Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Summer Without Tomatoes

Got some loose ends to tie up before I head off yet again to do more summery stuff and avoid responsibilities at home. The Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival is a-croonin' my name, so my brother Will and I will be driving the three hours to upstate New Yawhk for four days of some mandolin-chopping, banjo-busting, gospel-yowling goodness. I don't play bluegrass, and I'm not really sure how I got into it (I believe my dad went through a big bluegrass phase, influenced by his brother), but summer just feels empty without a hot few hot summer days of raw, live bluegrass. And sharing those days with crowds of tank-topped, straw-hatted, lobsterbacked sun soakers makes it known I'm not alone. Mmm... I can smell the bloomin' onions right now...

Lessee, last weekend was the 4th. I spent some quality "bro-time" then, too, when Will visited and helped me brew a Belgian Dubbel for his wedding celebration in August. He likes roastier, maltier dark beers like stouts and porters, but since I'm having a great time exploring Belgians I compromised with him and chose the darker-colored dubbel. They're typically heavier on the alcohol than most beers and have flavor profiles that include notes of raisins, figs, or other dark, dried fruits. I threw in an extra quarter-pound of chocolate wheat malt mostly for color, though I'm hoping it might add a touch of coffee to go with the fruitiness. On the eve of that national holiday we got quite a special show. At least three of our neighbors had their own private fireworks displays, which meant that we also had three private fireworks displays. One was right next door, another over Lake Warren, and another through some trees over yonder. It made me wonder... if I can see three fireworks shows with my feet planted in East Alstead, of all places, how many friggin' shows are there across the country? How much money do people spend on this stuff?? I'd blow a couple thou' on Louis Vuitton instead...

Speaking of designer products, I just opened my first Belgian golden ale and, boy, slap a Sean John label on that stuff! It's been conditioning for only a week, but I couldn't wait. It's certainly not carbonated enough (not sure if it ever will get the carbonation it needs; we skimped out on priming sugar since I thought the beer wasn't fermented enough when we bottled and I didn't want the bottles to explode), but it's the best tasting beer I've brewed. A couple more weeks in the bottle and some slight green-appley flavors should mellow out, the fizziness should improve, and I'm hoping a bit of the "hot", fusel alcohol bite will disappear. I'll be brewing the second commissioned wedding batch today. It'll be an India Pale Ale, but I think I'll call it a WePA in honor of the espousal.

Couple more things on the beer front. First, if you have even the slightest inkling to start homebrewing yourself (... er... not... I mean... don't jump into the brewpot) and are up in the New Hampshire region at all, you should check out the Kettle To Keg homebrew shop in Pembroke. Jason, the owner, is a real nice guy and has also offered to contact some brewers across the pond as possible stops during my trip. Also, last night I stopped by the public zoning and planning board meetings for East Alstead's future microbrewery. Tim Roettiger is the man with the plan, and the plan was approved with only a couple changes that need to be made to the design. He's planning on building a small shelter to house the equipment and will brew less than 500 barrels (15,500 gallons) per year and switch the operation to maple syrup production in the spring. Congratulations Tim, can't wait!

1 comment:

  1. I just popped a bottle of the first belgian, and after 3 or 4 weeks, this baby has gone through puberty! It's tangibly high in alchohol, but with a nice, powerful fig-newton aftertaste that helps round out the burn. I like it more this time around, but will definitely wait a few more weeks for a bit more carbonation to develop. Well done on this recipe, Owen.