19 January 2012

When life give you malt...

We have been settling deep, deep into life in central Pennsylvania. It's a wonderful part of the country, with friendly neighbors, safe streets, and sheep farms. Sometimes it can be hard to come up with things to do, especially when winter comes and it just hurts the face to be outside for too long. So a couple of weeks ago, we made beer. I've cooked bread, meatballs, sausage, lasagna, and even crawfish etouffee, but this was a new recipe to me. Fortunately I had the expert help of my son R., who was willing to pitch in as long as he got to taste the result.
Brewing required a vessel big enough to handle five gallons. The only one we had that fit the bill was the aluminum pot that we use to fry turkeys.

We mixed in hops, malt, honey, bitters, and heather blossoms.

The yard and kitchen literally smelled like a brewery. After settling the sticky thick wort that resulted into a glass carboy that looked like the water bottle on top of a bubbler, we added the yeast and tucked it away to ferment. For three weeks, it bubbled away in the bottom of a closet behind the laundry.

Last weekend, we used a siphon to rack it out of this fermentation chamber, and bottle it up with a fun capping device.

So long as most of the bottles survive without exploding, we should have a tasty liquid treat to try in a couple of weeks. It may be premature to report since the beer hasn't had the proper time to mature, but the sneak sample we took while bottling had the perfume and taste of our fraternity basement.

A friend asked me yesterday if I was going to write another book. I was happy to reply that my life was comfortably quiet and safe now, and I had no need to write anything. It has been a long awaited bit of happy news to have the troops home from Iraq. Now when I speak about the hospital in Balad, I can say when we WERE at war in Iraq. Hopefully it will be the same soon with Afghanistan.