Friday, February 13, 2009

Moving to beer, part 1

I've started drinking more beer of late. This has been a two step process. The first step occurred when moving to the UK, where drinking real beer is a political stance aligning yourself with traditionalism, along with not using metric, the Euro or the 35 hour work week. We here at JABB really enjoy these traditional stances, hence our lovely decoration. More on that to come.

The recent shift to beer drinking is a shift borne of craft. I came home and drank Schlitz and whiskey, so many whiskies. Then my friends (and co-authors) let me hang out while they made beer. We were all drinking whiskey at the time (or absinthe) but I was hooked. A little while later my house mate started making beer, as it turned out one of my colleagues did. Between them all I got started and have talked about little since.

Admittedly, I'm still in the honeymoon phase. I've brewed less than I would have wished, averaging twice a month. The brew logs will be coming shortly, along with detailed descriptions of what we've been using to make the beer. But for now, I'll talk about my favorite beers of the moment.

I love anything done by Two Brothers Brewing. They are amazing in transforming hearty foreign ales into rich and strong American versions. So, bigger, more flavorful and delightfully more carbonated, though never as fizzy or sweet as the pop-lagers that pass as European beer over here. Back to 2 Bros. They make my favorite beer, the Cane & Ebel. I want to make this beer. I want it on tap and have bottles in my house. I want a soap, a breakfast cereal and a potpourri candelabra made out of it to burn in the bedroom when I'm doing my thing. Really, it is that good. The beer is super bitter, but balanced with a nice malty body and a good dose of Thai Palm sugar. We used to use Thai Palm sugar in our Caipirnhas at a bar where I mixed drinks (bar manager, if we are keeping score). The beer has a heavy does of rye, which delights me. The lovely red color astounds by neophyte beer making mind. They also make an excellent French Country ale which evokes eating cheese outside on a warm spring day watching lithesome young French women frolic in a field. The Northwind stout protects against just that, and is nicely malty with a lot of alcohol (not much in the flavor) which keeps you safe out in the mid-western winter.

I have waned in my desire to copy my favorite beers for the moment. I don't have the skills to do it correctly and not living in a draconian, puritanical state, I can buy a single beer, at the super market, to fill a craving. Or I could go to one of the many bars around town devoted to beer. Instead, I stick with experimentation, in part because it allows me to avoid knowing I cocked a beer up too badly. Unless it gives me a migrane or I find mold in the bottle, both of which happened with the last batch (NB: I expect this is because of unclean Red Stripe bottles, gifted to me by a friend with an unclean kitchen).

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