Santa's Little Helpers

Sunday, November 25, 2007

You know, I've always suspected that Santa's elves were beer drinkers. Trouble-makers and rabble rousers they are, like any good beer drinker. They thumb their noses at authority. And this picture I think is proof:


Well this year, my wife and I are putting together the "home-made" style Chritsmas presents. You know...one kid...twins...don't know what the Hell to buy anyone...so we opted for the home-made gift. It's effort, it's love, and it covers for the fact that we have no idea what to buy anyone.

So while Santa has to deal with the helpers pictured above, this "Santa's" helpers look like this:

This year, we're giving the gift of beer. And Santa's little helpers are a fine English Ale Yeast compliments of White Labs.

The problem I faced is that we are just under 2 weeks before the first Christmas party with family (yeah, we start early). Thus, I needed to brew a beer that ferments and matures quickly and that has enough mild flavors to cover for any "young" or immature flavors. I was thinking a British Brown Ale.

The recipe:
6.6 pounds muntons dark plain malt extract
1/2 pound crystal malt (I used Crystal 60L)
1/4 pound black patent

Now here's where that hops shortage post we put up is affecting brewing recipes. I wanted to use 2 oz. of Fuggles for the bittering and 1/2 oz. Fuggles for the aromatics...but Fuggles are unavailable until at least January. And this is from a homebrew shop that' part of a brewery that has a hop contract with suppliers. Yikes. But, they did have UK East Kent Goldings. The difference between the two is .2% alpha acid, so the difference is not that huge. The biggest difference is some mild floral scent from the Kent versus a hint of spiciness from the Fuggle. No biggie.

I added 4 tsp of gypsum for yeast health and WLP005 White Labs British Ale Yeast (Perfect for malty beers). Less than 12 hours later, I've got a healthy fermentation cooking, a thick 3-inch yeast cake on top and things are moving along just fine.

I did this without Chief Assistant Brew Master Joel. This is not something I will do again. Not only is the extra set of hands a huge benefit, but Joel knows what's up. His sage wisdom like "dude, you realize that boiling water can melt plastic, right?" and "hey, this works a lot better when you put the funnel actually over the bucket, dude" are actually the reason that my beers turn out as good as they do. But Joel was somewhere else in the country this past weekend, so I was forced to go it alone. I barely made it. A spill, a slosh, some melted equipment and a missing rubber bung later, the beer is in the fermenter. Joel, I can't do it without you. You....complete me.

So Santa's little helpers are fermenting away. Hopefully, this year's Christmas beer turns out how I hope it will and is a pleasant drinking experience.

If not, I blame Joel.

8 comments:

Sopor 11:13 AM  

Wow, it sounds like I need Joel around for my brew days!

Smitty 11:30 AM  

Dude. You can't go wrong with Joel. Everyone should have a Joel. He brews beer, he's observant AND he's a lawyer. Triple threat.

Joel,  1:50 PM  

While I was in Minnesota visiting my sister, brother-in-law and their new little girl I felt, ever so slightly, a tremble in the (brew) force. It wasn't like Alderan getting blown up by the Death Star or anything, just a minute shiver, a small plea for assistance, like one lone voice calling out in the night... "JESUS TITTY-FUCKING CHRIST!! WHERE THE FUCKING HELL IS FUCKING JOEL WHEN I FUCKING NEED HIM!?!? FUCK!!!"

Then... silence.

The meaning was lost on me at the time.

Smitty 4:24 PM  

Wow. You almost got, verbatim, what I uttered. Loudly. So not much of an utter. You even said "fuck" as many times as I did.

You know me so well.

the infamous roger 5:32 PM  

Dry Irish Stout is an excellent quick turnaround beer. I've gone from brewing to drinking in a week (kegging, of course).

Sounds like you have a good Joel.

Rickey Henderson 11:40 AM  

Where the shit are the new posts? This period of inactivity displeases Rickey.

Smitty 3:30 PM  

Rickey:

Please accept our apologies. We have been more sober than usual. It requires a degree of inebriation to post on this blog. We have all been inordinately busy lately and have not had the time to have the 4- or 8-beer lunches it requires to post.

We will endeavor in the future to take the time it takes to do this blog right.

-Smitty

Rickey Henderson 3:40 PM  

Ah, Rickey sees that new content has been added. This is a most excellent development.

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