Brewing Toward Spring

I should say that I generally love winter.  I love snow; I love real cold, snow-crunching days; I love fires and stews and dark beers; I even like shoveling (now that I’ve moved away from my huge, sloped driveway that was a beast to take care of even with a snowblower). But it does tend to get long. So I look forward to exciting weather along the way, the next deep freeze (usually accompanied by one of those brilliantly clear skies that makes everything crystalline) or the next snowstorm. But this year we’re in the deep doldrums. We missed the big snowstorms that hit Missouri recently, and now my friends and family on the East Coast are having yet another huge storm today. Here it’s been gray now with no hint of sunshine or snow (although the gray skies certainly look like impending snow) for weeks, a long stretch of rather depressing gray, raw wet days. Blah. So, with no weather to help make the winter go more quickly, there’s only one thing to do: start thinking about spring. And of course what better way to do that than start to plan what we’ll be drinking in, say, April.

Today’s brewing session is a kind of hybrid beer. I read recently a recipe that was a cross between a biere de garde and a steam beer (the recipe really seemed like a lighter, less hopped steam, but if they want to call it a biere de garde I guess who am I to stop them?). I’ve taken the idea and added a bit of German hop, pilsner profile to it and come up with a recipe I think will be a nice early spring drink–but not really fitting any profile I know. The beer is also designed to age well in my “Beer Room” during my trip to Africa. The temperature should be just about right in there for lagering in March, so I’ll let the beer age a bit, bring out the malt profile, bottle it when I get back and then have it ready for spring drinking.

Here goes:
Steep:
— 0.5 lbs Dingemans Aromatic
— 0.5 lbs Gambrinus Honey Malt
1 1/2 gallon 170 degree water, 20 minutes; sparge with 1 gallon room temp water.

Boil:
— 7 lbs Pilsen dry malt extract (60 min)
— 1 lb honey (15 minutes)

Hops & Additions:
— 1 oz Hersbrucker, 2/4% (60 min)
— 1 oz Czech Saaz, 3.9% (60 min)
— 1 oz Czech Saaz, 3.9% (30 min)
— 1 oz French Strisselspalt, 2.9% (10 min)
— 1 oz French Strisselspalt, 2.9% (1 min)
1 Tbsp Irish Moss, 15 minutes

Yeast
— Wyeast 2112 California Lager
— Add 1 Tbsp Calcium Carbonate and aerate vigorously

We’ll see how it goes. I’ll let you know how it tastes when it’s done. On another note, I bottled my Double IPA yesterday and it tasted damn drinkable before it even got to the bottle. Looking forward to sampling it in about 10 days.

Cheers to spring and beer on the patio!

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