Cogito Ergo Brew in Rome, Italy
This story is about an American brewer, a Canadian brewer, and an Italian brewer is bound to entertain you with laughter, happiness, and fulfillment. Making friends and brewing beer all over the world!
On Saturday Feb.17th, after spending the previous night out at a few craft beer bars in Rome with my new friends from Italy (@cogito_ergo_brew , @aambraan , @btbrewingliam on Instagram) we had a three way international collaboration brew at the awesome home and hospitality of Cogito and his amazing girlfriend.
My Canadian brewer friend Liam, who you might remember from my "Valencia" blog post , decided to return from a few weeks in Morocco to meet me out in Rome, Italy for a few days. When we got back to our hostel Friday night we knew that Saturday morning was brew day and we had to take a 30 minute metro ride to a smaller city south east of Rome called Frascati. The train was planned to leave at 8:54AM and it was 8:44AM and no word or sight of Liam yet as he had to transfer hostels over to my hostel earlier that morning. I got a text saying to meet at metro station, 5 min. away. I sped walked over to the station, and 8:52 comes around and I see Liam with the train tickets, we find out were way down the train station so we started running, with backpacks on both our backs.
We arrive at the train and jump on in, and within 3 seconds of getting in, the train takes off to our destination, Frascati. After the 30 minute train ride, we arrive at the train station in Frascati. The last message I was able to send to Cogito was that we weren't going to make the train. We had to aimlessly walk around this outskirts city where we knew nothing, so we decided to munch on some sandwiches while figuring out what to do.
After walking around for 20 minutes searching for WiFi, we find a spot with free WiFi and were able to send out a message via Instagram to Cogito. He meet us at the coffee shop across the street where we got an espresso and croissant before starting to drink beer all day.
Cogito meets us at the coffee shop and walks us around the corner, up a little path, to a small field that is the garden of the palace of Frascati. We walked back down and ended up walking another 0.3 miles to the apartment complex they lived at. Amber's cousin, Giordano who was a 21yo rugby player/cook was with us the whole time too, but didn't speak much English but was being awesome for trying.
We walk in to their apartment and see their black lab and tabby cat hanging out, and the first thing they wanted to show me was their beer wall of all the beers they previously drank, which was pretty spectacular!
His temp controlled fermentation cooler/fridge was also in that room.
We ended up spending most of the time in the kitchen, where we would be brewing as well. He pulls out something that was an all in one electric brew system that measured temperature (and can set temperature) and had a timer on it, something similar to the Grainfather. We were brewing an Imperial Porter this day and he pulled out his brewing log, it was very detailed, especially for a homebrewer. He also shows us his yeast bank and hops in the freezer. He collected yeast from professional beers and harvested it up to a 5gal pitching rate and saved many different styles of beer like that. Some varieties of hops may not be so easy/cheap to obtain here in Italy, like it is in the USA, let alone outskirt cities of the main cities.
He brings out very soft mineral leveled water, and the guys start filling the brewing system with water, 20L, and brought the water to roughly 72 degrees Celsius, where we would then pitch all of the base malt, which was marris otter.
We mashed in, put the gypsum, calcium chloride, and epsom salt in and put the lid on to rest for a 90 minute mash with a slow consistent vorlauf, recirc.
At the 75 minute mark we added the remaining dark malt to the mash along with the little amount of baking soda and whirfloc. We re-stirred the mash, and let sit for 15 more minutes.
By this point we are on our third homebrew that Cogito graciously provided to us. The first beer of the day was a Bohemian Pilsner. I rated this one a 7.4/10 but was still impressed. It tasted just like I would expect homebrews to taste even in the USA. The second beer we tried was a 8% Belgian Tripel that he had brewed roughly 4 months ago.