11 January 2009

Oy Vey

So, here it is January for crying out loud and I'm back-logged for posting like nobody's business.

Here's my lame disclaimer:
1) Advent and Christmas seasons for an Episcopal Organist/Choirmaster = nuts. Blogging simply got shoved to the bottom of the priorities list.
2) As mentioned in my previous post, my laptop fried the week before Christmas (see #1). General mayhem and gnashing of teeth ensued.
3) Some homebrewing setbacks left me somewhat less than eager to chronicle my achievements -- much like the writers of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, I'm more keen to document my successes than I am my defeats (see below).

But, culturally speaking, January 1 makes all things new (including an amazing new office computer), so here we go into the *third calendar year* for Perm's Brew Picks and More.

So, a bit of housecleaning/catching up is in order from the tail-end of '08. Here we go:

I. Homebrewing News.

When last I logged in, the Pumpkin Ale was in secondary and the APA was on the docket. Both went south in a big way. Beyond recovery? Only time can tell.

For the pumpkin ale, I've decided my big mistake was to re-soak the bag o'pumpkin in the secondary. WAAAAY too much vegetable taste in the finished product: something akin to pumpkin juice mixed with amber ale. And an odd sour note that may or may not be foreign funk. I'm going to let these puppies sit in the bottle for a few months to see what sort of mellowing magic time can work. The silver lining: they're still perfectly fine for cooking with.

As far as the APA goes, I'm still not quite sure what went wrong, but once again there's the possibility of a foreign influence (wild yeast, or even something more nefarious like mold) influencing the elixir. Possibly some unwanted diacetyl, too. I'm also going to let it sit for a severe quantity of time to see if anything evens out. This might be one for loss-cutting and moving on.

In the wake of these two morale-crushers, 2008 appears to have ended splendidly, though. After a prelimiary tasting, my December brewing project can be counted a wonderful success:

Ralph Vaughan Williams' Down Ampney Coffee Porter
In addition to winning the prize for longest name yet, it's also named in honor of the 50th anniversary of the great man's passing from this life. Vaughan Williams, being quintessentially English, deserved a quintessentially English brew, of course -- and what can be more fitting than Porter?

It doesn't get much more sublime than this...

The coffee was a late-minute snap decision of mine, just for fun. I coarsely-ground 1 oz of dark-roast beans, and then tossed them into the cooling wort post-boil (5 gallons, mind you). For the next week or so, I was convinced that I had brewed 5 gallons of kahlua. By bottling time, though, the coffee had mellowed out and blended with the other elements.
An official tasting will come soon.

And my January brew (actually begun in late December) is a foray into the joys of co-brewing with a friend. I wish I could say that this is my first foray into joint brewing, but I must sadly recall the events of April 2004.
JT and I have embarked on a pretty ambitious project: a clone of Westvleteren Abt 12 (the [in]famous Trappist beer -- the one that *isn't* exported to the US). We're set to bottle in a couple of weeks, then bulk-age the monster until March or later. Stay tuned for updates.

2. Election Night Special

Only 2 months late! No worries!
Mrs. Perm and I celebrated Election Night with a couple of premium Carolina Cigar Company Churchills, and for the occasion I broke out one of my bottles of Harviestoun Ola Dubh 12.
[photo to come]
This is an incredible whisky-barrel-aged Scottish Old Ale from the makers of Old Engine Oil.
Limited-edition 330 mL bottles, each individually numbered.
Here's the run-down:

Appearance: Black...black is the color of my true-love beer! A very thin tan head around the edge of the glass frames the goodness. 5/5

Aroma: Tar, tobacco, peat, smoke, hops, strong malt, and molasses. Not for the faint of heart. Or the Miller drinker. 5/5

Taste: Malt, peat smoke, mild hops, treacle. It flows seamlessly from the nose to the taste, with wonderful whisky notes throughout. Dark-chocolate liqueur-like, to boot. 5/5

Palate: Mellow, smooth, very slight alcohol tinge, thick, and viscous. 5/5

Overall: Fantastic! A great Old Ale -- great sipping beer, and wonderful with that medium-blend cigar. It was a bit steep at $8.50 for a 330 mL bottle, but for a one-offer (And for a momentous event), it's definitely something special. And not a disappointment. 4.95: A+

3. New Years' in Beer Land

New Years' 2008-2009 was not intentionally planned to be beer-themed, but combine Perm with Asheville (and haut cuisine) and it's hard not to have it end up being so. Here's a summary of the December 31 adventure:

I. Jack of the Wood (Green Man Brewing's home)
Early supper here.
Green Man Imperial Stout (w/Surf & Turf)
Green Man IPA

II. The Thirsty Monk
Gouden Carolus Noel
(chocolate platter)
Off-license (in the US! I know!) bottle of Bell's Winter Wheat (wit), back to the hotel and the crazy-jet bathtub with this one

III. Barley's Taproom
The quest for the short-supply 2008 Pisgah Baptista (not bottled at all!) is finally successful, one hammock-taxi ride (for the ladies) later. 10-12 oz or so draught is well worth the hunt for this gem.

IV. The Bier Garden
Appalachian Copperhead Ale
Allagash Dubbel (bottle)

To follow: A trio of Perm's Monthly Picks, and a review of our New Years' Day multi-course feast.


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