Tonight is the session. This session is very timely for me. The subject is Sour Beer, and I just happen to have some sour beer activity to report tonight.
On January 1st, 2010 I made my first lambic. It was half barley and half wheat, made with old stinky hops and a variety of bacterial cultures and yeast (Brett B, Sour Mix, Lambic Blend, plus some US-05)
Since then, the beer has sat in my basement, covered in a brown paper bag, tucked in a corner, opened only a few times for flavor sampling.
Ever since the baby came a few months ago, brewing has been slow to say the least. So I’m facing a shortage. I might actually have to buy beer (gasp!). I feel like I’m the US Government about to default on my beer debt. I need a compromise to cover this gap.
So I sampled the lambic this week. It was pretty good. Rather barn-ish and overall funky. Sorta sour, bacterial I suppose. Not yet vinegar. I think that’s a good enough reason to take it out of the carboy and put it on tap. Especially given the circumstances.
For a while (right up to today) I was worried about where should I put it. If I kegged it, the keg and faucet could be bugged for life. If I bottled, the bacteria could keep working and make bottle bombs.
Ultimately, I kegged it. I’ve marked all the plastic I used in case I need to never use it for non-bacterial beer again. I’m using a picnic tap, which I’ll mark for Lambic and probably not reuse for normal beer. But then again I might try it to see if it really matters.
For now I’m just waiting for the beer to chill and carbonate before I can really dig into it. Then I’m sure it will save me from buying beer. Or at least it should minimize the amount of beer I need to buy.
Excerpt from brew day:
Boden (5 YO son): Daddy, you make beer because brewing beer is free, but buying beer costs money, right?
Daddy: Well brewing isn’t free, because the ingredients cost money and my time should be worth something, but it’s still a lot cheaper than buying it
Boden: But isn’t it a lot easier to just buy it?
Daddy: But brewing it is still a lot cheaper than buying it.
Boden: But all this stuff [the equipment needed to make beer] costs a lot of money probably
Daddy: Well I bought that a while ago. Look, I can make this IPA for $25 but if I bought this much IPA it would cost like $80.
Boden: … Daddy can I play on your phone?
My son Boden is roughly two-and-a-half. He’s not really a big fan of going to bed. I guess that’s probably normal. These days, 9:00 would be an improvement for him to be asleep. Even if he didn’t have a nap.
Normally it is tough for me to maintain a positive attitude when he comes back downstairs to join me in awakeness after he’s claimed to be tired and gotten the go-ahead to journey upstairs to the solace of the family bed for a little bit of comfort and hopefully sleeping.
Fortunately, tonight, I was feeling benevolent, and I managed to keep a smile on my face. Rather than get all stern about “eat this, then go lie down on the couch and go to sleep and I’m not letting you upstairs until you’re asleep!”, I just decided to hang out with him. Turns out he fell asleep on his own, barely asking to go back upstairs.
My son Boden is just over two years old. He’s having a hard time adjusting to the presence of a baby in the house. He’s actually pretty good about not hitting the baby or playing in any of his other overly rough ways with the baby. But he’s having a hard time with the nursing issue. He’s still nursing, and he’s not too happy about having to let the baby nurse whenever it wants to. Boden is not quite ready to understand that Angus can only nurse and sleep, and not much else right now. Boden is getting desparate for any breast milk he can get. This photo shows him trying to drink the milk right out of the pump. He’s even trying to use the pump handle to push it up into his mouth. You can’t see it in the photo, but his eyes are all bloodshot and he’s shaking really bad. He needs the milk! It looks like he’s trying to smoke a pipe of something. Like a breast milk bong. It’s not uncommon for him to take a cup of the milk from the pump and drink it. Yummy!
Speaking of drinking breast milk. I haven’t tried it yet, but get ready for Mother’s Milk Stout!
I’m back with another video tasting. This time, I have stepped up the personnel even more than before. I have virtually a posse tasting this beer with me. Actually, I’m the only one that manages to take the glass and put it to my lips to drink some, but the others look and smell with me. As you might expect, I have not only brought along Iris and Boden to the tasting, but Aimée has joined in, too. That’s right; both kids and the wife and the beer. It was a crowded camera lens tonight. Hopefully I pulled it off.
Last week’s video tasting still sits on the (hopefully un-reformatted) hard drive of my laptop which is currently in the capable hands of my nearest HP Service Center. In case you’re wondering, they’re waiting for a part and are projecting that I’ll have it back on 3/12/08. Complaining over.
Today being Thursday, I took up my favorite weekly beer tradition and did a video tasting. Another one with the kids. Including the kids is…interesting. It makes the whole thing a lot less predictable, and a lot more editing-intensive.
I have already written about Cherry Sparkles here before. It’s a cherry wheat I made in honor of my daughter. It has a little cherry syrup and a lot of food coloring gel to give it the slightest cherry aroma and flavor and plenty of pink color. The base beer, my American Wheat, is always a favorite amongst my friends, and I’ve put Strawberry in it in the past with pretty good results. Cherry Sparkles is beer-ish, fruity, and refreshing. It is my way of asking summer to come as quickly as possible. This beer is best enjoyed in warm weather above 70 degrees. So time to turn up the heat and crack open a Cherry Sparkles beer.
My son loves beer, almost as much as I do. He might be just over two years old, but he can appreciate that there is such a thing as beer. In fact, just about every beverage that he sees becomes classified as beer.
I naturally read a lot of beer books and magazines. Boden is always happy to point out the beers in them. And also the animals in the ads. He especially likes the Smuttynose Seal. Currently, I’m making my way through the MBAA Practical Handbook for the Specialty Brewer, Volume 2: Fermentation, Cellaring, and Packaging Operations. I came home today holding this book in my hands, and also holding a cordless drill battery docked in a charger.
It seems like we haven’t been out of the house in about seven weeks. Of course, we get out here and there, but I think that the kids have been about 85% in the house for a long time. It is starting to wear on us. Everything has become an occasion for crying, which has escalated lately to some sort of growl/scream/yell sound with a very angry face accompanying it.
Aimée figured out today’s magical solution to getting out of the house, which instantly cured the sourpuss complex. Friendly’s. I feel like I’m part of a Friendly’s commercial that I wouldn’t approve of. But I approve now.
SuperMelt, Fries, and Ice Cream, here we come!
I took a big chance tonight, by filming this while alone in the house with my two darling children. But rather than plunking them down in front of the TV, I invited them to join me in the video. We’ll see if you like the results.
I sampled a Thomas Hooker Hop Meadow IPA. This beer is from Connecticut, and from a brewery with a great reputation. The Thomas Hooker Liberator Doppelbock is one of the best Doppelbocks made in America. The BeerAdvocates love it, and so do I. I have also had a smattering of their other brews and enjoyed them very much – always well done interpretations of the style. Hop Meadow is a local reference, one of the main roads in Simsbury, the adjacent town from the brewery, is Hopmeadow Road. We also have the Devil’s Hopyard State Park. I guess Connecticut is the really old school Williamette Valley.
Last month was Doppelbock, and I had to cram hard for the final session post. I’d never been too into Doppelbocks, or even Bocks, or even lagers for that matter. But I dived in deep and made it happen. I learned a lot, not only from my own research, but from the work of others too. And now I love Doppelbocks.
Fortunately, I was well prepared for this month’s session.
My kids have been sick for a few days now. It’s rough sometimes when they get sick. They are always tired, but can’t sleep because they’re all stuffed up. And of course, tired kids are cranky kids. So we have been living with two overtired, sick, stuffy-nosed, cranky, TV-overdosed kids for three days. These three days feel like three weeks by now.
At the same time, the poor kids. Their coughs sound really…um…productive. Iris is complaining that her coughing hurts, and I feel bad for her. Boden’s nose is so runny, he’s rubbing it with his sleeve, and it hurts, too. Even those fancy vicks-infused tissues aren’t really helping.
It’s also kind of funny in a way, their dazed wandering around with constantly sleepy eyes. It’s admirable they manage to maintain a pretty decent overall mood. Sure, you can set them off without even doing anything at all, but at the same time, I’ve managed to deflect them long enough to write this post right now.
Oops, what was that crashing sound? Better go find out!