11 August 2008

August Homebrew News

William Byrd's Browning Ale
is my latest creation. It is also the most original brew (in terms of recipe origin) I've attempted thus far. The inspiration for the recipe came from the Beer Captured (have I mentioned recently how much I love this book??) clone version of Samuel Smith's Nut-Brown Ale, but I decided to take some detours from the ingredient list of the recipe-as-published, most notably in the use of organic malts and priming sugar.

Here's the overview:

5 oz Organic Crystal Malt
5 oz Organic Chocolate Malt
Steeped in 1.5 gal water @ 150 F for 30 minutes, sparged with 1/2 gal.

Increase water to 3 gal. Water brought to the boil. Add:
6 lb Briess Extra-Light Organic Dry Malt Extract
1 oz East Kent Goldings (5.5% AA) hops
1/2 oz Fuggles (4.3% AA) hops

At 45 minutes add:
1/2 oz Fuggles
1 tsp Irish Moss

Boil for 15 minutes more. Chill, add to carboy with 2.6 gal cold water. Pitch yeast (White Labs British Ale) at 70 F.
Original Gravity: 1.050
Bottling ABV: 5.4%

It sat in the primary for 7 days, then got racked into secondary for another 7 days (was going to be 5 days, but I got lazy). Went into the bottles on the 28th, and I'm planning on breaking the tester out on August 16.

Browning refers to a (once) popular song from Elizabethan days ("The leaves be green/ The nuts be brown/ They hang so high/ They will not come down") used in a famous variation set for Viols by the great William Byrd. In the words of my former teacher, Dr. Silbiger, "The lyrics are probably naughty." As the comments from a few postings back show, another contender for the title of this one was Purcell's Nut Brown Lass. She'll have to wait for a later worthy brew.

I was unsuccessful in finding a video with a performance of Browning (at least one that's in-tune or well-played), but here's a delightful work of Byrd's, (another one with roots in a salaciously-worded song, The Carman's Whistle).

II. In the Hopper

I've just racked my next brew into the secondary. This one, an English Mild Ale kit from Northern Brewer, is destined to become Herbert Howells English Ale. The English Mild is actually a form of Brown Ale, once nearly ubiquitous in brewery-pubs across England but now mostly limited to the Midlands. Mild Ale is a session beer, usually with between 2.8 and 4.5% alcohol by volume. Mild is most commonly found as a cask ale, pointing to its origin as a local-brewed pub standard. This will not be one that I attempt to age for any significant amount of time.

It consists of:
0.125 lb Simpson's Chocolate Malt

0.25 lb Crisp Amber Malt
0.25 lb Crisp Brown Malt
Steeped in 1.5 gal water for 20 minutes.

At the boil, added:
1 lb Briess Sparkling Amber DME
3.15 lb NB Amber Malt Syrup

After 15 minutes, added:
0.5 oz Target (10 % AA) hops

After 45 minutes, added:
1 tsp Irish Moss

Cooled, added cold water, pitched yeast (White Labs Burton Ale).

The plan is to bottle on the 15th and break it out for a try on the 30th.

Northern Brewer's stock is rising pretty high in my book. They are very well-priced (even factoring shipping charges in!!), have a broad array of ingredients, kits, and supplies in their catalogue (both online and in print), and are constantly adding new kits and styles to their quiver. I expect I'll continue to do business with them. I don't want to neglect my local brew supply shops (Asheville Brewers and Hops & Vines), but until such a time as we live significantly closer to those shops (or travel to & fro much more regularly) it's hard to countenance paying (often) more for the same ingredients, on top of paying for gasoline to get there, when I can have UPS (who's already on the road anyway) drive it to me at competitive cost. This isn't quite following the party line on the buying-local scheme, but I justify it in a few ways:

1) This is homebrewing. I'm already making a political statement and doing my part to be off-the-grid.

2) The Local Brew Supply shops don't get their ingredients and supplies from their backyard garden (or factory). Odds are, they might order from NB as well.

07 August 2008

The Beer Chef Strikes Again

Doppelbock Thai Pork Balls with Peanut Sauce

First, the Doppelbock:
The recipe called for Troëgs Troeginator Double Bock, but failing to secure any I opted for a classic German expression of the style from a foolproof brewery (see the review of the beer at the bottom of this posting). As only 1/3 cup's worth is called for in the recipe, and I secured a 500 mL bottle for the occasion, plenty was left for our tasting enjoyment.

The Recipe (modified from All About Beer's Beer Lover's Cookbook):
I like pork! Can I have some pork?

1.5 pounds ground pork (the original was for chicken; I doubt we'll ever try it that way, the pork was so good, provided we can continue to find good free-range organic pork)
1 small onion, diced
1/2 bell pepper (preferably red), diced
1 egg
Bread crumbs (maybe 1.5 Cups' worth, but have more on hand)
2 ts chili sauce (we didn't use any, substituting cayenne pepper instead -- but only about 1/8 - 1/4 ts!)
1 T fresh ginger, minced
1/3 C Doppelbock
1 diced jalapeno or other mildly hot pepper
2 or 3 ts soy sauce (I like Tamari)
1/3 C diced fresh basil
1-2 T fresh lime juice
Any other hot sauce or Asian sauce, to taste. Toasted sesame oil is always a hit.

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, adding more breadcrumbs if you judge it too moist. The consistency should be just like homemade burgers. If you like, let the mixture stand, refrigerated, for a few hours. (We didn't do this.) Heat oven to 325 F. Form the mix into balls about 2 inches in diameter (if they're too big, they'll fall apart -- think Italian meatball-size). Sautee in oil (I like peanut or safflower for Asian cooking) on each side, until golden brown. Place on paper towels to soak up excess oil, then put them on a baking pan or cookie sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes. Serve with your favorite Southeast Asian-inspired dipping sauce. We whipped up a spicy ginger peanut sauce that was perfect , and served them alongside snap peas and rice noodles for a meal.

I can't express how delicious these things were. And the pairing with a glass of Korbinian was simply delightful. I don't know if I would have ventured a Thai-themed dish with sweet-strong-dark German Bock as an ingredient, without the prompting of a recipe to tell me to do so, but the result was perfect. This dish will be made again in our household.

Regarding the Beer:
Weihenstephaner Korbinian Doppelbock

Appearance: Dark brown, looks suspiciously like Coca-Cola in my pilsener glass. 4/5

Aroma: A tad (but just a tad) on the weak side in my book. Nicely malty and caramelly. 3/5

Taste: Very nice! Raisins, caramel, a subtle but solid Noble Hop presence, nutty and toasty. 4.2/5

Palate: Spritzy. 4.5/5

Overall: It's no Curator or Celebrator to be sure, but for the price (much cheaper than either of those!) it can't be beat. Perfect with the above meal; it would also pair nicely with an array of desserts. 4/5

Total overall score: 3.85.

03 August 2008

As the summer wanes....

I've got a few updates to post, including another installment in the cooking-with-beer department (Doppelbock Thai pork balls) and some homebrewing news, but as I enjoy posting photos along with my text, and I am a lazy man (quite possibly the laziest in Polk County, which does NOT put me in the running for laziest worldwide), those will just have to wait until I feel like dealing with photo uploads.

The mostly-organic Brown Ale is going in bottles this afternoon, and will be followed closely by the startup of an English Mild Ale.

In the meantime, here's a new (to me) beer-related blog I've stumbled across that looks fairly interesting.