Friday, November 28, 2008

A Winter's T'Ale

This is a winter-warmer, done in the style of Pyramid's Snowcap or Redhook's Winterhook.  It's a big beer, with 3/4 lb. crystal malt, 1/4 lb. chocolate malt, 9 1/2 lbs. golden liquid malt extract, 3 oz. Willamette, and fermented with the same Wyeast 1728 Scottish ale yeast used for the Christmas beer. The label is inspired by the stark, snowy days of November, and the bare Winter-time deciduous forests of Nebraska.  I saw Jeremy Irons play the lead in Shakespeare's "The Winter's Tale", and I've never forgotten the cool blue lighting used in the Stratford-Upon-Avon set.

I paired the the winter imagery with an equally stark poem.  My Uncle Bob is the "knarled tree" in the story.  At age 14, my parents were both dead, and I felt overwhelmed and lost.  Bob was a rough, harsh character, with lots of crazy ideas in his head, but he was literally the only one among my aunts and uncles who reached out to me.  His tales of my parents were like those Greek myths of fierce strength and tenacity, and kept me clear about who I could be.  I didn't have my father and mother, but I had their stories, and that kept me whole.    Thank you Uncle Bob for providing the windbreak this sprout needed to survive.

Brewed October 2008.

Uncle Buck's Christmas Ale

Calvin helped me tap my "inner dork" with this pic set next to our barn (that's a goat in the window).  Yes, those are Army RPGs (rape prevention glasses).  My wife said that she "didn't know this person", and my family got a big kick out of the label.  This is the other half of the spiced Scottish-80, and it went well with our Thanksgiving meal.  The spice is well-balanced, not overpowering.  Serving this set off a round of taste-testing homemade blackberry brandy, french-style cider, merlot, shiraz, and other freeze-method liquors brought over by wife's cousin.  I'll quote my friend Gil Meyer and say, "A good time was had by all."  Brewed October 2008.  

Update December 2008:  had this one again with Christmas dinner, which we did Provence-style this year.  Went really well with the roast lamb, onion tart, spinach dumplings and Christmas bread.  The beer has rounded-out nicely.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Jeff and Brittany are a lovely couple, and I felt bad that I wasn't able to attend their wedding, so I decided to brew a Commemorative Ale to help them celebrate their first Thanksgiving and Christmas together. You can't just make an ordinary pale ale or a stout for such an occasion, so for the longest time I was stymied on style choices -- that is, until I saw the candids shot by my friend and officemate Patrick. I got this bright, hopeful feeling from the pics, and knew I had to do a Holiday Brew. Click on the label above and you'll see what I mean.

This Holiday Spiced Ale is a Scottish-80 style ale spiced with Ceylon cloves, cracked cinnamon, allspice, cardamom and mace. Made with 1 lb. dark crystal malt, 6 ½ lbs. golden liquid malt extract, 1 oz. Argentina Cascade hops, 14 ozs. Malto-dextrin, spices, and Wyeast 1728 Scottish Ale Yeast. Fermented at 68 °, and bottle-conditioned with 5 oz. corn sugar for carbonation.

Brewed October 2008. First tasting: a nice champagne-like dryness on the front end, with a sweet finish accented by the mélange of spices. A very suitable Holiday Ale.