1.The yeast – the Old One, the dead one that lay dreaming, now awakened and hungering – that I have been propping up is 2782 Staro Prague Lager, the ne plus ultra, the once and future king, the undisputed heavyweight champion, scientifically proven to be the greatest Czech lager strain of all time.*
* citation needed
2. A (relatively) quick n dirty single decoction for a weeknight brew session after the last item on the winter holiday social calendar. <soapbox> I’ve seen it stated that decoction mashing is – probably in general, but specifically for homebrewers – unnecessary and a waste of time. I can’t argue that it’s unnecessary; there’s certainly no need for it in order to achieve conversion with the malts we have to work with.
“A waste of time,” though, gets my hackles up a bit: a pastime that is, for the vast majority of the 1.2 million of us, first and foremost a recreational, creative, and relaxing (as opposed to competitive or vocational) pursuit shouldn’t have stipulations of “correctness” or efficiency imposed on it. Maybe you’ve heard the same thing about something else, like not brewing all grain. Or fly fishing for trout with anything but dry flies (which would in truth be lame, but I digress even further).
Last week, a mutual friend sent me a newspaper article on homebrewing from the year 1998. Besides a number of interesting parallels between then and now, it contained a positively zinging quote, which I’ll try to paraphrase: “A homebrewer is someone who will spend 10 hours trying to figure out how to make something he can buy for $5.00.”
That is a truism, citizens, and the umbrage I take with the “waste of time” argument – besides the fact that it’s my time; and besides the fact that it overlooks the actual reasons that so very many of us homebrew in the first place, or at all; and besides the fact that it ignores the intangible (but I would think still obvious!) payoff we get beyond the self-evident pints and attendant need to piss – is that, extending that logic to its conclusion, the production of beer at home by amateurs is a waste of time. Seriously. The pros can do it better, easier, and cheaper, so what are we doing boiling grain or stirring in malt syrup and having fun?
3. Czech dark lager: yes, please. Bohemian spring barley, Saaz-intensive, a bit more bitter and with a bit more hop flavor than Munich Dunkel. I only wish I had it ready to drink right now, because it would take the edge right off the wind chill.
Target OG: 1.052
- 89% Weyermann floor-malted Bohemian Dark
- 6% Weyermann Caramunich II
- 4% Weyermann Carafa II
- 1% Weyermann CaraAroma
- 135°F for 30′
- Decoction 1: pull 10 qt thick mash* – rest at 148F for half a game of fetch, 156F for the other half, then boil for 20′ and return to main mash**
- 158°F for 20′
- Mashout at 170°F for 10′
* 1 quart of thick mash per pound of grain in the grist.
** We may not need to return entire volume of decoction to main mash in order to reach the next rest temp – watch the thermometer, YMMV, etc.
- Saaz (whole, 2% aa) at FWH to 20 IBU
- Saaz (whole, 2% aa) at 30′ to 7 IBU
- Saaz (whole, 2% aa) at 15′ to 1 IBU
- Chill to 45F, O2 and pitch with Wyeast 2782 Staro Prague
- Free rise up to 56-57F over approx. 48 hours.
- Once we hit TG and diacetyl-negative: fine, rack, crash cool and lager. Like you do.