Bringin it back

This has been a busy year for me. I’ve been doing a lot of travelling for work and research that takes me away from the house. As a result, my brewing activity has been very limited, I’ve made no cheese, and hence no time to post.

At the same time, I have begun experimenting with bread making, and have discovered the wonderful world of No-knead bread. Not only does it satisfy the inherent laziness that comes from doing anything besides my research for work, but it also requires me to put the bread in a pot, thereby satisfying the title of this blog.

I’m not blogging about it today. I’m blogging about the new season.

I am about to take off on another trip. Then, three weeks later, yet another one. Back for five days then off for 16 days. After that, I hope not to travel for two months.

With a schedule like this, I have had everything but brewing on my mind. Yet at the same time, my supply of my go-to session beer, my “Pitt’s Special Fuggles Ordinary Bitter,” (named for my editor and fellow beer traveller who once asked me “what’s a fuggles?” and inspired a Fuggles-forward bitter) is down to the last few bottles. And not to mention summer is coming and I want to be able to have beer with friends on my newly rebuilt front porch. And my mom is turning 70 so there is requisite beer for the party… so much to do.

Last week I planned to brew on the weekend. As the weekend approached, I found myself busy with all sorts of other distractions that stopped me from getting motivated to prepare–didn’t have time to make a starter, to plan the brews, and couldn’t justify setting aside a day for brewing.

This, I suspect, was post-winter lethargy, mixed with my own neuroses. “you have work to do, so what are you doing screwing around with brewing?” argues my superego, adding “you’re getting fat and call your mother she misses you” for good measure.

But then yesterday, I was sitting around with about three hours to kill. I could try to do some work, but felt that would just be going through the motions. Solution? Brew.
Now you may catch some challenges to this decision. First: I had only three hours. Mashing, sparging, boiling, chilling takes longer than that. Even in the BYO magazine’s issue on having an efficient brew day, they got their time down to four hours.
Second: no yeast starter can create some off flavours often characteristic of “that home brew flavour.”
My solution was simple: brew a 3-gallon batch of gluten free wheat beer, using sorghum extract and dry yeast. The extract means no mashing, and they dry yeast provides far more than enough yeast for a batch that size (many say it provides enough for a 5 gallon batch).

Three hours later I was done! In the carboy: a gluten free wheat beer, which is my go-to summer front porch beer anyway (tastes as good as a regular wheat beer and my gluten intolerant friends can enjoy it too). Batch done, kitchen relatively cleaned, and off to other things.

But the best part was this. Halfway through the boil, as I was measuring the next hop charge, or maybe grinding the coriander and pepper (a little flavour experiment) I looked in the rolling boil, and got really excited. I started bouncing up and down, saying “I love brewing! God I love to brew.” I got my brewing mojo back.

Now, if I can only get the time to brew all those other beers I had been thinking of in the depths of winter, while on one of my many trips. That three weeks in May is gonna be busy.


About danmalleck

Medical historian and jack-of-all-trades curmudgeon. I tend to ramble about politics, social incivility, and our self-centred culture more interested in buying the next cool ringtone or LED TV than actively engaging in the sorts of discussions and issues that matter. The more opportunity we have to buy more stuff, the less concern there is, it seems, in politics, social justice and let's face it, basic human decency, unless those things actually can save us money or get us more things to show how awesome we are through displaying our material wealth. And I like to brew beer, make cheese, and put food in jars.
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