Six months have passed since I was last in the States. It was a long time without brewing. I came back feeling a bit apprehensive, somewhat doubtful that my brewing abilities didn’t atrophy. Nonetheless I was eager to turn around something quick, and so just a few hours after my return, I walked over to Bitter & Esters to pick up ingredients to brew a new version of my summer session ale, now named Lazy Day Ale. While I might enjoy this beer on such a day in just a few weeks, brew day was anything but lazy, exercising my new knowledge of brewing water as well as trying out some new beer body building techniques.
It is taking me quite awhile to acclimate to cooking in England. The kitchen here is not well-stocked on cookware, and many of the pieces of equipment I use most often in the US are not easy to find at an affordable price. When I have found a deal, it has more than once come at the cost of horrendous quality. A cast iron skillet was high on my priority list, but the first one I order (for a bit more than a standard Lodge cast iron in the US) cracked while I was seasoning it. However, failure on this front was not an option.
Contrasting with my last brewing adventure with pomegranates, this ground is relatively well-tread. It seems few homebrewers (and even several commercial breweries) can resist the oxymoronic pun of a rye wit. How did I fall into the trap (other than the oxymoronic pun, of course)? I remarked to my brother that I wasn’t sure what to brew next and he suggested a rye beer. Only having had a rather harsh rye IPA, I decided to do some research about what rye is all about.
My first brew in this apartment (the Saison du Pom) was also my first all-grain batch using a mash tun. Things went smoothly with that brew, and I actually got the sense, working in this new space, that I would have enough room to take advantage of some upgrades of my brewing apparatus. At first it was a new thermometer, then I started eyeing a new brew pot, and soon enough I was scouting out prices on soft copper tubing. Continue reading →
Pomegranate season seems like it’s been gone for far too long. With so many varieties of berries readily available during the hot months, it’s been getting hard to keep that delicious fruit off of my mind. It wasn’t long before I started to wonder if anyone is brewing with it. With the warm weather and pomegranate’s natural sweetness and slight tartness, a saison balancing refreshment with savory acidity and tartness seemed like a very good idea indeed.
One of the baking surfaces that Slice has really raved about is the Baking Steel. My understanding is that steel has similar thermal mass to a stone, but has much greater thermal conductivity, and so can move heat to your pizza much more quickly than a stone. This results in more oven spring (i.e. water in the dough vaporizes more quickly, creating more bubbles and pockets in the dough) yielding an airier crust with greater char. Of course, if you click the link to this particular product, you’ll find that it costs $75. That’s quite a bit more than I would venture to spend. Much like I eschewed a pizza stone and opted for quarry tiles, I decided that instead of shelling out for a Baking Steel I would simply buy a plate of hot-rolled A36 steel and adapt it to my purposes.
I’ve been fermenting beer in my bedroom for two reasons: 1) it’s the most reasonable place for me to waste space in our apartment and 2) the temperature is as much as 8 degrees F cooler than elsewhere in the apartment during the cold months. Spring is finally here, and while I’m grateful for the opportunity to walk around and explore new parts of the city with Colleen, my bedroom will now be too warm to ferment in. I needed a solution for keeping the beer cool in a warm room while the yeast are throwing a hotter party than a hip-hop superstar.