On a hazy, gray and drizzly June 11, the Lady Falcons flocked to The Home Wine, Beer and Cheesemaking Shop in Woodland Hills to brew a Wee Heavy, the strongest of Scottish beers. This is a rich, malty, caramel-forward beer with complex, sip-by-the-fire flavors appropriate for good friends, fine talks and late nights. Our leader was Jenna Bonney. The team included Kyrsten Beidelman, Nancy Gold, Christy Borgman, Jill Updyke, Kerry O'Rear, and me.
Brewing on the Maltose Falcons 50-gallon system is at once comforting for the familiarity yet fraught with responsibility of the excellent outcome.
Nancy Gold prompted us to share our brewing stories as we pulled out the Maris Otter (87%), crystal malt (4%), Scottish carastan (4%), honey malt (2%), melanoiden malt (2%) and chocolate pale malt (1%). Our batch size: 40 gallons. Our lunch: pizza and Big Salad. Provisions and beer were an embarrassment of riches supplied by the team. The most exciting: a blue cheese made by Nancy Gold. Long have I yearned to make cheese, and to my delight, one of the brewers, Kyrsten Beidelman, makes instruction available via Hipcooks Los Angeles. I will be signing up for classes.
One does not simply walk into a Lady Falcons brew day without bling. I was looking for the feel of a vacation and asked Nancy Gold if she could create a set of earrings evocative of the sea from her Ocean Glassworks earring collection. She put them together on the spot!
We emptied and cleaned the mash tun and the Lady Falcons set to boiling the wort. The boil was 90 minutes. At the 60 minute mark, we added 9.1 oz. of Pilgrim hops.
Thanks to Jenna's planning, we each took home five gallons of wort. Lady Face Ale Companie graciously provided fresh Chico strain yeast. To this we added WY1728 Scottish Ale yeast after oxygenating the wort. Original gravity: 1.094. Estimated final gravity: 1.026.
About one week later, my five gallons are fermenting at a cool 56.5 degrees F. Today, I begin the process of slowly raising the temperature to about 70 degrees. My friends and homebrew club members at the Society of Barley Engineers are weighing in on this phase of the fermentation, along with the Lady Falcons. Thank you to Jenna Bonney for an incredible experience, Matt Myerhoff for organizing the brew, Ladyface Ale Companie for sharing fresh yeast, and the the Home Wine, Beer and Cheesemaking Shop for an incredible brew day. And I have a very special set of earrings from Nancy Gold to commemorate the event. And this poster, which appears on our Club wall, sums it up: Alcohol is a Solution . . . to friendship and a maker community.
My article on temperature control has been published by HomeBrew Talk. A big thank you to the brewers who contributed their knowledge. Check it out.
Say hello to my little friend, a spare drill that my father pulled from his garage. I bought the impressive bit to drill a hole in the top of my fermenting bucket so I could install a Thermowell. Now I know exactly what is happening with temperatures during fermentation, thanks to a suggestion from Thomas Peters, Head Brewer at Belching Beaver Brewery. Thanks to Matt Babineau of the Society of Barley Engineers for sharing information on how to accomplish the project. Thanks again, Dad, for the vintage drill.
Homebrewer and recognized beer judge