Thursday, May 8, 2014

Brewing is Meditative, and Fun

I'm brewing a "West Coast IPA" this evening.  It's supposed to be pretty hoppy.  I hope it tastes something like Baxter Brewing's Stowaway IPA, my current favorite beer.  Mmm, yummy.

So between waiting for things to warm up or hop additions, I like to let my mind wonder about brewing.  Styles that sound interesting.  Projects I'd like to do.  A blog I should write...   Sometimes it's just free association.  One thing that crossed my mind was the enjoyment of brewing.  I didn't brew much last year and only once so far this year.  I'm only now realizing what I've been missing.  Extract brewing is pretty easy.  Warm water to 150 F, put the adjuncts in a brew sock and toss it in, wait 20 min., warm to near boil, add extract, wait for hotbreak, stir, add bittering hops, wait, add flavor hops & Irish Moss, wait, add aroma hops, wait, run wort chiller, wait, transfer to fermentation bucket, add yeast, put the lid on and wait a week.  Not much to it really.  Besides the wonderful smells of malt and hops, the waiting gives you time to think.  I like to think about brewing beer.  It's very relaxing.  

It's easy to get caught up in the challenges of brewing historical ales.  Finding good sources, redacting the recipe, figuring out unit conversions, considering ingrediants, process, equipment, etc. It can really pysch you out.  All the project challenges seem to stack up and before you know it, brewing becomes a burden.  You start to avoid it.  It hangs over your head like something you have to do.  You forget to enjoy brewing.  I'm beginning to see the wisdom in pacing yourself.  Brew something modern then something historic.  Remember, brewing is fun.  It's fun to make an easy, yummy beer and share it with friends.  Relax, don't worry, have a homebrew.  (Thanks Charlie.)

Friday, April 25, 2014

BrewU 2014

Yep, you read it right.  BrewU 2014.  There was no cell reception at the BrewU 2013 site and I didn't have the best experience there.  Major wake-up call to improving my documentation.  Not that it was bad.  I just needed to document more and include more references.  To be honest, I lost interest and momentum with further research and projects.  Repeated some previous brew projects and made some  modern beers, but not much else.  But now I have committed myself to teaching a class and panelling a brewing project with the Kingdom brewing masters.  Nothing like getting your butt in gear with project deadlines!

So I'm on my way to BrewU 2014 in the Barony of Stonemarche with Baroness Sylvia and Lady Elspeth.  I'm super excited that Lady Elspeth is going because she have been a member of our local SCA group, and brewer, for a long time.  Life has been in the way of her playing in the last few years.  It's great to catch up on brewing and life in general. There are some great people in the SCA. She is certainly one of them.

So I'm leading a discussion on the Tudor Monistary Farm ale episode compared to modern brewing ingredients and techniques.  It has been something I've always wanted to thoroughly investigate anyway.  I'll post the notes next week, after the class.  There were a few surprises that are worth further study.

For the brewing project, I went with Potus Ypocras from Curye on Inglish (1390).  Scaling proportions, ingrediants, and specific preparation were a challenge.  It was fun to dig in and learn everything I could about hippocras.  Doing the research was more work than making the brew, which is frequently the case in period brewing.  Again, I'll post the work next week.  Hopefully I'll have had a much better experience.

Preparing for BrewU was a bit of work, but worth the effort. I hope others get something out of it too.