Apparently possession of homebrewing supplies combined with seditious views can now get you charged with terrorism in the USA. I hope the new photoset by Rachel Rawlins documenting my most recent brewing activity will suffice to show that the suspicious-looking bottles currently on my counter are perfectly harmless. The 72 photos clearly show that my level of technological sophistication wouldn’t be enough to produce an effective water balloon, let alone a Molotov cocktail.
For any homebrewers who might be reading this, it’s a new recipe, and a preliminary taste at bottling (before addition of the bottling sugar) suggests that it will be floral and aromatic but possibly not quite bitter enough. It’s an unhopped beer, i.e. a gruit, with alehoof (ground ivy, gill-over-the-ground) as the main antiseptic agent and Norway spruce tips and lemonbalm as the other major herbs, along with juniper berries and coriander seed. Malts included 8 lb. 2-row pale malt, 1 lb. Breiss Victory, 1 lb. Western Munich and 1/2 lb. caramel 120L in a single-step infusion mash. I added about a pound of honey at mash-out.
This was my first spruce beer, and I was concerned not to let the turpentine flavors come through, so I added only about 2 quarts of fresh, very young spruce tips 15 minutes before the end of the boil. Based on the preliminary tasting, this strategy seems to have succeeded. I’m not proud of using corn sugar at bottling, but I had an old package of it lying around and was all out of dried malt extract. We rushed the fermentation a bit so we could get it in bottles in time for Rachel to bring back a couple in her luggage. So it’ll have to be conditioned in the bottle for a bit longer to compensate.
Rachel was a big help, especially at bottling time, and certainly deserved a larger share of the haul. Do watch the slideshow or otherwise browse the complete set, which includes many cultural and natural interludes and I think conveys just how much fun this kind of experimental brewing can be.
UPDATE (May 21): Rachel has written her own blog post about “Brewing with Bonta.”