Saturday, March 14, 2009

First Beer Commission of '09

Seems like every good group of friends have birthdays that coincide in the same month. People I knew from college and high school seem to have many birthdays in the summer. I’ve met some really excellent musicians here in Portland and it seems as though they celebrate Springtime birthdays. It’s quite a relief when April hits; no more cold, gray and rainy days, and the sun is really starting to shine beautifully. The west coast sun just feels really different from back east sunshine. I haven’t been able to explain it, but it’s something that I’ve physically experienced since my first visit to California with my sister, back in the late 90’s.
Anyhoo, back to the friendly birthdays: my buddy Greg has some friends that all share Springtime birthdays, so he has an annual party every year as his beautiful home. I attended last year and it was truly exceptional - the food was tapa style from Spain, the live music was very jazzy, the people were friendly and the beer was.....good.
After mulling the idea over for a few minutes, Greg announced at a recent piano trio rehearsal that he’d like me to brew the beer for this year’s party. Seems like I’ve been doing this a few times a year for friends of mine, and it’s a great way to show off my beers to friends and strangers alike. Although, after tasting my beers, strangers seem to become friends in a short time! Sharing my beer with people is really why I love brewing so much, and this party gives me a great opportunity to give of myself and my skills.
So, I’m preparing to have two, 5 gallon corney kegs full of homebrew for Greg’s April birthday extravaganza. The first will be an Organic Pilsner, based on the recipe that I served at my wedding two years ago. This beer is currently lagering (cold conditioning) in my shed at a steady 40 degrees F. I’ll probably transfer it to my chest freezer for further conditioning and carbonation in a week or so. The pilsner is sure to please many party-goers. It’s a good, medium-bodied light beer with plenty of hop flavor. Not too bitter and balanced nicely in the finish. I love making this beer - it requires so much attention to detail, yet at the same time it requires that you let it mature in it’s own time.
The second beer is what I am brewing today. I had initially figured out an special recipe for an English-style India Pale Ale, and then I started brewing it. As usual, when mistakes turn into great ideas, I run with it and create an entirely new concept. So, through a miscalculation, equaling in a BETTER efficiency from my brewing set up, I have come up with about 3/4 more mashed wort for boiling. This means that with the late addition of some clean, filtered water, I can, in effect, brew TWO beers today. With more wort coming out of my system than I had intended, I will end up with two, five gallon batches of beer. I think this will turn my beer into a regular Pale Ale by normal brewing standards, but that is okay by me. This serendipitous brewday will also leave the brewer with an extra batch of beer for his own enjoyment....heh heh. Lower alcohol, better drinkability, same smooth flavor and less of an overall punch - when I think about it, this is what helps to keep a party more of a gathering and not a drunk fest!

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