Strange Brew

Friday, November 07, 2008

On election Day, I was a nervous wreck. I was also sick of the talking heads. Starting right away in the morning, it was all conjecture about what was going to happen, and the inane guessing game lasted until the polls closed. Then it got worse.

I woke up, took the Smith Herd to daycare, went to work for an hour, and left. I went home, and brewed beer.
It allowed me to relax, take some time, and most importantly, to not obsess over election coverage.

I brewed two beers that will largely be used for Christmas presents this year: a British brown ale and a maple syrup porter.

I didn't do an all-grain batch this time, as when I was purchasing ingredients, I was unsure of the weather. I figured it would be crappy, so I didn't want to brew outdoors or in my garage. Thus, I bought extracts and then some specialty grains, which you see pictured here. I ran some 60L Crystal malt and some black patent for the porter, and some 60L Crystal malt and some chocolate malt for the brown.

Now this may seem backwards, but the extract I used for the brown ale extract was a dark liquid extract, and the porter was an amber liquid extract (dark was Muntons, amber was Coopers). The brown ale is a recipe I have brewed over and over, and it is in a place where I am really quite happy with the flavors. The side benefit is that it is a huge starting gravity (will get it from home...forgot my recipe and stuff...will update later) and has flavors that taste mature pretty quickly, so this one will be ready on about 2 weeks. It just gets better as it ages for a few extra weeks beyond that.

The porter, however, is a brand new recipe. I made-up a basic brown porter recipe just so it would be something simple. We'll see if it came out okay. On top of it, I added a quart of maple syrup, right at the end of the boil to crash it (thanks for the advice, Sopor). I got the maple syrup from ATK-regular(ish) Christian, who told me in no uncertain terms to "not use it on your fucking pancakes." That really left me now choice but to brew with it. I am hoping the syrup will add a little hint of flavor with a nice increase in ABV given that maple syrup is liquid sugar! However, with using only a quart, I am not sure I am going to get much flavor out of it. I might just get the alcohol boost. That said, when I bottle these beers, I will use corn sugar as always for the brown ale, but I may use maple syrup again for bottling the porter (I found a little chart for how much syrup to use for priming bottles in Randy Mosher's Radical Brewing).

Some random shots. These are fresh-grown Cascade hops from Michigan State. Having an agricultrual University a few miles from home is kinda nice! I used Cascade for the porter, for the bittering as well as aromatic. Loves me some Cascade.

I used some Fuggles (boil) and Styrian Goldings (aroma) for the brown ale.
Throwing whole hops into a boil is fun, but filtering them back out when I move the beer into the fermenter is a giant pain in the ass. It's why I prefer pellets. But boy, whole hops in a boil looks pretty!
And here's the finished products. I was aerating the wort and waiting a bit for it to hit room temperature before I pitched the yeast. Brown ale is pictured first, then the porter.

When I chilled the wort, I use a copper coil chiller. I stuped-out for a minute and got the wort down to a nice 70 degrees, forgetting that I was about to add a few gallons of cold tap water. Duh. So instead of waiting for the beer to cool a little more, I had to wait for it to warm up! No big deal. The yeast is pitched (WLP 002 English Ale Yeast), and a quick check in my cabinets under my bar this morning showed healthy fermentation roiling away. Can't wait!


Bob 10:15 AM  

These beers need names to mark the occasion.

Smitty 10:49 AM  

The British brown ale, since I've brewed it several times and is where I want it to be, is called Prince Charles' Demise.

I want to taste the porter first and make sure it is nearing where I want it to be. I don't name my beers until they're "successful."

Believe me, bob, there will be a blog post asking for names.

steves 10:55 AM  

That porter sounds really interesting. I am very intrigued.

Bob 11:00 AM  

Believe me, bob, there will be a blog post asking for names.

Awesome. Maybe we should name one after Governor Smitty.

Smitty 11:15 AM  

Governor Smitty

Dude. I'm a wreck right now. Hilarity ensued last night.

My favorite quote for the evening: "at what point do we mention to these lovely ladies that we have kids and drive minivans?"

B Mac 11:26 AM  

Damn I miss Catharsis. Good times.

Bob 11:56 AM  

My favorite quote for the evening: "at what point do we mention to these lovely ladies that we have kids and drive minivans?"

Other great quotes:

"If they only knew we worked for the government, so we have no money..."

"If they only knew we have unaffordable mortgages and have no money..."

"If they only knew I lived in a one room apartment and have no money..."

Bob 11:58 AM  

My favorite quote for the evening: "at what point do we mention to these lovely ladies that we have kids and drive minivans?"

One more:

"At what point to we tell them that Smitty is NOT a likely candidate for Governor of the state of Michigan."

B Mac 12:40 PM  

Who were these impressionable young ladies... and did you give them my number?

George 1:40 PM  

Seems like more than beer has been brewing in Michigan....

Smitty 1:40 PM  

and did you give them my number?

No. They were MSU students. If I would have said "hey...let me give you the number of this dude I know in SOUTH BEND at NOTRE DAME" they would have walked away from us laughing. Bob and I were walking on thin ice already, what with being "ancient" and "in suits" and all.

Bob 1:43 PM  

and did you give them my number?

Don't you sister and mom already have your number?

Smitty 1:43 PM  

Seems like more than beer has been brewing in Michigan

Nothing but the joy of messing with co-eds' heads. I'm 34, married, have 3 kids and drive a minivan. A pretty college co-ed bought me a drink. I almost burst into tears.

Sopor 3:36 PM  

You lucky man Smitty! Hell I'm 24 and I would still bust into tears if a pretty college co-ed bought me a drink!

That Maple Porter sounds great! I like the idea of using Maple Syrup for bottling too.

Man you're givin' me the itch! I want to brew me some beer!!

Mike 9:53 PM  

Since we're confessin' and all, I'm (almost) 41, I have no kids, I don't drive a minivan, and pretty co-eds buying me a drink would cause me to burst, though I'm not sure tears would be involved.

And now, back to our regular programming . . .

Tiffany,  9:59 PM  

At some point I am going to need to hear the rest of the story from the rumor that I started about Smitty being the next Governor of the State of Michigan. I'm glad I was able to be a part of the hilarity that I'm pretty sure ensued. :)

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