Decoction is a meandering path to take to arrive at a beer; you can get a fermentable wort (not the same wort, though) into the boiler with less time and effort, but I think it’s safe to say that for most homebrewers, this whole thing we do is about the journey at least as much as it is the destination. Continue reading →
Czech pilsner: the OG single malt-single hop beer. It’s caramelly, it’s malty, it’s hoppy, it’s a lager but it’s got some yeast character; it’s demanding to brew but it’s so, so easy to drink. It’s been too long since I’ve made one. Continue reading →
Picture it, citizens: there I was, minding my business, bench-trialing and blending some more- and less-aged sour beer into a semblance of a whole, when the imp of the perverse called an audible. Continue reading →
Truth in advertising – deep down, I really only truly love a fruit beer if it’s also sour or wild or Brett-influenced, something more than just a fruit beer. That’s just the way Crom made me.
Which isn’t to say I can’t appreciate a well-made straight-ahead fruit beer, but, sour or not, I do feel that the fruit should reflect the beer’s provenance – the fruit adds another layer of reality to beer as an agrarian product and an extension of its time, people, and place.
Every great meadmaker I’ve ever met, from Ken Schramm to Curt Stock, has espoused the use of high quality, local fruit when making melomel, and that philosophy translates very well when brewing sour and wild ales.
Giving it both barrels: five gallons of 2011 sour (really, really sour … plus dark and oaky) red comes off the wood and onto 5 pounds of rhubarb, five gallons of Basecamp Sour (alcoholic fermentation complete, sir) begins its oak nap.
Like ships in the night, these two separate but similar beers pass each other so closely but never quite manage to hook up. They would be so good together, but it’s like they just can’t see it because they’re at such different stages in their lives. Will they ever meet again and, you know … consummate? I hope so – I like brewing stories to have a happy ending.
One of the great things about a fiber-rich diet is that it affords daddy some quality reading time in his special office, and this morning some muesli induced me to finally start digging in to Mitch Steele’s IPA (that’s an acronym for something, but I’m not far enough along in the book) and came across this nugget regarding (probable) brewing practices for the nascent style in the 18th century:
Hops were added during the boil and were often only allowed to boil for 30 minutes before being pulled out and replaced with another charge. It is cited in many brewing texts of the period that brewers believed that boiling hops for more than 30 minutes extracted rough and harsh flavors and bitterness.
Kind of a philosophical antecedent to the whole late-addition and hopbursting approach – not directly analogous and probably with not quite the same results in the kettle, but still predating the 21st century craft brewing “hoppy not bitter” mantra by a good 250 years. Nothing new under the sun.
Occasionally hair sieves were used to strain the hops from the wort.
Maybe there’s a market for follicle-based hop-separation technology in modern home- and craft brewing? Somebody try that out, let me know how it goes.