Back in high school, I had a crush on a guy we nicknamed Gravity. You would have to shoot me to get me to remember his real name, but my best friend and I started calling him by this name because OMGWTFBBQ!!!!!!!! I couldn’t say his actual name!!!!! That would make me BLUSH!! So “Gravity” it was. (Turn off your dirty minds, folks—it had to do with him suspending a pencil on a desk, making it look like it was defying all laws of gravity). If anyone knows who this guy was, by all means go up to him and console him on what is surely a depressing life—I mean, he had a chance, man, he had a chance and never took it. If that doesn’t ruin a man for life, then I don’t know what will.
Anyway! The term gravity is a term used in brewing. In brewing and fermentation terms, gravity means the specific gravity of the wort at various stages of the process. Original gravity, therefore, is the gravity at the beginning of the fermentation process. It is also the name of a very groovy brewpub in Milan.
The Original Gravity is everything you could want in a brewpub—comfortable, relaxing, laid back. It has a nice patio where Brad Sancho, the brewer & owner, grills. (He also makes these baked beans that are the absolute best baked beans I have ever had, anywhere. Don’t tell me if there’s pork in there because I am living my life presuming there isn’t.). There is also the recent addition of an old school video arcade game and I may or may not have spent about $40 in quarters facing my old nemesis, Ms. PacMan. I might have hurt my wrist a little, too.
It goes without saying that the beer is great. This past Saturday, things were even greater because of a Very Special Episode ™ wherein the Ann Arbor Brewers Guild & Brad made twenty beers with the same wort, different yeast. (And, true to all Very Special Episodes ™, the Brewers Guild contemplated going “all the way”—oh, and it was the OG’s second birthday! Ohhhhh…that sounds so, so wrong.).
I know what you’re thinking. Okay maybe I don’t, but I know what I was thinking when first I heard of this endeavor—um, okay, yeah…are these all going to taste the same? The answer, friends, is NO! As some wise brewers have said to me, “You don’t make beer—the yeast makes beer. You just put the stuff together because, you know, yeast doesn’t have opposable thumbs.” (Okay, I added that last part). The yeast did its job—with some help from the brewers.
White Labs Yeast kindly donated the strains of yeast. Brad brewed the beer, the brewers donated carboys and squirted in the yeast and then it was just a waiting game…the wait was over on Saturday and it was totally worth it. Jeff and I sampled most of the twenty beers (there’s a reason why we didn’t finish and I’ll get to it in a minute) and here is a rundown:
- California Ale Yeast: not bitter, a little sweet, very “clean” and balanced
- English Ale Yeast: no sweetness, got a hit of hops but they faded
- Irish Ale Yeast: malty, didn’t detect diacetyl despite warning of such
- British Ale Yeast: bitter, nice hop finish (my personal favorite)
- Dry English Ale Yeast: not as dry as I would have thought, not bitter
- East Coast Ale Yeast: very neutral, neither hoppy nor overly malty
- Australian Ale Yeast: very pleasant esters, dry, malty
- European Ale Yeast: nice taste, light, clean
- Edinburgh Scottish Ale Yeast: not bitter, touch of sweetness, nice malt
- German Ale/Kolsch Yeast: very lagerlike, crisp
- Dusseldorf Yeast: a little harsh, maybe better suited to a different wort
- Pacific Ale Yeast: fruitier than other beers, nice malty taste
- California Ale Yeast: fuller bodied, a little harsh
- American Ale Yeast Blend: clean, smooth
- Cream Ale Yeast Blend, Trappist Ale Yeast, Belgian Ale Yeast, Belgian Saison Ale Yeast, San Francisco Lager Yeast, Cry Havoc*
The differences between these beers were amazing. I realize that my pithy descriptions don’t do them justice, but trust me when I say that these were markedly different beers. Again, it was the same recipe, but different yeasts. It would (sorta) be like making the same cookie recipe but using different baking powders and having them all taste different. (Yes, I realize that it’s not quite the same thing…that is why I said “sorta” J).
Special kudos goes out to the folks in the Ann Arbor Brewers Guild who staffed the event, to White Labs for donating the yeast, and of course, to Brad and the Original Gravity for hosting this event! Happy 2nd anniversary, friends!
If you haven’t been to the OG yet, do yourself a favor and go. Don’t get caught in that “OMG I can’t leave Ann Arbor!!!!!!!!” mindset that drives me absolutely batshit insane. The Bubble will still be here when you get back. And you will be full and happy. Cheers!
*The last list of yeasts belongs to the beers we didn’t get to try. I don’t make stuff up so I ain’t gonna lie to you and say that I tried them when I didn’t. What happened was, in a nutshell, humidity. Sitting outside in beer garden–>humidity + heat–>heat index of 97–>asthma goes haywire. So that was that, but I’m glad we got to try what we did.