Friday, May 31, 2013

Hefeweis City, Part I

I'm still relatively new to brewing.  I've been brewing for less than a year, but I'm passionate about it.  So it's something I talk about with my friends ad nauseum.  It's that same passion that led me to create this blog.

So when a friend expressed an interest in some of the craft beers I was talking about, I jumped at the chance to introduce him to the world of quality beer.  To my surprise, his palate progressed quickly and he was able to describe very well what he tasted in various beers and what he liked and disliked.  (He dislikes most lagers' relatively light body and neutral flavor and stouts' often roasty flavor, for the record; he's a big fan of IPA's and other hoppy beers.)

I swear, this is going somewhere.

He called me a little less than a month ago to see what I was up to.  As it happens, I was going to brew a Bavarian hefeweisen that weekend, and I invited him to join me.  To my delight he agreed, and we had a pleasant day brewing an extract-with-specialty-grains hefe.  The recipe is below:

  • 1 lb crystal 10L malt
  • 2 lbs wheat DME (60 min boil)
  • 3 lbs wheat DME (15 min boil)
  • 0.5 oz Tettnang hops (60 min boil)
  • 1 pkg Munich (Lallemand) yeast
It's a pretty simple recipe.  The original gravity is on the low end of the style guidelines (1.045 according to BeerSmith; the style guideline is from 1.044-1.052), with average bitterness (11.0 IBU), a somewhat dark color (7.2 SRM; guidelines are 2.0-8.0) and below-style alcohol content (4.2% ABV; guidelines 4.3-5.6%).

I could have bumped up the gravity and ABV by adding another pound of DME, but I wanted this to be a nice light summer "lawnmower beer"--something crisp and refreshing that won't knock you over if you down one quickly when you come in dehydrated from working outside.  The darkish color (it's still only a medium amber) is probably due to the fact that I'm using extract (for those who aren't familiar, a rather complex set of reactions called Maillard reactions tend to cause malt extract to caramelize and darken during the boil--which is why the majority of it didn't go into the boil until later).

The beer style was my friend's choice, by the way--I was leaning toward something hoppier, but he'd suggested a hefeweisen for the summer.

Our brewday went fairly well.  I had a lot of fun teaching him about brewing, and he seemed to enjoy watching me scramble around to deal with the inevitable problems that crop up (primarily boil-overs due to using an outdoor burner for the first time--one of the boil-overs was severe enough to extinguish the burner after I was out of matches, so I had to put my old Boy Scout skills to use and light a branch on fire using my smoker and re-light it the hard way).  My wife also seemed to enjoy correcting me every time I mangled a scientific explanation (she's a biology teacher).

I'll chronicle the rest of the process in a later post.

Lines on Ale

Fill with mingled cream and amber,
I will drain that glass again.
Such hilarious visions clamber
Through the chamber of my brain -
Quaintest thoughts–queerist fancies
Come to life and fade away;
What care I how time advances?
I am drinking ale today.
~~Edgar Allan Poe, Lines on Ale

I ran across this poem in Randy Mosher's excellent book Radical Brewing: Recipes, Tales and World-Altering Meditations in a Glass, and I really wanted to share it. I mean, Edgar Allen Poe is one of my favorite authors--he's not the cleanest or most rhythmic poets, but damn is he evocative. Who can forget The Raven or Annabel Lee?

For me Lines on Ale struck much the same tone. But where could I share it? Not on Facebook. I work with a youth group, and although I firmly believe there is nothing wrong with brewing beer or consuming it (in moderation), and I do share beer-related things on Facebook occasionally, I have several hundred underage "friends", and constantly discussing alcohol and drinking with them isn't in anybody's best interests. That said, I do intentionally post things on there from time to time--it's also important for them to see an adult modeling a healthy relationship with alcohol.

 In addition, Facebook often makes up a large part of what people see of you. If someone goes to a blog on homebrewing, they expect to see beer-related posts. When that's all they see of you on Facebook, they're likely to draw a much different conclusion.

 I'm active on a few homebrewing forums, but they don't provide quite the platform I'm looking for. They're great for starting discussions or asking questions, but there are things I want to share that don't really fit there. Hence this blog. Things I'm considering for this blog:
  • my own journey through homebrewing:
    • Recipes I've tried
    • Progress of various batches
    • Recipes I'm considering, or daydreaming about
  • my journey through the world of craft beer
  • other beer-related experiences:
    • Brewery tours
    • Beer forums, publications, associations, etc.
    • Beer clubs
If there's anything else you'd like to read about, leave me feedback and I'll do my best to include it. I'm also signed up with Amazon Affiliates, since I'm likely to review or suggest a number of things you can buy there. If something piques your interest or something I say tempts you to buy it, please consider using a link from my page. The links in the text will link to the item on Amazon, and I'll get a small referral fee, but it doesn't cost you anything extra. In addition, I'll put text-and-graphics links at the bottom of the post for products I discuss, so they don't get in the way of the post.