Drink: Brew Day with Mike Brenner

Sometimes your travels just occur at home. This time we travelled to the kitchen to brew beer with a soon to be famous Milwaukee brewer.  Mike Brenner is a graduate of the Siebel Institute of Technology’s Master Brewer program.  Mike runs Brenner Brewing company, which is a “brewery-in-planning” that will focus on craft beers featuring the artwork of local Milwaukee artists on the labels. Mike started out as an artist and still loves the art scene.  Mike relates that “It all started on a sunny spring morning four years ago while homebrewing a batch of beer in front of my art gallery, Hotcakes. I realized that for 8 years people had been coming to my arts events for the beer in the keg more than the art on the walls. Then it hit me. I needed to flip the whole process. Instead of luring people into my art gallery with free beer and then trying to convince them to buy art, I should sell the beer and use my brewery as a vehicle to support and promote local artists and musicians.”   Mike is currently looking for potential investors so if you have a fat savings account that you need to put to good use contact Mike.  You may have a chance at investing in a new Milwaukee brewery.  Mike started raising money to fund the brewery on Kickstarter – that was where I located him and made a donation which gave Ryan and I a brewing day with Mike at our house.

Random nonsense:  Here’s a video of Mike that you may have some trouble forgetting! 

After some discussion with Mike, we decided to do 2 batches while he was here, a Hopfen weisse and an extract version of his awesome Brenner Brewing Witchcraft Imperial Stout.  That was a lot to take on with only one stove in the house, so Mike brought along his old turkey fryer burner and a large kettle for us to make the stout outside while we brewed the Weise inside on the stove.

DSC_0097 Here’s the raw ingredients, 36 pounds of liquid malt, 12 pounds or so of grain to steep, a pound of coffee, some honey, molasses and other miscellaneous odds and ends.





Hops, hops and more hops!







Mike and Ryan are studying the recipe and making final preparations, adjustments and the occasional witty repartee to help pass the many hours the brewing process takes.



While the hopfen weisse started in one pot, it quickly moved into 2 before boil as there was about a 1000%+ chance of boil over.




Here you can see that we started the brew process in the daylight, however it was long gone by the time the stout hit a boil.  It was a windy day so we put some old doors in place to block the wind to get as much heat up into the kettle as possible.  This is true brewing genius level improvisation.


In the photo you can see an official Brenner Brewing company kettle as well as the company car!  I believe it is an Austin Martin smartly disguised as a cheap domestic so it can be parked at any bar downtown without being hassled.



We moved the kettle into the garage to get even further out of the wind.  The sun set and a boil was eventually achieved!





The stout is looking good!  We made so much that we had to distribute it to 3 different fermenters to accommodate it all.  The hopfen weisse was completed much earlier and is fermenting in a plastic bucket.

Check back with us in about 6 weeks for the hopfen weisse and about 6 months to see how the stout developed!  After racking the stout we added vanilla beans and oak, so it should be a big flavor bomb.

We had a great time with Mike and look forward to either getting new  jobs at Brenner Brewing Company once it opens or at least going for one of the tours.

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