Thursday, September 20, 2007

Well-stocked larder

Brewing season is nigh here at FSB. The summers are bloody hot: 90+ days, often only cooling to 60 F by midnight. That sort of climate plays hell with my "fermentation room" (the hallway closet), which can get up over 75 F unless the swamp cooler is running all day. So I get a serious case of Autumnal Anticipation during the Dog Days. This weekend is the Autumnal Equinox, and the cool mornings are announcing Fall's imminent arrival. I note that FSB's larders have over 80 lbs. of malts and 30 oz. of hops. I bought a full sack (55 lbs.) of Pale Malt from Williams's Brewing in San Leandro, a reliable outfitter, and a 15-lb. sampler (1 lb. each of 15 different grains!) from my organic brew heroes, 7 Bridges of Santa Cruz. William's charged me 16 bucks to ship the $35 sack of malt, which I thought was outrageous, but the organic malts at 7 Bridges are more than twice as expensive. I wish the organic stuff was cheaper, but I will likely buy a sack for my December break, as I like to make my annual St. Patrick's Day Stout an all-organic brew. 7 Bridges does sell full pounds of whole hops for only $15 once they are over a year old. I got some German-grown Perle this time. Last year I got a pound of Belgian-grown organic Goldings. The stuff is foil-sealed and nitrogen-flushed: the hops were beautiful and amazingly fresh and aromatic. I had fine luck with them. I keep them frozen and they last a surprisingly long time. My next brew will be a Rye-PA, and I will try the no-sparge method. It will require two mashes, increasing the length of my brew day, but I want to get rid of that slow, clumsy rinsing step, and get rid of the astringent flavors it seems to add. I'm looking for richer malt flavor and fuller body in my beers this fall.

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