It is April 24. Last week I decided to have a few friends over for a BBQ this afternoon. I also decided to brew a beer for a party this summer. The party will be doubly special because one son is graduating high school and another is defeating Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
When I made this decision a week ago, spring had sprung all around me here in mid-Michigan. Daffodils and hyacinths were blooming, buds were popping on the trees and the temperatures were hovering in the sixties and seventies. Now I am struggling with a strong wind and temps in the thirties, while carting all my brewing equipment around like a pack horse.
Now, don't get me wrong, I love winter. I like the cold, crisp temperatures, the way the snow blankets everything and the still that comes only with winter's chill throttling it all down to a near crawl. There's nothing like skiing down a fresh slope, hunting in the cool quiet winter forest or fishing through two feet of ice. But it's April 24, for cryin' out loud!
The brew day and BBQ will go on, though! I brew all-grain, homemade beer. This one is called Andrew's Red Ass Irish Ale. The malt bill looks like this:
17 Lbs. Briess Pale Malted Barley
2 Lbs. Briess 10L Crystal Malt
.5 Lb. Dingeman's Special B Malt
4 oz. Briess Roasted Barley
1 Lb. Honey
3 oz. East Kent Goldings Whole Leaf Hops (60 minutes)
1 oz. East Kent Goldings Whole Leaf Hops (15 minutes)
2 half gallon starters of White Labs Irish Ale Yeast 004
It makes a fine red ale, easy drinker with a crisp almost-lager mouthfeel. I will keg it up and lager it until July.
Snow is falling heavily as I write this. The mash is resting at 151 F and I am waiting for mashout when I will raise the temperature to 160 F. I took a couple of pictures of the backyard when I set up my brewing appratus. If they come out I will scan them and post them here. The snow is several inches deep, so it will make for an unusual Spring brew day! One picture is a shot of some grape hyaciths in the background, in full bloom, with snow crusted all over them. Another shows the swamp behind my house, with my hop trellis in the foreground, again, all covered in white stuff.
This won't even come close to being the coldest or snowiest day I've brewed in. Several times I brewed in winter with temperatures under zero. Some of these times were a real workout for the propane cooker to get the wort to a boil. Wort is the liquor that makes beer, before it is fermented.
Well I am going to be quite busy for the next few hours, so I will end this. Enjoy your day everyone, and if you're in the neighborhood, stop by for a beer. I'm buying (or brewing)!