On the homebrew front, we last left you, O Sparse Readership, with the Beach Gaelic Symphony in its aging stage and the Weiss-bier in the fermenter. Some updates are owed: The Gaelic Symphony Ale is no more. All has been consumed. And it was good. Probably one of the most pleasant, all-around Good Beers that I've brewed. It might be due a reprise in months to come. The Weiss-Bier (Opus 2) turned out nicely, but is not my favorite. I've about decided that a good, authentic German-tasting Hefeweizen is quite difficult to achieve in the extract-brewing world. My first round in '08 was nice, but quite plain and boring, and lacking in the banana-clove quality that I was going for. I attempted a manipulation of the process this time around, and ended up with clovey banana bread in a bottle. Also not ideal. I take great consolation, though, in the fact that some folks loved it. Good for them -- they keep me brewing!
Following the Silvius Leopold Weiss (still the best musicologically-inspired name for a beer EVER), I tried my hand an an American-style IPA. With a twist, though, because I had a stash of Czech hops on hand and wanted to use them. So, I devised the Antonín Dvořak New World IPA, inspired (of course) by the great Symphony No.9 ("From the New World") of Dvořak: a piece of music written in America, with American-inspired themes, by a Czech composer. Seemed fitting to me.
The brew's success is in its exquisite flavor and high drinkability. Its failure, though, is twofold: continental noble hops lack the citrus zing and bittering punch of New World (West Coast) hop varieties, the ones that we have come to expect in our American IPAs; and I had a mysterious under-carbonation pandemic affect quite a few of my bottles. So, reluctantly, I must consign my New World IPA to the ranks of homebrewing mediocrity. Although, I am sampling one, as I write this, which is perfectly carbonated and quite tasty. With the hop identity, though, it leans more toward a strong Amber Ale. (ABV ~ 7%)
On the horizon (in fact, happening this very afternoon) is a leap of faith: my second foray into the world of fruit beers. My first, nigh on a year ago, was the ill-fated Colonial Pumpkin Ale, now known in the Perm household as the "cooking beer." I'm confident, though, that I now possess the knowledge-tools to make this one a success. I have in my freezer about 5 pounds of local-grown (VERY local), organic blueberries, and on my table an American Wheat Beer kit. The hopeful result: Rhapsody in Blue, a blueberry-wheat ale tipping its hat to the great (but tragically short-lived) George Gershwin. It will also feature my first experiment with brewing into tertiary fermentation: most of my brews undergo primary fermentation (after the yeast is pitched into the vat/carboy with the ingredients) and secondary (the wort is racked [transferred] to another carboy to filter and reduce sediment, and in all the excitement the yeast sometimes wakes up from its nap and goes to work again). Teritary will simply mean racking it an additional time -- I'm going to add the blueberries to the secondary, and don't want all that organic pulpy gunk in my finished product, hence an additional filtering step.
Finally, some Gershwin fun (the man himself, from a rare 1920s recording):
George comes in on the piano at 1:02.
Next Post: Some Perm's Brew Picks from the summertime!