I am lucky enough to be able to enjoy over a week of paid time off between Christmas and New Year’s. With such an extended stay at home, it’s almost a given that there should be a time to brew somewhere in there. As it turns out, the holidays are busy times full of seeing family and stuff like that. But in the end, I managed to carve out a perfect brewing day – January 1st. I still haven’t decided if it was Brew Year’s Day or New Beer’s Day, but either way the pun is bad.
I have had these bacterial cultures in my fridge for a while, and I decided to finally put them to work. I made a lambic. Half malted wheat and half pale malt, with a handful of what we dubbed “bunny hops” boiled for 60 minutes. I skipped the whole raw wheat turbid mash four hour boil thing, and went pretty standard with an infusion mash around 148°F for this one.
For all the beer I’ve consumed, I’m still really new to the world of wild fermentation. I have had a few Lambics here and there, and I generally have a hard time finishing them, and when it comes down to it, I just love a massively hoppy IPA or an insanely black Stout any day.
But I keep trying, and I had read somewhere that Orval has “classic Brettanomyces character”. I remember trying one of these a year or so ago, and liking it. I figured it was time to give this one another shot. At over $4.00 a bottle, it’s something that you sometimes like to think twice about taking a chance on. But you only live once, and that $4.00 wasn’t going to spend itself.
So here I sit at the end of the glass. The gigantic rocky head still exists in a smaller form at the bottom of the glass. I have a subtle tang feeling and a distinct dry chalky feeling (almost dusty) in my mouth, as well as a smile on my face from the gentle aroma of subtle sourness that is associated with these bacterially infected beers.
I found the smell of the beer to be nicely brett-ish, but the flavor to be somewhat lacking in comparison to the smell. But it was still a tasty beer that had me wanting for another. Now this is progress. I wish the beer was more acidic. I think I might be ready to get another bottle of real Gueuze and go for the all-out lip-puckering acidic-sour experience again. Maybe some more Cuvée René? Or a Cantillon Gueuze 100% Lambic? Or even Rodenbach Grand Cru? And I just got my hands on a bottle of Ommegeddon that I am considering holding on to for a little while before I dig in. And I just might go pick up a bunch more Orval to let them sit around for another five years, until they reach their “best by” date of 2013!
This week, being Christmas and all started out to be a pretty slow beer news week. Then all of a sudden, I have fifty items on my RSS feed today that I still haven’t read. So I guess it’s back to normal now. There were several nice and sentimental pieces about how nice family and Christmas are, too many to list them all (I actually don’t have all the links might be the more correct statement) but it has been nice to reflect along with everyone about the beery positives that have happened this year.
The thing that made me drop my jaw and get all giddy all over was a cool video that Stan Hieronymus pointed out over at Appellation Beer. Allagash christened their coolship. (Here’s a page that includes picture of the coolship at Cantillon.) According to Stan, they made this beer about a month ago, and searching the internet found really only links into Stan’s blog. Even Allagash themselves aren’t really talking about it on their web site (or at all from what I could find). An awesome job by Stan of digging up this video and posting it for the rest of us to see!
Wednesday is Beer Appreciation day for this blog. Today I am going to bend that definition a bit, and I am going to write about a beery thing that I appreciate. There’s nothing like a great beer store to get me all giddy inside. Even better is finding a bunch of uncommon beers that you have had on your list and not seen at other great beer stores.