Our 2015 Homebrew Challenge To The Death was a larger undertaking than we had bargained for. The sheer number of entries was daunting, the tasting of said entries took (surprise, surprise) much longer than we thought it would, and just when we thought we were in the clear, the winner ended up being employed at a brewery. But! It's okay! It's all okay. We did some investigating and learned that David, our winner, got a job AFTER he submitted his entry, so it works out to the best case scenario for a lot of homebrewers: being an outofhomebrewer.

But after all the investigating and tasting and planning came the fun part -- the brew day! David is a stand up guy with tons of passion, knowledge and and energy, and we really threw him into the eye of the storm, starting in the wee hours of the morning with the mash in. As an added bonus, he came to us already familiar with things like tri-clamps and hydrometers, so he was a huge help to the team that day (rather than an innocent bystander).

For this brew we had to acquire a few new-to-us ingredients, one of them being a Scottish yeast strain from Wyeast that's suited to strong, malty ales, with high ester production. Seeing as this was a new organism to hit the brewery, we also wanted to run some tests, check it out under the microscope, and put it through the cellometer to check the viability. Luke and David got a chance to focus on yeast health in the afternoon, and determine how much to pitch into the brew. With no time to lose, David and the brewers got back to work making the stout.

When the oxygenated wort was finally, safely in our smallest fermentor, we enlisted David to get on top of a ladder and pitch the yeast, thus beginning the process that would result in a tasty tasty beer. In the few weeks since that time, David has dropped by before work to taste the progress and see that the brewers weren't just watching cat videos on Youtube everything was on course

But even with the brewday and the majority of the fermentation behind us, the beer was still in need of one very precious ingredient: THE COFFEE. As a group of serious caffeine users and abusers, the event titled "Cold Brew Pick-Up" on our calendar was looking like a beacon of bright light.

On Friday morning last week, we made our way to Pilot Roasters in the east end, which just so happens to be right next door to our good pals at Left Field Brewery, further strengthening our theory that beer and coffee production are a harmonious and reciprocal duo of industries (we picked up a couple bottles to conduct research). At Pilot, the fantastic Aleida gave us a tour, plied us with an excellent espresso, and showed us what the daily cupping was all about. We geeked out over all their shiny new equipment and left with an entire keg of cold brew, which is basically like a cookie the size of a baseball diamond, or enough ice cream to fill a kiddie pool. In other words, a lethal dose. We knew our main objective was to keep it away from vultures back at the brewery.

The single origin bean in question is the Kenya Lenana, which is explained by the fine folks at Pilot as the following: Mount Lenana is a sacred site to the region’s Kukuyi tribe, and you can taste in the cup that it’s a pretty special place. It has that magic combination of high altitude and mineral-rich volcanic soil that produces complex coffees that burst with flavour. Grown at the base of the mountain by small family and co-op plantations, this coffee is classic Kenya: bright, juicy, full-bodied and brimming with sugary sweetness.

The tasting notes on this bad boy are blackberry jam, cranberry, and lime. SOLD.

In the end we managed to get all 20L of cold brew into the fermentor, decided that subtlety wasn't the name of the game, and then went as far as to add another 40L a few days later, just to really hammer the point home. This beer is a tasty and caffeinated (about 6% cold brew) stout with lots of delicious roasted malt character, dark chocolate bitterness, and coffee-derived fruity flavours.

Yesterday we packaged the first ever Bellwoods Brewery Homebrew Competition winning beer, and today we release it for all to enjoy. Thanks to the incredibly generous people over at Pilot, the kind and patient baristas at Crafted that keep us going each week, and to David Everitt for his participation, help, recipe, and camaraderie.

May we present to you: David Everitt's Midnight Pilot, on draft and in (a very very limited number of) bottles now!