Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Brewing of The Writ's Wit

So on Sunday, May 9th, I took to the back yard of Casa MacAloney to brew the first of many beers that will be brewed on the patio.  It was also my first time brewing alone with all the new equipment I've been putting together over the last few months.  So it was really an exciting day in my book.

The recipe I used was one I lifted from for an Allagash White like beer and I scaled it to the size of my brew system using BeerSmith.  With summer right around the corner and my homebrew club's competition schedule having whites and wheats on tap for the June meeting, I wanted to try something light and refreshing.  Allagash White is amazing and I had to get some going before it gets too hot here in Maryland. 

So now to the naming of the beer.  I wanted to name all my beers after Black Sabbath songs, but for some reason that is probably unreasonable.  There is a limited catalog of songs and I could probably only take it so far.  Anyways, I figured the first one had to be named after a Black Sabbath song and because I was brewing a Wit, the only song that came to mind was the song "The Writ" off of the Sabotage album.

"The Writ" is a song that Black Sabbath wrote about all of the foolish people running the music industry back in 1975.  It's amazing that things really haven't changed at all in the last 35 years as the music industry is still run by a bunch of buffoons.  The song is powerful and timeless.

So why am I writing so much about the song itself?  Well there's a lyric in this song that kinda strikes home with my Writ's Wit recipe.  It goes something like this:  "Are you Satan? Are you man? You've changed a lot since it began."  Truth be told, I was frustrated to all hell with this beer.  The brewing process rocked and the fermentation started off like a champ.  Then I did what all brewers shouldn't do.  I was checking the gravity of the beer and smelled something rank coming from the 2 carboys.  I thought to myself "Oh shit, what happened?"  Then I got freaked out and worried.  I know that it's a big no-no to smell your beer when it's fermenting, but it's too damn hard not to.  I even had my friend Chris G. tell me not to worry.  He said "it smells fine for a wit."  I should have listened, but I didn't and worried.

To make matters worse, The Writ's Wit made its debut at a friend's party.  I had a sample that morning and was really unhappy with the beer. I can't really pinpoint what the issue was other than I thought I overdid the ginger in the recipe and didn't put enough orange into it.  The carbonation level was off too and I really didn't have the time or know-how to fix it at that point.  Unfortunately there was a lot of buildup that there was a homebrewed beer coming to the party and I didn't want to disappoint the party goers.  So I sucked it up and brought it.  Most people liked it which further proves my point that most beer drinking Americans can have a cup of piss put in front of them and if you told them it was beer they'd gladly drink it.

Well to make a long story short, after the party, I just left the two 5-gallon kegs in the basement and let it sit.  A wiseman once told me, "If you make a shitty beer, let it sit for a while and who knows what will happen.  Whatever you do, don't pour it out."  So taking these amazing words of wisdom (or whizdom in the case of my pissy beer), I let it sit a month.

Saturday, June 26th was my wife Manina's 30th birthday.  She is really proud of my brewing and wanted all of her friends to sample what I have made, even though I didn't like it.  She probably thought I was being too hard on myself.  Either way, it was her birthday and I threw a keg of The Writ's Wit on ice.  As I was hooking up the party tap and CO2 canister to it and took my first sample, I was floored.  What was really a disappointing beer turned into a delicious, refreshing summer beer.  This is what I wanted!  People loved it.  Hell I even kicked a whole 5-gallon keg in about 30 minutes.  When it was gone, people were asking for more. Who would have thunk that it would have turned into such a good beer?

Well with that experience out on the table, here's the important part of this blog.  Lessons learned. 

1)  Don't smell the beer as it is fermenting - People say it all the time and doofus' like me never listen, but it is really true.  At the point it is fermenting, your beer is a work in progress and not complete.  So why judge it as if it were?  Don't worry.  Sit back.  Let the yeast do its work and relax.  Most of the time, if you have a sterile environment, everything will turn out OK.

2)  If it's yellow, let it mellow - I guess this is in reference to all beer in general.  Once you are done with your fermentation and it is ready to keg (or bottle), don't judge your beer too hard or get discouraged enough to dump it out if it doesnt taste exactly the way you envisioned it.  In my case, I could have tossed the whole batch and it would have been a HUGE mistake.  All it needed was a little time to mature and let the flavors settle out.  We are not talking long my case, it was about 3 weeks and it transfered into a decent beer.

3)  Have some damn confidence in yourself - This is the last thing I leave you with.  I'm normally a confident guy, but in this case I had no confidence in what I was doing (mainly because I was brewing alone for the first time).  This lack of confidence could have really tanked my homebrew right out of the gate.  The key here, if you lack confidence, is to think back and remember the steps that you were taught on homebrewing.  Whether it's from a beer making class you took, learning from a buddy, or reading a book, the steps have all been laid out for you.  Before you brew, sit back....think about things....Do you have all your supplies?  Do you have all your equipment?  Do you have a step by step plan so you don't forget anything?  If so, have some confidence, step up to the plate and knock your homebrew out of the park! 

So that's that.  The last keg of The Writ's Wit will be consumed at my friend Brandon and Steph's housewarming party later in July.  Should be a grand old time.  In the meantime, it's time to prepare my second batch.  I have the whole month of July and most of August where I'm in town, so I'm really planning on hitting the back patio to brew up about 3 or 4 batches of beer during this time.  Should be fun now that I have the confidence that I need to crank out some amazing beers.  You can read about them here in a few weeks.

Thanks for reading.  Best of luck with your homebrew.  Cheers!


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