Saturday, November 08, 2008


I racked the latest beer-the Mild-into kegs today. For the first time, I used carboy caps and CO2 to force the beer out of the carboys and into the kegs, through the "beer out" connection of the kegs. This method results in a beer that has never encountered the air. I have noticed an irritating off flavor in some of my beers over the past couple of years and believe this flavor comes from molds or other wee beasties in the home. This racking method is meant to minimize any such effects. We'll see.

After racking the beer, which was supposed to finish at 1.009 specific gravity, I force carbonated one of the kegs and had a couple (of course!). I was pleasantly surprised. It is exactly what I was hoping for. A mild (in alcohol) beer with a lot of flavor! The beer pours a wonderful, clear mahogany color, with a fine beaded, tan head. The hops are barely noticeable, both in the nose and in flavor/bitterness. They are homegrown Nugget and Cascade, so they are not true to style, but they suit me just fine. There is an abundant grainy/toasty flavor, with a good dose of coffee and chocolate (I love this chocolate malt!). The beer, though carrying some dark fruitiness, is not sweet at all but stands up well to the hops in malt complexity. A roasty finish makes the beer seem drier than it is. It will be a bit better in a week or so but it is quite tasty right now!

While the working title of the beer was Lapeer Mild, I've decide to call it something a bit more exciting. Henceforth, this shall be known as King Henry V's Barley Broth, in honor of the great English King and title character of the Shakespeare play. Henry V was an heroic King who defeated the French at Agincourt and married the French princess, Catherine of Valois, uniting the crowns of England and France (The Hundred Years' War).

The play, famous-at least partly-for the St. Crispin's Day Speech, is the final part of a tetralogy of plays devoted to 15th Century English kings. The speech Henry V delivers before the battle of Agincourt to rally his troops against long odds has been mimicked and reflected in so many different theatrical and cinematic performances, it has become an archetype. Two more common modern examples would be the rallying speeches of the President (Bill Pullman) in the movie Independence Day and William Wallace's (Mel Gibson) rallying speech from Braveheart.

My beer's title is a more obscure reference to a speech by the Constable of France in Act III, Scene IV, where he laments the ferocity of the English warriors:

Dieu de batailles! where have they this mettle?
Is not their climate foggy, raw, and dull;
On whom, as in despite, the sun looks pale,
Killing their fruit with frowns? Can sodden water,
A drench for sur-rein'd jades, their barley-broth
Decoct their cold blood to such valiant heat?
And shall our quick blood, spirited with wine,
Seem so frosty? O, for honour of our land,
Let us not hang like roping icicles
Upon our houses' thatch, whiles a more frosty people
Sweat drops of gallant youth in our rich fields,-
Poor we may call them in their native lords!

To which, the Dauphin replies:

By faith and honour,
Our madams mock at us, and plainly say
Our mettle is bred out, and they will give
Their bodies to the lust of English youth
To new-store France with bastard warriors.

Now, perhaps the French knight from Monty Python's Search for the Holy Grail would have a thing or two more hopeful to say but Shakespeare hadn't invented him yet. I believe this passage refers to the virtues of beer versus wine, though I can't prove it.

Grain Bill:

14 Lbs US 2-row
1 Lb US Crystal 60 L
1 Lb US Chocolate Malt
1 ounce Nugget 60 minutes
1 ounce Cascade 10 minutes
2 teaspoons Irish Moss
White Labs WLP002 English Ale yeast
OG: 1.036
FG: 1.010
ABV: 3.55%
Color: 19.36 SRM
Bitterness: 21.8 IBUs


Saturday, November 01, 2008

Teach A Friend To Homebrew Day 2008

Today is Teach a Friend to Homebrew Day. Bet you didn't know that! I registered my house as Official TAFTHBD site #130 and had a few friends over to brew. You see them relaxing around the brewing beer to the left. We brewed twenty gallons of beer today! Art brewed five gallons of an American Wheat Ale with coriander and orange peels and five gallons of a Belgian Wit with coriander, orange peels and Morrocan preserved lemons! You can see it filling the carboy in the second photo on the page. Two other Lapeer Area Brewers are brewing either today or tomorrow, as well.

I brewed ten gallons of a simple English Mild. I strayed from the guidelines a bit as I wanted to use my own homegrown hops. My US Kent Goldings would have been the best choice but there were too few of them again this year so I opted for the American favorite, Cascade. I bittered with Nugget and added a pound of light Crystal malt for malty balance. In a few weeks I'll do a tasting and record the results, here. The beer came in at 1.036 OG and is otherwise "down the middle" of the style guidelines. It should be about 3.5% alcohol by volume; a nice session beer.

We had a great time today brewing, swapping stories and drinking homebrewed beer and cider (Thanks Brandon!). My lovely wife made a tremendous pot of Texas Chili (made with Venison Stew Meat that I butchered last week). OMG! Some homemade pita chips and a bit of sour cream and the spicy chili made for an excellent meal to top off a great day. And since I started at 6 AM we didn't finish cleaning up until after 6 PM, we needed that extra pick-me-up! I think that's what TAFTHBD is all about, really.

The Mild is to the left, there...