St. Patrick’s DIY

Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit, denizens!

Aye, tis a grand day to be Irish. Or partially Irish. Or just someone who likes to diminish an entire ethnicity down to one stereotypical pastime.

Sláinte, indeed.

Regardless of your reasons for celebrating the day, please stay safe. As for me, the sudden return of winter dictates that I shall stay within the warm, dry confines of my lair for any celebrations. That’s fine with me, because I have the perfect brew to mark the occasion.

[Loba Tangent: I also fail to spell occasion correctly 95 percent of the time I write it. I don’t know why. Thank goodness for spell check.]

Remember back during Febrewary, how I returned to my ritual of brewing my own beer on a work holiday? Well, turns out that the prep schedule was such that my White House honey porter was officially ready to crack open for consumption this past Saturday. Rather than drink it then, I decided to give it a couple extra days and celebrate today with my very own beer.

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Look at that beer, denizens. Even though it’s not present in this photo, this porter poured out with a fizzy accompaniment of froth that dissipated to lines of carbonation crawling up through its beautiful carnelian center. I took a backlit photo, just so you all could see this gorgeous color:

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Also, look at how clear it is! I’ve finally gotten the bottling correct!

To be fair, even though this is supposedly a porter, that color, the mouth feel, and the taste are all more indicative of a red ale than what I would typically attribute to a porter. I wonder if perhaps the age of the recipe lends itself to this less-than-modern-day-porter conveyance of flavors and feel. Or maybe I simply didn’t steep the malt mix long enough. Not sure.

Whatever the reason, I hesitate to praise this as a porter. I also kind of wish I’d refrigerated it before drinking because, again, it’s not really a “serve at room temperature” beer. Then again, it’s cold enough in the house that this time, “room temperature” was still nice and cool.

Beyond the points I’ve already mentioned, this porter has a beautiful bouquet. It’s wonderfully malty with a frisson of honeyed sweetness. That honey plays through into every other aspect of this beer, with a soft, smooth mouth feel and a delightful flavor that remains on the safe side of sweet without toppling over into saturation. I do wish that it had a bit more carbonation, because if you don’t drink it quickly enough (and I honestly didn’t want to drink it too quickly because it was that tasty), it does start to go a bit flat.

In other words, Irish you all could taste this beer.

Ha. I see what I did there, and I LOLed.

Seriously, I am supremely pleased with this latest homebrew adventure. Northern Brewer wins as a new supplier for my homebrew dabblings. I have their Caribou Slobber kit downstairs right now, awaiting brewing, and then there are a couple other kits that I would love to try as I get more and more confident with this new process. All that being said, I would not be averse to giving this honey porter another go once I finish tackling these new flavors.

Next Round’s On Me…

So for my birthday this year, my cousin of culinary cunning gave me the gift of beer…with a twist. She gave me a beer making kit. Tricksy little cousin, luring me into the scary world of kitchen stuff.

Actually, it was almost as if she’d read my geek-warped mind. See, all summer long, I’d been reading about Wil Wheaton’s adventures in beer-making and thinking that it sounded like something that I wouldn’t mind trying. However, my life being what it is, I was going in about 50 bajorillion (yeah, I did just write that…what’s it to you?) different directions, and none of them led me toward researching my own kit.

Enter my awesome cousin and her frightening mind-reading abilities (more frightening for her, I’m sure, since it was the detritus of my brain she was stuck sifting through). Not only was it my very own kit, but it was chocolate maple porter. Could that sound any tastier? My heart might bleed stout, but porters are a strong second in my list of preferred beers, and this particular flavor combination not only sounds perfect, it’s also recently received the Wheaton Seal of Awesome.

It took me a little while to gather the required utensils that I was missing (and a little bit longer to gather enough courage to finally just dive right in and hold on tight), but today was the day, denizens. Today was Beer Making Day at the lair.

And so we begin...

The instructions claimed that making your own beer was as simple as making oatmeal. Wil Wheaton swears it’s true, too, and I know I can trust him. Why? Because he was in Starfleet, and they never lie (well, you know, except when they’re pulling tricks in their shuttles and end up killing one of their team…then they might lie a little…but never about beer).

Beer Oatmeal: Part of a Balanced Binge Breakfast

Is it really that simple? Yes. Kind of. A very time-consuming, super-fragrant, slow cooking oatmeal that you can’t eat once you’re finished. But that, if you didn’t uck-fay it up-ay while making it, will taste awesome when you finally get to drink it.

A dark brew takes form...

Once you’re finished with all the stirring and boiling and simmering and thermometering and pouring and straining and cooling…well, then you reach the fermentering, which requires a funnel, a strainer, a jug, and a steady hand. I had most of those things…enough to get the dark brew into the jug, pitch the yeast, shake it all up and then rig the fermenter:

I'm only going to ask you se7en times, Detective...what's in the box?

This is my brew’s new home for the next two weeks while the yeast works its magic with my brew. See? I built it a little home and everything, to keep it cool and dark:

Built to code...

Once the two weeks are up, then comes the bottling, followed by two more weeks of cool, dark waiting before I can fridge up my beer and taste the spoils of my brewing victory. This also means that I have a month to come up with a name and maybe even design a label.

Stay tuned, denizens…soon There Will Be Beer.