Brewing beer in one-gallon batches is a blast. I can brew as often as I like and the cleanup takes 10 minutes! What's more, this type of granularity in making beer unleashes my baker's frenzy for precision. I give special thanks to my friends, who answer my seemingly hundreds of questions regarding the particulars of small-batch brewing. For this American brown, I plan to use dried mission figs soaked in Bulleit Bourbon. Whenever I use Bourbon, I think of Gwen Conley of Port Brewing/The Lost Abbey, who is a huge influence in my beer adventures.
I remember the magic of walking with my sister through the Canadian forest in search of fresh berries when we were children. Now that we're grownups, she particularly likes red ales, so I'll bring this one along the next time I see her. The recipe includes dried black currants soaked in Bulleit Bourbon during secondary fermentation for berry action.
Does anything say Winter is Over like strawberries? This fruit is a challenge and does not play nice with every beer style, as I have learned from personal experience. When Peter's eyes went round with delight upon being served this beer, I knew I had something going. The first thing you notice is the large, creamy head atop a beer that is the color of a red grapefruit. When you lift the glass, the nose is all strawberry fields. It's tasting bright right now, and the natural tartness of the fruit puts a smile on my face. I'll bring this one to my mother -- she's sure to like it. Is this beer a quick summer fling -- do I have to give my bottles away as quickly as possible before the flavor fades? Right now, it's an aroma bomb. By the way, you might notice my photos have graduated from rural outdoorsy shots to a studio feel -- a reflection of my move from the wilds of Vista, California to Los Angeles. Some say L.A. can be a bit wild too, but where are the coyotes?
A cache of strawberries makes my mouth water for a strawberry wheat beer, especially in the heat of late spring in Vista, California. I used strawberries to make another beer a few weeks ago: a peanut butter and jelly American brown ale which is now in bottle conditioning. Come on over in a couple of weeks and let's give them both a try.
A consultation with Gary Inouye at the Vista Farmers Market, Rodney Kawano Farms, led to the purchase of 22 pounds of primo strawberries. I will use the strawberries for my peanut butter and jelly American brown ale and a wheat beer to be brewed next week. Expert opinions on the use of fruit in beer was proffered by my friends at QUAFF as well as by Chris Barry at Mother Earth. Juli Goldenberg of QUAFF was especially generous with her advice. It took me from seven to eleven o'clock last night to clean, trim, chop and bag the berries, which are now safely tucked away in the freezer. For old school fun, Peter and I had The X Files running. It was the episode where Agent Dana Scully wants to communicate with her deceased father with the help of a man on death row who claims to be a channel. Classic. I want to believe these will be the best beers ever to come out of this Vista, CA brewhouse.
Wine and beer event consultant at www.lynenoella.com