27 May 2008

Perm's Brew Pick for May

Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale

No frills, no gimmicks, just a steady familiar brew this time around. It is probably worth noting that this is my second Pick involving the Samuel Smith Old Brewery, Tadcaster. (See January 2008 for the previous entry.)

For me, Sammy S's Nut Brown is a classic among classics. This is the stuff of which (English) legends are made. It is unassuming, the opposite of brash, reliable, trustworthy, good for the long haul, friendly, cheerful, and agreeable with an array of foods.

Essentially, this beer is akin to how the English would like to think of themselves as a people.

It definitely has that peculiar Yorkshire-water minerality -- which, as Garrett Oliver (and others) will tell you, is highly prized by the local beer aficionados. After all, the town of Tadcaster (whence it cometh) sits atop a limestone-rich water table. It's a bit weird, but I can see why it's prized. It lends a certain mineral-water refreshingness to the brew, to be sure, sort of a beer version of San Pellegrino.

In the glass, it bears a lovely copper-brown color with the trademark elusively-thin English head. The nose is slight, but the careful taster will be patient with it and be rewarded with rich caramel, roasted malt, hay, and subdued-yet-holding-their-own hops. On the tongue, the mineral quality shows up full force, along with a nice ale-style fruitiness (not too strong) and pleasant malt roundness. The palate is dry, crisp, and the paragon of refreshing. One could, even at 5% ABV, drink it all night.

With food, the Nut Brown is fairly catholic and generous: anything from a pork loin to roast beef to grilled chicken to cheddar cheese to mild curry to (what I had) trout dip on toasts.

It's also excellent all by itself.

26 May 2008

Back from Asheville

May 21-23 the Missus and I enjoyed our third wedding anniversary with a trip to our favorite local urban area, Asheville. As one might infer, beer was involved. Here are some of the cerevisial highlights:

I. The Bier Garden.
Excellent beer destination in Asheville! Right downtown, across from Malaprop's Bookstore.
Roomy -- if anything, it's TOO roomy, lending a certain reclaimed-retail-mall-space feel that one might not want in their watering hole of choice. However, the bar proper is cozy and just-slightly-Victorian-enough to be inviting, and there's no fear of bumping elbows and spilling your pint. Game room in the back, nice clean restrooms, and lots of European football (the one with the round ball) on the telly.

The bartender was one of the most friendly, engaging, energetic I've seen recently. Bravo. The selection -- well, it's the (technically) widest tap-and-bottle selection in town. What's to complain about? We were also there (who knew??) on "Irish night" -- special prices on Smithwicks and Guinness pints, as well as on Jamesons! Prices (even without the Irish specials) were, for the most part, quite reasonable. The high-gravities seemed a bit silly ($11 for a Chimay Blue? Give me a break!) but most of the standard session draughts and bottles where quite reasonably marked. And, for the record, fun glassware.

We didn't try the food, but the table next to us had some good-looking snacks on their plates.We're definitely going back, and definitely to try out the food menu next time.

I tried two brews at the Garden, which, ironically enough, weren't that stellar (but that wasn't the bar's fault -- although perhaps with the Pisgah it might have been). Sara fared much better: a ($2.50!!!) Smithwick's draught, and a Dogfish Head 90 Minute (also on draught!)

Here were my goes:

1. Pisgah Organic American Pale Ale (1 Litre pour)

First off, perhaps getting a litre-size was not the best idea. I was so impressed that the establishment offered the litre option for the taps (and at the prices!) that I felt like I couldn't pass up the opportunity. Just not sure if this was the best brew to go with.I also must say that I have been a fan of Pisgah brewing for some time. (link to earlier post) Organic or no, this particular offering is probably my least favorite of their array, however.

Appearance: Copper, cloudy, like a good craft APA should be. Inviting. (3.5/5)
Nose: What in the world!?! My least favourite part of the whole experience. Again, might have been the litre mug, might have been an off-tap, who knows? An off nose, at any rate: almost on the way to a "rancid" quality. To the point where in order to enjoy the taste (which I did) I had to close off my nose whilst sipping. (2/5)
Taste: Smooth and hoppy. All of Pisgah's brews must use the same yeast strain, because I recognized a certain Pisgah-y familiarity on the tongue. (3.5/5)
Palate: Snappy and crisp. Very APA-appropriate. (4/5)
Overall: I'm disappointed in a very good brewery for this one. Again, I might have had an off tap or an off glass. Drink it cold, is my advice. (3.2 -- C+)

2. Wittekerke

Appearance: What can I say? Yellow. Brightly so, like a Hoegaarden on steroids. Like perhaps the beer includes carotenoids. (3/5)
Aroma: At first blush, coriander, with a sweet grain-maltiness. At second blush, more of the same, with a nice shallow depth. (4/5)
Taste: OK. Classic wit, nothing spectacular, but nothing off either. (3/5)
Palate/Mouthfeel: A bit on the sticky side but amply refreshing. (4/5)
Overall: Not my favorite witbier, but it will definitely suit the bill if you're looking for a wit to drink and it happens to be what they have. All in all, somewhat plain. Interesting that the "kerke" in question on their label/tap handle is a plain white clapboard frame thing, because that's the overall effect of the beverage: plain, unassuming, mainline-protestant-style witbier. No stone bell towers or fancy stained glass with this one. (3.35 -- B-)

II. Old Europe Bistro
A nice outdoor patio right in old downtown. I had seafood chowder and an order of local-caught trout dip on toast; she had an amazing salmon dish with the same soup. Really nice place; I'm eager to go back and try the lunch menu.

Not a huge beer list, but:
a) Sara got Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and loved it! (There's a story here -- way back in the spring of '03, I persuaded her to get a pint while on a trip to NYC, saying, "you'll love it!" It did not go over well. Five years later, though, my now-hop-head wife is singing another tune. So, in the [very] long run, I was right. She did love it. It just took a while.)

b) I had a Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale (see separate review forthwith).

III. French Broad tasting at the Brewery
This was a throwback to our first anniversary (also spent in Asheville). "Support Your Local Brewery" is a common bumper-sticker and t-shirt logo these days. Well, with French Broad up the road, it's fairly easy -- and enjoyable -- to do so. And with offerings such as their Irish Stout, how could I not support them full-force? Pints, half-pints, and growlers available right there in the brewery tasting room, where they also feature live music more often than not. The only caveat, the tasting room closes at 8pm on weeknights.

About that Irish Stout...
First off, it's no Guinness. At 5.8% ABV, don't try to put this one back as if it were. You'll be sorry. In a good way? Perhaps. If you don't have to drive, any way.

Appearance:Dark, dark dark. Like a black steer's tuckuss on a moonless Prairie night. There was no bottom. (Well, unfortunately, there WAS a bottom to my glass). (4.5/5)
The nose is rich, hoppy, floral, inviting. Luring me in for the kill... (4.5/5)
Taste: A lovely roasted malt pervasiveness leads me along to an almost chicory presence that I find absolutely divine. O for a blackened catfish, or wood-roasted scallops, or charred Argentine steak! The pairing would be seamless. (4.5/5)
Palate:It finishes silky and smooth all the way down, if sitting somewhat heavily on the bottom (but then again, this was an after-dinner beer for me, perhaps not the best situation). (4.5/5)
Overall: Bravo and bravo again! (4.4 -- A)

IV. Lunch buffet at Mela Indian Restaurant
Well, this is a personal favorite repeat spot for us. The discovery this time around was simply this: drink Highland St. Teresa's Pale Ale with spicy Indian curry!!!

24 May 2008

The Thirsty Monk...again

Yes, I did review the Monk in the entry "Mid-May Notes." At the risk of redundancy, here's a second jab at a review with aspirations for as little overlap as I can muster...but, after all, such a place as this must surely deserve extra attention. More to the point, I wanted to review the brews I had whilst visiting the Monk, so found a recapturing of the ambiance helpful in that regard...

First of all, I have to give this place very high marks simply for the fact that it exists. In Asheville, no less. Very commendable, very impressive -- I'm overjoyed to have such a specialty place so close by in our little corner of the world. The decor is great. The place is impossibly clean (hooray!) and minimalistically decorated the way I wish my basement looked. I like the ambiance a lot. The selection is incredible. I thought this sort of place only existed in my wild fantasies. Or in Belgium. Apparently, there are enough other beer fetishists out there -- again, in Western NC -- to warrant the creation of such an establishment. 14 rotating taps of the finest Belgian and Belgian-style offerings. Hundreds of bottles, 750 mL and smaller sizes, to more than round out the discriminating palate. My slight disappointment was that a couple of the menu items listed (and tap heads that I saw right in front of me) were not available that particular night. Too bad! However, there was plenty else to choose from.

As I stated in my earlier review, my larger disappointment was with the food selection -- talk about skimpy! True, they do not have an in-house kitchen that I could discern. As it now stands, go for the beer -- definitely! Eat before you go. But try that cheese platter with some tripel. It will be fantastic.

Sampled at the Monk, via the flight option (smaller-sized servings at a lower price, their answer to the Half Pint. Lest you fret unduly, though, rest assured that the flight sizes are quite generous. No 3-ounce nonsense here):

1) North Coast Brother Thelonious (Dubbel, 9.0% ABV)
Ironic that my least-favorite during a night of Belgian-styles was the non-native-Belgian? Probably not. North Coast, on the whole, does amazing work. Old Stock Ale, Old Rasputin...This one, though, while good, couldn't hold much of a 4-foot liturgical taper to some of its Old-World brethren.

Appearance: Dr. Pepper. (3.5/5)
Aroma: STRONG!!! Caramel, dates, raisins (4/5)
Taste: Again, raisins. Apricots, figs, dates, sorghum. (4/5)
Palate: My least favorite aspect of this beer. It's too thin, and disintegrates too soon. Almost watery for something so strong. (3/5)
Overall: Good, sweet, and strong, but too sweet, too rich. Drink this one in small quantities. Perfect match with a cardamom chocolate, though. (3.75 -- B)

2) Dupont Biere de Miel Biologique (Organic Saison with Honey, 8% ABV)
God, this is good stuff. Where has it been hiding all my beer-drinking life? I must say, in the interest of full journalistic disclosure, that my fair wife did not care for this beer. Me, I thought it was the best stuff I'd had since Easter.

Appearance: Looks suspiciously like mead. (4/5)
Aroma: Wildflowers, honey, and malt. (4.5/5)
Taste: Hominy, and non-sweet honey. (5/5)
Palate: PERFECT! Smooth with a bit of spritz. (5/5)
Overall: Quite refreshing and thirst-quenching. The fact that it's 8% ABV is WELL hidden. Saison-ish. The fact that it's a Dupont creation is not surprising given the high level of quality. The fact that it's organic makes me very happy. Amazing beer. More of this. Often. (4.65 -- A+)

3)Huyghe Delirium Nocturnum (Belgian Strong Dark Ale, 8.5% ABV)
Once I discovered how to appreciate and enjoy the Tremens (and oh, but I do), I've been itching to try their other offerings: the Noel, and this, the Nocturnum.

Appearance: Dark ruby red, with a thick head. Enticing if a bit intimidating. (5/5)
Aroma: Sour cherry, brown sugar, faint mild hops. (4/5)
Taste: A carnival ride: sour water, raisins, cherry pits, white pepper, pears, a bitter hop finish. (3.5/5)
Palate: Perfect, really. (5/5)
Overall: Not quite as good as Tremens in my book, but still very solid! Great with chocolate. (4.1 -- A-)

4) Liefmans Kriekbier (Cherry fruited lambic ale. 6% ABV)
First Off: The best Fruited Lambic I've ever had, bar none. One of the best Lambics I've had, period, fruited or otherwise. Wow. They use real cherries, unlike some other kriek brewers. Also: this technically wasn't one of my flight choices, but instead my flight buddy's. I wish it were mine. I willed it to be so. This is crazy stuff.

Appearance: Reddish-purple, with a pink head. Dark, mysterious, and enticing. (4.5/5)
Aroma: Cherry pits, slightly sour with a sweet-tart edge. It's inviting me to pour it down my gullet, but my nose is so entranced that I just want to sniff it all night. (5/5)
Taste: A fruity smorgasbord, but not fruity in the way that sorority spring breaks are fruity -- this is a mature, decadent (yes), refined, high-class fruity. strawberry, raspberry, and (yes) fine cherry notes, along with (if there is such a thing!) gourmet bubble gum and sweet tarts, although the name of this game is "not too sweet!" A sour brett. yeast taste rounds it off. (4.5/5)
Palate: Perfect. A study in nuance and style. (5/5)
Overall: Amazing, really. Again, the best fruited lambic I've ever had. More, please!! (4.65 -- A+)

23 May 2008

Papa's got a brand new brew!

What began back in Goochland County VA as the Bathtub Brewery has gone through many iterations, produced much to be proud of and a few over which we still hang our head in shame. Halcyon days, friends, full of wonder, extremes of temperature and plenteous brew. Having shared many partners (but never owing money all around town) in this endeavor, I have resurrected eight years of fine brewing tradition in the northernmost corner of the Shenandoah Valley. Our brewery, as our beer, is as yet unnamed but big plans are in the works including kegs, taps and occasional cross-border trips with trunks full of contraband and ringers - with weight - at the ready.
To wit, some pictures, our recipe and a call for creative nomenclature (both beer and brewery)

Ingredients (3 Gallon batch)
3.75 lbs Coopers Wheat Malt Extract

1/2 lb Crystal Malt
1/2 lb Pilsen Malt

2 oz. US Saaz Hops (boil), 2 tsp Grains of Paradise (1 boil, 1 finishing)

1 packet Nottingham Ale Yeast (pictured above), 3 Gal. Water

Saturday, May 17

Steep Crystal/Pilsen malt in 2 gal. water, bringing to a slow boil
Remove grains at boil and add Malt Extract, 2 oz US Saaz Hops, 1 tsp Grains of Paradise
Boil 60 minutes
Remove hops, boil 10 minutes
Add 1 tsp Grains of Paradise
Boil 5 minutes, remove grains
Cool Wort
Add to Carboy, top off with cold water.
Pitch yeast.

Sunday, May 18

Enjoy the sweet aroma and delightful experience of happily bubble wort, soon to be beer.
Updates forthcoming after bottling.

19 May 2008

Two Christmas presents, Part II

Cumberland Pale Ale

Another beer whose head got the best of me: it was huge, thick, and stubborn. My pouring, I will admit however, was perhaps overly casual. Fucking amateurs.

The BarrelHouse Brewing Company of Cincinnati, which started out in 1995 as a brewpub and has grown into a regional microbrewery of high repute with a cleverly-named line, has this to say about the beer:

Early Cincinnati brewers shipping their beers into Tennessee would generously hop their beer to prevent spoilage during the long arduous trip over the Cumberland Trail. This classic interpretation of the American Pale Ale features a solid foundation of pale malt loaded with fresh Cascade hops. Here's to getting where you're going!

I like any brewery that believes beer is necessary to getting where you're going. Where are my car keys? And hand me my beer! A very Dude attitude.

The Cumberland is pretty standard APA. Beneath all of that head is a clear copper and a promising nose more suggestive of good malt than powerful hops.

Indeed the suggestions of the nose are borne out, or rather further developed, by the mouth: the Cumberland is not as hop-dominated as the label suggests. It's not bad, just a smoother and less potent exposition of the form than many of its peers. Very clean in the mouth, with a very brief aftertaste of malty sweetness. Notes of orange and grain.

Overall, a very drinkable, if not overwhelmingly exciting beer. 4.6% ABV.

17 May 2008

Very briefly...

This was simply too good to pass up.

What we can surmise:

1) Times is hard in Montgomery.
2) The beer scene is NOT good in Alabama.
3) If you're walking down the street with a 12-pack of Bud Light in your possession, you just might get shot.

What we can suggest:

If someone approaches you and demands you yield your Bud Light, consider it a fortuitous and profitable occasion. Don't wait for the firearm.

13 May 2008

The Moon Under Water

When I think George Orwell, a few things pop into my mind at first blush:

* Barnyard Animals and their political schemes.

* 1984

* The current socio-political landscape

From henceforth, however, I'll have to add a fourth asterisk to that list: The Moon Under Water.
The MUW is the name of both a brief essay by Orwell, and of the pub that said essay describes in loving detail. It is a pleasant essay full of love, nostalgia, even a hint of wistfulness. It premiered in the London Evening Standard on 9 February, 1946.

Here is the essay for your reading enjoyment. I suggest a pint in hand for the reading.

12 May 2008

Two Christmas presents, Part I

Wailing Wench

For Christmas, I received two large bottles, which have languished in my cellar, all but forgotten. However, with spring has come the time to test them appropriately, to give them their due.

First to be sampled and savored is the Wailing Wench ale, an offering from the Middle Ages Brewing Co., Ltd., in Syracuse, NY, which must be the seedier cousin to the St. Cecilia Brewery of Tryon, NC. Both take their inspiration from earlier times, but in the stead of John Dowland or Charles Parry, Middle Ages gives us the Wailing Wench. As befits any reference to Merrie England, the label is bawdy and in very poor taste. Wonderful woman. We're all very fond of her. Very free-spirited.

The beer does not disappoint; it is very tasty. A dark, cloudy copper in color, with only a moderate head, the Wailing Wench provides abundant hops to the palate (as is promised – with much innuendo that would please any contemporary or admirer of the Middle Ages – on the label: "Screaming with hops"), and a mild, pleasant aftertaste. And, weighing in at 8% ABV, it packs almost all the necessary ingredients for a good time. Brandt can't watch though, or he has to pay a hundred.

Stay tuned for Part II.

06 May 2008

Mid-may notes

I. The hefeweizen has been, as of earlier today, moved into the secondary fermenter. All signs point to a winner: current gravity readings are spot-on, it's a lovely orange color, and it smells divinely weissenig: bananas and cloves out the wazoo. I can't wait.

II. The Sir Charles IPA is out and shining. It amazes me how the bottle-conditioning is like clockwork: sample a newbie even one day prior to go-time, and you'll be disappointed. A mere 24 hours later, and it's a different beverage entirely. I could set my calendars by the conditioning of homebrew.
I'm loving this IPA. Not as heady or hoppy as some, it nevertheless fits the bill and is quite tasty. Sara promises to write a review on the blog soon.

III. Slowly but steadily, I have entered into the next realm of the all-consuming beer hobby: the cellar. It may seem a bit counterintuitive to lay down (or, in the case of beer, "keep vertical") bottles of something that often include a "best by" date on the label, but rest assured there are any number of brews out there that not only stand up to cellar aging for months or even years, but also some that downright benefit from it. The most likely candidates are those with high alcohol content (7% ABV or higher), and those that are bottle-conditioned. However, certain stouts and porters, and even some fruit beers like lambics, also carry a penchant for the long haul. Much like wine, the keys are dark space, cool temperatures, and no movement. With our new living space's basement, I've alotted a corner across from our wine cellar (also nascent but hopeful) for some beer-cellaring experimentation. In the coming months, I'm hoping to be adding to it fairly regularly. And blogging about it as well.
A great inspiration: The Brew Basement.

IV. And speaking of (non-homebrew-ingredient) adjuncts, another fun aspect of the Beer Enthusia: glassware and stemware. Also, one thinks of wine and the myriad shapes and sizes and variations on "the bowl." Beer is coming into its own in this regard as well. Strike from your consciousness the frosted barrel-shaped mug. Think, instead, of something akin to this:
Of course, beer glasses come in many shapes and sizes: the familiar Guinness pint glass is the perfect receptacle for a good stout, or porter, or English-style ale. IPAs and English Ales also go great with those pint glasses that have the little bulge near the top. Those Oktoberfest tankard steins are perfect for a German lager. Hefeweizen goes best in a tall, elegant, curvy thing that looks a bit like something out of Star Wars. Stronger brews, abbey ales, and the like fare well in goblets and wine glasses. The Belgians go absolutely nuts, with individual breweries often having their own glassware -- some even that need separate stands just to hold them up. Why all the variation? Why all the fuss?
Well, much in the way with wine glassware, each beer style benefits best from having certain characteristics front and center (emphasize the nose, push the hoppy bitterness to the forefront, create more head, admire the sparkling clarity, allow it to breathe, etc.). The various shapes and sizes accommodate all these various traits differently for the different beers, maximizing the experience. Sure, you can drink a hefeweizen out of a Guinness glass. I do it all the time. But for serious tasting and appreciating, there's no beating the weiss glass. Plus, they look impressive. Plus, it's downright fun.
My current favorite beer glass style, if not quite my favorite beer, is the pilsner. Here it is, in action:

What about drinking right from the bottle? There's no better way to enjoy a Rolling Rock.

V. Experts and pros in the worlds of both cellar beers and stemware: the Belgians. Speaking of the Belgians, Sara and I finally scoped out Asheville's The Thirsty Monk on Friday night.

Stupendous! It's a bit on the pricey side of the equation, but they have the option of flight-size samples of their (14!) draughts, enabling a wider sampling at a reasonable bill. This is the closest I've seen anywhere in this country to the "half-pint" option commonplace in British and Irish pubs. And, I should add, TM's flight sizes are hefty enough to be worth your while: no festival tasting 2 ounces here! Most of the beers are also served in their own specialized glasses.
The Thirsty Monk has only been open since late December, and is still auspiciously new: the first smell one is greeted by upon entry is "clean." The whole place is spotless and immaculate, as if a Trappist with vows of silence had just been through with his mop and dustcloth. No smoking to be had, either. It looks as if they're still in the process of filling in the decor, but nothing says "good vibes" to me like a Delirium Tremens mirror and a big Chimay flag.

Points against them: I was a bit taken aback to hear the strains of "the Electric Slide" emanating from their speaker system when we walked in. The playlist did move on to something a bit more tolerable -- Gladys Knight, I think. But nothing says fine Belgian ales to me like...Motown and cheesy bad wedding reception line dances. I'm not sure what I would offer as a counter-suggestion: Gregorian chant would certainly add to the ethos of the space, but certainly not to the intent or the hopeful mood of the patrons. Acoustic folky instrumentals (roots, Americana, even some rollicking European folk tunes) might fit the bill. I mean, it is Asheville after all.
The bigger regret is the food situation: not having a kitchen of their own, they have risen to something of a creative occasion by providing not only Euro-inspired treats, but also ones that pair well with Belgian ale styles. Cheese platters, chocolate samplers, and cold baguette sandwiches and crepe sandwiches. That's the whole line, and once again price seems a little steep. Granted, one probably doesn't seek out a Belgian beer bar for the food, but for a place that opens at 4:00pm, it's a bit skimpy. If they ever get a kitchen situation worked out, I'd love to see some moules (steamed mussels...ahhh.) and frites (with or without the mayonnaise!).

03 May 2008

The Next Homebrew...and the Next Chapter in Homebrewing

Yesterday, I started the next batch of St. Cecilia beer...a hefeweizen, timed to coincide with the arrival of summer in the Southern Appalachians. As I cannot resist a good pun, and have already titled my Dunkelweizen "Silvius Leopold WEISS (Dunkel)," it followed that the current batch would be called, again, Silvius Leopold WEISS (Hefe)."
And, because he's just that good (as is the current performer), here's another look -- or listen -- at the overlooked namesake genius:

Proof that beefy soccer jocks can also be incredibly sensitive interpreters of baroque music.

I also tried my hand at something new: rather than purchase a kit from Asheville Brewers Supply, complete with pre-selected ingredients and self-contained instruction sheet, I decided to delve into the wider world of recipes and ingredient purchase. The current batch is based on a "clone" recipe from a book I received for Christmas: Beer Captured by Tess and Mark Szamatulski. The source recipe is modeled on their interpretation of Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier, one of the benchmarks of the style. Largely for the sake of trying something new, and seeing how there was no imminent trip to Asheville in sight, I ordered the ingredients from Northern Brewer, letting the UPS guy burn petroleum instead of me (as many of the ingredients I used come from the same exact source as those provided by ABS). I have departed slightly from the recipe as published, in terms of the priming/carbonation method: rather than use more dry malt extract, per the book method, I'm going to once again use my tried-and-true turbinado sugar method.

My only wonderment is the sheer simplicity of the recipe:

6 pounds of (Briess) dry wheat malt extract
1 ounce of Hallertau Herrsbrucker hops, added at the beginning of the boil
boiled in 2.5 gallons of water for 60 minutes
Cooled, added to primary fermenter containing 3 gallons cold water, pitch 1 vial of White Labs Hefeweizen liquid yeast.

I'm hoping that the minimalism of this recipe results in a pure, clean, subtle brew that would prompt my good buddy J-Wor to quip, "simple tools," rather than in an insipid, boring, tastes-like-wallpaper brew. We shall see.

I am unsure as to the Original Gravity of this one. In my ongoing battle against the hydrometer, I did something silly. I ended up being in quite a hurry to get it all finished and in the fermenter, as time crept up on me and Sara and I had a Community Chorus show to get to. In my hurry, along with sloshing quite a bit of wort onto the floor (again, have I mentioned how glad I am to be brewing in the basement?), I did my hydrometer gravity test of the wort BEFORE diluting it with all of the water. So, the reading came out to something astronomical, 1.106, which would yield an estimated ABV in the realm of 11%. Eek! Once I realized my error, I pondered how to calculate the correct diluted reading, since readings can't be taken once the yeast has been pitched.

Enter the computer age! Apparently there are a few software programs available to the homebrewer, designed to help track, sort, store, calculate, and otherwise aid the homebrewing enthusiast. After a tip and some discussion on the BeerAdvocate forum, I set off into the wild woods of the internets in search of a potentially helpful download-friendly executable file.
There are quite a few programs from which the uninitiated may choose. Keeping my eyes peeled for the magical word "Free," I first examined a program called Q-Brew. Let me tell you, not worth the 2 minutes it took to download. Q-Brew resided on my desktop for about 20 minutes before being expunged. I finally decided on taking advantage of the 21-day free trial offer from Beersmith. This program comes highly regarded and is, at least thus far, very user-friendly and versatile. Most importantly for the situation at hand, it also has a dilution calculator!
Entering in the digits, I find a corrected OG reading in the range of 1.050-1.053, right where it should be. Thus, depending on the final gravity, I should be looking at a hefeweizen with an ABV of 5.2%. Perfect.

And speaking of the internets, I also stumbed across this little gem. Wikiality, indeed.

And no, I do NOT, and will NOT, drink my weissbier with lemon or orange wedges. Gross. If you must commit such a travesty, I recommend this approach: