Friday, December 31, 2010

Elevenses Ale

In honor of year twenty-eleven I have christened my New Year's Eve brew Elevenses Ale. "Elevenses" is British English and refers to a late-morning break for tea and biscuit that happens around eleven o'clock. According to Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma), "elevenses" was also used in the United States in the early 19th century to mean a pre-lunch dose of corn whiskey. Apparently the glut of corn (sound familiar?) led to an abundance of cheap corn whiskey and it was commonplace for workers to have a snort instead of a coffee break! It seems to me that sort of thing should be encouraged. To hell with "productivity." I think sloth and idleness should make a comeback. Unfortunately today was a busy day for yours truly--it was freezing cold (high of 24 ºF) and I had to hustle to get a batch brewed while the sun was shining. I made a thinner mash using 16 quarts of liquor for the 15 pounds of grain and after an hour at 152-154 ºF I added 12 quarts of 170 ºF sparge water and gave it all a good stir. I re-circulated 10 quarts and then ran all of it off into the kettle. I topped it up to 28 Liters and boiled for 70 minutes with one one-hour hop addition of one ounce of 9.9% whole Northern Brewer. The yield was almost 20 Liters and it registered 11.5 % Brix on the refractometer. I put it down as 1.046-47 OG. I pitched a pack of Safale-05 (formerly -56). This, I'm guessing, is the classic "American Ale" or "Chico" strain. I think I'll have a big fat glass of primo 21st-century corn whiskey (bourbon) tonight at eleven o'clock to celebrate the New Year and my new Elevenses Ale.

HAPPY 2011!!

prid. Kal. Ian.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New ho-rye-zons

I've decided to make a pale ale with the rye malt. The grain bill will be 15 pounds total and I'll use the "first-runnings/no-sparge" method I've recently adopted. This afternoon I milled two pounds of rye, a half-pound of 60 ºL crystal, a half-pound of Victory malt, and 12 pounds of 2-row. Tomorrow I will cook up batch number 174 and come up with a name for it. I've also got these fresh Northern Brewer hops and I think I'll just have to use them.

This afternoon I also went to the local hardware store and swapped out my five-pound carbon dioxide cylinder for a fresh one. I've got one of the 2-1/2 gallon kegs of the stout left and I tapped it with the new gas. I'm drinking it as I type. Mmmm-mmm, it's good!

Did I mention that the San Francisco Giants are the World Fucking Champs? No? Get this: the San Francisco Giants are the World Fucking Champs. I think I'll drink to that. Some World Series Stout, if you please.

a.d. II Kal. Ian.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Re-stocking the larder

Stopped at the Medford store Grains, Beans & Things yesterday and picked up some goodies. I'm very interested in rye malts and rye beers, and I hope to add of couple of pounds rye to my next batch. There was some dark (roasted) rye malt as well, and I think I might try to flavor a stout with it. Speaking of stouts, I'm a big fan of dehusked dark malts like Carafa as they impart lovely black color and a nice roast flavor with a little less risk of adding a bitter astringency. Flaked barley always seems to help with the head and mouthfeel on a stout and I grabbed a pound of that. I rounded things out with the usual 60 ºL crystal and some black patent which are useful in lots of beers. I can never pass up Northern Brewer hops and I picked up a 2-oz. package of that as well. Full sacks of domestic 2-row pale malt--including organic--jammed the narrow aisles, and there were at least three dozen bins of specialty grains. If you brew anywhere in the State of Jefferson I'd suggest you drop Bob an email ( and see what he's got in stock.

a.d. III Kal. Ian.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

World Series Stout tapped!

The Giants won the World Series on the the 1st of November, the traditional start of the winter season in the old Celtic Calendar ("Samhain"). The December Solstice--our first day of winter--would thus be Midwinter for the Celts. In honor of all those holidays I tapped the World Series Stout today. It was a mini-catastrophe at first, as I sprayed beer all over the fridge before finally getting the fittings properly attached. Eventually I got things all cleaned up and poured a nice, tall pitcher of the lovely black brew. It was smooth and delicious with the rich malty sweetness that the "first runnings" produces. The carbonation level was perfect, the bubbles were small, dense, and creamy, forming a firm, thick head. We drank World Series Stout and watched Game 1 of the World Series again. What fun!