is a beautiful malty beer, and a damn hard one to copy. That was my goal with this beer. Early versions of this recipe were too bitter, too dry, or were just missing something.”
After getting the recipe in the right direction, Jay and Keith have both had ample success over the years tweaking it for various competitions.
“When I heard that Rogness wanted an ESB for their Pro-Am entry this year, I broke out the recipe, replaced the wheat malt with some oats, figured out how to brew it with RO water, and managed to get it carbonated and kegged the day before the entry deadline,” Jay said.
Jay’s ESB recipe beat out about 15 other Zealots entries to win the Rogness pro-am competition. The recipe then had to be scaled up and adapted to be brewed on Rogness’s much larger commercial system.
“I brew 10 gallons of beer at a time at home,” Jay said. “For this recipe, that requires about 24 lbs. of grain and 5 oz. of English hops. The batch that was brewed at Rogness was 15 barrels…that’s 465 gallons using about 1150 lbs of grain and 14 lbs of English hops. It was awesome to dump that much grain in the mash and toss small buckets of hops at a time during the boil!”
For Jay, the brew day was even more exciting because he got to spend it alongside a familiar face.
“It was also a lot of fun spending the day with Rogness head brewer, friend, and fellow Austin Zealot, Dan Wheeler, someone who transitioned from homebrewer to commercial brewer about two years ago. I think every homebrewer would envy Dan a little, just as I do,” Jay said.
In October, Jay and Louise will pack their bags to join the Rogness team at the Great American Beer Festival to see how the ESB fairs in the competition.
“This will be our first GABF, so we are quite excited,” Jay said.