Sunday, November 26, 2006

Brewing time again

On his last journey to The Cities, The Hermit bought not one but two beer kits to brew at home. I figured I better get one of them done this long weekend, but of course I waited until Sunday to do it. Today's brew was a Belgian Witbier, a style I am not very familiar with. The Hermit had one on tap at a favorite restaurant in St. Paul, and he said it was good so I'll take his word for it.

Along with the usual hops, this beer calls for unusual additions like coriander and orange peel. Instead of the usual aggressive hoppiness of the beers I like to brew, this one had a more complex aroma. The malt syrup was partly if not all wheat instead of barley, so that makes for a change from the usual brew. Wheat beers tend to have a spicier, less bitter flavor. We'll see.

There is so much I want to learn about brewing. To me, for a long time hops were hops and yeast was yeast. Now I'm learning to appreciate the subtle differences between the varieties; today's hops seemed milder than what I'm used to. The yeast was described as "slightly phenolic", meaning I can probably expect it to add some fruity flavors to the brew as well as do the important jobs of fermentation and carbonation. And I was marveling at the fact that the package said it contained something like 2 billion yeast cells. Wow.

I was thinking about brewing and learning as I sampled the India Pale Ale I brewed a while back and watched the wort bubble and smelled its sweet aroma. Some people, it seems, think learning is something you do in school and once you graduate, it is to be avoided at all costs. Learning is for kids, they think. But there is so much to be learned from each day, and we adults for the most part don't get it. I have learned more in my adult life than I ever did in college or graduate school, more practical stuff, and I remember the lessons of life far more than a class I took twenty years ago. Even everyday household life offers opportunities for learning, and parenting is certainly the ultimate class. The key, I think, is not to stagnate. Try new things, and if you are set in your ways and think you can't learn something new, maybe think about why you think that way. I have surprised myself more than once.

I'm off to try something new, wild, and crazy. For some unknown reason, I thought I'd attempt calzones for dinner, with ham, cheese, and marinara sauce. The dough is in the bread machine right now.


Anonymous said...

The beer and calzones sound wonderful- good Sunday meal.

I totally agree with you on the learning. I have learned more in the last ten years than while in school. The good thing is now I want to learn, I like to learn, and I feel I need to learn.

Something that didn't seem to hip to me back then...

Eleutheros said...

Remember that it was Benjamin Franklin that said, "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."

This year I subliminated entirely as a brewer and brewed beer starting with only barley and hops. It turned out well. So I stepped off into the abyss entirely and brew a patch of barley and some hops vines in the garden. Haven't brewed with those yet but it will happen this winter and with any luck end up on my neglected blog.

the dharma bum said...

nice! sounds like fun. i've got a few friends who are all about homebrewing and have helped them a few times (making, not just drinking).

i've also had homebrew belgian with coriander in it before and it was very good. you'll have to let us know how it turns out.

cheers to learning!

Floridacracker said...

How true. Most of our learning occurs outside formal institutions. Good luck with the calzones and the brewski.

Deb said...

prairie chick- It was a great Sunday meal. And isn't it amazing how when you make your mind up to learn, it happens. Although I did fairly well in college, my mind was not prepared for that level of learning.

eleutheros- I love that quote, since it validates one of my vices. I'm looking forward to a beer post on one of your blogs...been wondering where you've been, besides arguing with Dan once in a while!

dharma bum- The coriander beer may have been the same recipe I made; we get our brewing stuff at Northern Brewer on Grand Avenue in St. Paul. I'll let you know how it turns out!

FC- You have the perspective of a lifelong learner as well as someone who gets paid to teach in a formal setting. However, I tend to think your students probably gain more wisdom from you than from the average teacher, because you have that innate curiosity.

The kids are already asking for another calzone dinner, and the brewski, well, I had to crank up the heat in the cook shed a bit to jump start the yeast. No yeasty activity yet. And, rereading the package, that was 200 billion yeast, not 2 billion like I said. Double wow.

Anonymous said...

You might look for a copy of Gene Logsdon's "Good Spirits: A New Look at Ol' Demon Alcohol" at the library (or wherever). Fascinating stuff.

Deb said...

e4- I have read that, a couple years ago, and it was a fascinating read, as is everything Logsdon has ever written. Makes me appreciate the moonshiners a bit a matter of fact, a Lutheran pastor around here is also known for his "spirits"...hmmm...:)