Yesterday was an excellent brew day -- cool and refreshing. On the menu: Hoary Puffleg Stout, a Foreign Extra Stout flavored with Bulleit Bourbon, orange peel harvested from my parents' yard, and cinnamon. This morning, the beer is fermenting with the regularity of a jogger's heartbeat. Can't wait to taste this big stout and share it with friends.
San Diego County breweries are known for being dog friendly. An increasing number of breweries are using the ubiquitous dog bowl as an opportunity to build brand loyalty among dogs, it appears. I know plenty of dog owners who share their beer with their furry friends -- perhaps San Diego County will soon be known for dogs with discriminating palates -- and with a catalog of favorite breweries.
Gwen Conley at The Lost Abbey brewery in San Marcos, California, suggested I try making beers with citrus soaked in bourbon. In answer, I have a tincture of orange peel harvested from a tree in my parents' yard and a cinnamon stick basking in the goodness of Bulleit Bourbon. This particular bourbon has a crazy fan base in San Diego County and was suggested to me by a regular at The Lost Abbey, James Frost. I plan to use this tincture in a stout that I will brew this Wednesday. The name of the beer to be made: Hoary Puffleg Stout.
On Friday, we brewed Bee Saison -- a pink peppercorn honey saison. The idea of using pink peppercorns came from Chef Nicolette Manescalchi up in San Francisco -- thanks, Chef. My friend, Brewer Lance McCoy of Barrel Harbor Brew Co., suggested the honey. Up until this brew, I have used White Labs yeast, but for this beauty, I went with Wyeast 3711 French Saison to do it up right. I created the yeast starter the night prior and expected a vigorous fermentation after brewing, but . . . no. This is a yeast that likes heat, so I ran out to Bed Bath and picked up an electric blanket. I lovingly swaddled the fermenting saison with the blanket and cranked up the heat to medium, sending a prayer to the beer goddess Ninkasi. This morning when I awoke, the Bee Saison was vigorously fermenting. Now it's watch, wait and continue to coddle Ms. Bee Saison until she tells me she's ready for bottling. Cheers!
I had the opportunity to spend some time with James Petti of Vista's Wavelength Brewing Co. as he was milling some grain in preparation for a long evening's brew. James shared his thoughts on designing beers. "I like to think about the ingredients first," he said. "I'm constantly on the lookout for new ideas . . . taking in the aroma and tastes of grains and hops . . . evaluating adjuncts and flavoring agents. The most exotic and unique ingredients make a home in my memory and become the building blocks for my newest beers. I'm also constantly tasting beers made by others to see how my palate will respond. I like seeing how brewers play out their vision for each beer style." Thanks, James, I plan to spend my days grazing on hops and grains over at Mother Earth and spending time in my garden to find more ingredients like pink peppercorns and Meyer lemons for my future brews. Glad to hear that Wavelength is now open Wednesday through Sunday starting at noon -- my mouth is watering for your Orange Wheat Ale.
I visited Jeff Bagby, owner and head brewer at Bagby Beer Company in Oceanside, California yesterday, to gather information about barleywines. Jeff described barleywines as "Everything but the kitchen sink" wines, built to last. "This is a wine without a lot of rules," he said. "Oxidation can actually contribute to the flavor, providing a cherry port richness." I'm sold, Jeff. Time to add a barleywine brew day to the calendar.
Wine and beer event consultant at www.lynenoella.com