Saturday, November 7, 2009



Wildfires are mixed blessings:  they destroy homes and vast swaths of forest and foliage, yet a fire can be a cleansing event, clearing the forest floor of dead debris, and preparing ground for new growth.  2009 has been such a year for people too, killing off old careers and old companies with too many deadfalls, and making room for new enterprise. That’s both terrifying and freeing.  That fresh start comes with a human price:  lost careers, lost lives, and sometimes lost hope.  But the end to things also creates an un-crossable firebreak in our lives too -- there’s no hanging on to something that’s been completely destroyed: you have no choice but to build from scratch and create something new.  When the fire’s gone, weep no more for the old things.  Sweep the ash from your heart.  Build again.


This beer was brewed during the 2009 Station Fires in California, and took its inspiration from that fire.  It’s big, red and woody, with a firery intensity from the hops.  Miller may CLAIM to be tripple-hopped, but this one really is:  hopped for bittering, hopped for aroma, and hopped again after fermentation, creating a coat-your-tongue intensity reminiscent of Pizza Port’s Shark Attack, or Pike’s Tandem Double, both of which are huge, spicy, Imperial Reds.  Here’s the recipe:

  • 7 lbs Ultralight LME
  • 2 lbs. 2-row barley
  • 1 lb. flaked wheat
  • 1 lb. Crystal 75L
  • 8 oz. rye
  • 8 oz. Munich
  • 2.8 oz. Carafa
  • 1 oz. Magnum pellet hops (AAU13.1%)(bittering)
  • 2 oz. Centennial pellet hops (AAU10.4%)(aroma)
  • WLP 002 English Ale yeast
  • 2 oz. Columbus pellet hops (dry hopped)
  • 1 oz. French oak chips

Fermented at 68° for two weeks, then transferred to secondary for dry-hopping and to sit on the French oak chips for another two weeks.  Racked again to get the beer off the hops and oak, then cold-conditioned for three weeks.  Bottled with 6 oz. corn sugar.

The label features an amateur photo taken August 30, 2009, near the Mount Wilson Observatory.

Brewed August 2009, and bottled late-October 2009.