A coffee-bean stout saw me put two new bits of kit from Speidel to work: the Kellermeister conical fermenter and the Braumeister stainless steel wort chiller.
An encounter with Mark Tranter, founder of the Saison-specialist Burning Sky Brewery, coincides with a homebrewed Grisette, inspiring some reflections on these rough-and-ready, Belgian workers’ ales.
With an odd 3.7kg of Pilsner malt in my cellar and a three-month-old Wyeast 1762 Belgian Abbey II in my fridge, it was time to brew up a small portion of the beer style I return to most often - the Strong, Dark Abbey Ale.
Board games, beers, Blimp, and a Bavarian tale make for a nostalgic chronicle of Christmas.
Making an ale that may require as long as a decade to reach its peak causes a brewer to mull over more than just the way a beer is put together. Thinking in decades makes the ageing of a beer analogous with the ageing of a man.
Were brewers to be divided up into “tweakers” and “experimenters”, I would certainly find myself categorised as an experimenter. But I have been tweaking lately... and learning about the ageing of essential-oil components in hops.
As the autumn equinox passes and the nights draw in, thoughts turn to Christmas ale, spice in beer, and the spice of life.
The focus on a single ingredient - American hops - is the top of a slippery slope. It encourages an ever-narrowing focus on certain elements of that ingredient, which sends us sliding towards a place where fizzy, alcoholic fruit juice can be mistaken for beer.
With a couple of friends to lend a helping hand, brew day can be a hospitable time of aimless conversation, mutual admiration of shiny brewing equipment, and shameless indulgence in good beer, cheese and ham.
With Vintage Beer, Patrick Dawson has given us a handy, easy-to-use book on a topic that is attracting more and more attention from beer drinkers.