Once in the park, visitors are transported back to the mid-19th century. Employees wear period costumes and all the labor is done by hand. There are no chainsaws here. Wood is split by hand by men swinging axes in blue overalls. That goes for the beer-making process as well — all done by the sweat of the brow (Photos: Carillon Brewing)
The Bonding Beverage
Planning a shul men’s social trip is never easy. A kehillah includes all kinds of personalities and interests, so the activity has to strike the right balance between light and serious, engaging and kosher. It also has to appeal to a wide range of ages, from a 70-year-old retiree to a 28-year-old straight out of kollel. Ideally, it will be the kind of activity where everyone walks away a little smarter.
So when the Ottensoser family of Congregation Zichron Eliezer in Cincinnati stumbled upon the Carillon Brewing Company in Dayton, Ohio, while researching a family trip for a friend, they hit the jackpot. Beer! A few weeks later, after we worked out certain kashrus issues with our shul rabbi, Rabbi Avrohom Weinrib, we were off on our brewing adventure.
People have been drinking beer for thousands of years. Ancient communities in the Far East and Middle East independently developed beer, which was enjoyed for its alcohol content as much as for its social-bonding properties. Beer, which is basically cereal grains and water that have undergone fermentation, was also safer to drink in many places than water, which was often contaminated. Since beer is boiled as part of the brewing process, many of the impurities are boiled out. Beer was often made at home, as part of the daily chores: feed the horses, fill the icebox, hang the laundry — and make the beer for the adults and children alike.
Beer has also been an important part of the American economy. There are currently more than 5,000 breweries in the United States that produce more than 200 million barrels every year.
The Carillon Brewing Company makes heirloom beer, brewed as it was made in 1850. It sits on the grounds of the Carillon Historical Park outside of Dayton, Ohio, whose most famous citizens were the Wright Brothers, the builders of the world’s first airplane. Their house has been moved to the park, where visitors can go back in time to see the inventors’ early days.
Once in the park, visitors are transported back to the mid-19th century. Employees wear period costumes and all the labor is done by hand. There are no chainsaws here. Wood is split by hand by men swinging axes in blue overalls. That goes for the beer-making process as well — all done by the sweat of the brow.
Making beer is a multistep process that includes milling the barley, drawing and heating the water, mashing the malt, boiling the mixture, adding hops, and then allowing the liquid to ferment. Our group met with the brewmaster and quickly got to work on the first step of the beer-making process — mashing. To condense brewing into the limited four hours of time our group had, Carillon had already milled the malted grain.
What is malted grain? It’s the product of a process that starts when brewers take cold, dry cereal grains (wheat, barley, rye) and cause them to sprout, releasing their enzymes. This is accomplished at the brewery by spreading the grain on the floor and soaking it with warm water over a two-week period. Brewers then dry that grain in an oven at a high temperature and use the resulting product for beer making.
Our first job was to take those crushed, malted grains, add them to a hot water kettle, and then break them apart by way of mashing. Carillon gave us big wooden paddles (the kind you might imagine were on row boats during World War II) and we started to stir the grain in large steel kettle pots that had been heated over a charcoal and wood fire. In fact, even the kettle pots were period products. Apparently, there’s a company in Williamsburg, Virginia, that still makes them the way they did 200 years ago.
(Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 699)