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.
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.
In my imagination, sometimes the discarded brown bottles of the city sing out to me. They want to be rescued. They want to be washed, scrubbed, cleansed, like seabirds plucked from an oil slick.
I called the beer “A1 Nut Job”. It’s got peanut butter in it. It originated in an encounter that made me think of Sigmund Freud and his musings on Doppelgӓngers and the “unheimlich”. I like to imagine Jack Nicholson saying it in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
Why was Dany Prignon – the George Best of Belgian brewing, its Richard Feynman, its Doctor Who, if you will – enquiring after my drinking habits?
The most common advice that experienced homebrewers offer to first-timers is, “Try something simple.” So I set my sights on one of the most admired beers on the planet.