It’s with a sigh of relief that our midnight brewing has come to a close. After a crazy summer season, the production team is looking forward to cooler weather in the brewhouse, and collective stocking up on Oktoberfest.
We caught up with Brewer Brad Young this week on his last overnight shift, and we just so happened to show up right as they were testing how Cotton Candy was doing in the tanks.
“I put sugar in it last night, and they did the flavoring today,” Brad shares.
“The base was similar to a Bog base. I tried it before sugar and flavoring was added, and it was almost flavorless, and not very hoppy,” he says.
Of course, The Bog has a very distinct, sweet, cranberry flavor to it, so while these two brews may share a similar base, they’re as different as cousins on opposite sides of the family.
“I did shandy-ize it, though,” Brad says with a laugh.
“There’s not as much beer-y flavor to this one at all,” he admits. “That’s what my mom always says. She’s not a huge beer drinker, but she likes The Bog and Cranberry Good Good the best. That’s her thing—she’ll say ‘oh, that’s not very beer-y,’ or ‘it’s good, but it’s still too beer-y.’”
“I think that I like it,” Brad says, taking a contemplative sip of Cotton Candy. “Everyone likes sweets. There’s sugar in it; it’s delicious. You can’t deny that.”
“This reminds me of the blue cotton candy Bubblicious bubble gum,” he says. “It’s gonna be a killer slushie.”
“I’m a purist when it comes to beer for the most part; I love just regular beer. But this is a fun change up,” Brad says.
One of the first things you’ll notice about this brew is the color. It’s stunning. And, unlike with cotton candy, that vibrant color isn’t artificial.
“We didn’t put weird shit in it to color it,” Brad says. “It’s a flower. You don’t get much flavor off of it. We kind of just made something like tea with the flower and the color is so intense.”
The tea was essentially sterile hot liquor, which sterilized all the flowers and helped to pull the color out. From there, this ale got much of the same treatment as our shandies, but with a lighter body to it.
“Even though it’s sweet, it’s still pretty thin. It’s nice,” Brad says, nodding.
As we sip on a cup of Cotton Candy, we chat with Brad about how his stint in overnights has been going. Brad has spent the last month on overnight shifts, and is happy to be coming off them starting this month.
“Days don’t make any sense to me,” he says with a laugh.
“The first week was rough, but the second week I was fine. Since then, I’ve been back and forth. It’s just weird—that’s the best way to put it,” he says.
Unlike our resident coffee fiends, Brad opts for a green superfood energy blend to help keep him motivated through the night.
“It’s got yerba mate and matcha in it for caffeine,” Brad says.
“The tea ones, especially this stuff, which you can get at Shoprite by the way, I’m a big fan of,” Brad says with a grin, holding the capsule up like a true brand ambassador.
(Ed. note: Any tea energy blend brands wanna sponsor Brad? He’s even got us interested in trying some!)
“It’s flavored, lemon/lime, so it’s not that gnarly, grassy taste. I just shake it up with water,” Brad says. “So that gets me through the night; I love it.”
Other than one morning here or there, Brad hasn’t had too much trouble adjusting to the night schedule.
“I went a little psycho making my room blackout,” Brad says with a smile. “I bought the blackout curtains, and I stuck a towel under my door, because there’s a window in the hallway that lets in light.”
“It’s a mental thing. You see the sun and your body stops making melatonin and is telling you to get up,” he says.
“The very first night of overnights, I was obviously exhausted. It’s a weird shock to the body. I stayed up all night Sunday before my first shift to try and make myself sleep Monday during the day, which didn’t really work,” Brad says with a laugh.
Of course, the first real morning on the shift didn’t go exactly as planned. Although he passed out early that morning after getting off work, the gas company rolled up at 10AM to dig out and work right outside his house.
Those readers who regularly work nights surely know the struggle of the daily noises and interruptions that can happen, from yard work to the general hustle and bustle that wouldn’t be socially acceptable in the middle of the night.
“It’s necessary, and I’m happy to do it,” he says. “It’s nice. It’s just me and Sean in here.”
“I love seeing my coworkers, but at the same time, it’s nice to just hit go and everything’s ready when I get here,” Brad says.
During the day, it’s more of a complex process of cellar, packaging, and brewing teams working together to coordinate everything for the day. At night, it’s a much different pace.
Now that Brad is going back to morning shifts, he’s looking forward to getting back in the groove.
“I’ve become more of a morning person since working here, and as I’ve gotten older,” Brad says.
“I’ve just got to train my body back into that,” he says. “Before I went on this shift, I talked to a friend of mine who’s been doing overnights for a while, and he gave me a lot of advice.”
“He said, you’re going to be sleep deprived and testy. Just know that that’s going to happen. If you find yourself getting frustrated with people in your life, take a step back, and remind yourself that you’re not sleeping like you used to,” Brad shares.
Brad definitely found the advice useful, especially since he would revert his schedule back to normal on the weekends. On Saturdays, he knew he had to get out and about to do something in order to combat the fogginess.
“I went for a long bike ride one day, and a long run another time,” he says.
“If I kept the same schedule and stayed up all night on the weekends, what am I going to do? Sit here and play video games? I mean, I could and I did,” Brad says, laughing. “I just couldn’t do that every weekend.”
Brad is determined to stick to older video games, which are usually on sale, so he’s been playing through the Assassin’s Creed series.
“I’m the guy who plays games and puts the mods on and the cheats to make it easier because I want it to be more fun,” he says with a grin.
During his night brews, Brad brewed some of our flagships, like Coastal Evacuation, as well as a lot of Oktoberfest.
“I love brewing that beer, so it’s fun for me to get to brew a lot of that,” Brad says.
Brad also ended up brewing a lot of Captain May, as well as some Devil’s batches for this year, and a new IPA coming out soon!
If you’re looking to try our new Cotton Candy fruit ale, (which you won’t believe is beer at first!), you can find it for a limited time starting today, September 3rd, in our Tasting Room on draft for pints or as part of a flight, or in 4-packs to go in our Brewtique.
The best part? It’s also going to be available as a slushie. Join us this weekend to come try it out and make sure you stock up to share this one with friends!