It has been 98 days since I brewed professionally. I’ve made several home brews since being the victim of Side Launch’s restructuring, but it’s not the same. It barely scratches the itch.
I miss it. A lot. I walk into a brewery and take a deep breath and yearn to walk up to the brew house. My fingers itch to mill, to CIP, to brew. I don’t though; it’s not my house and it’s really bad form. Plus I’ll look like a bit of a loon to those who don’t feel the same way about beer that I do.
Tomorrow though, I get to brew. I’m hoping it will lead to a job offer, but honestly, I’m more excited to work on a brewhouse again than I am nervous about a day-long interview. I’m as giddy as a child the night before Christmas. I can’t wait!
I took stock of my cellar* the other day, and found a few old orphan bottles of homebrew. I haven’t been drinking much at home lately other than some shower beer lagers from work, so have been bringing them to friends’ places for testing.
Blood Orange Saison
I made this back in March 2016. I was quite proud of it when I made it – it had no discernible off-flavours, was quite effervescent, and the blood orange flavour was subtle but present. I was fully expecting it to be oxidized and awful after almost a year and a half, but was surprised to find it delicious. The orange had faded to just a slight orange blossom aroma with none in the flavour. The colour had deepened somewhat, and the beer had an amazing honey and jasmine flavour to it.
I had made this in September 2016 for the GTA Brews Brew Slam competition. The taste was exactly what I wanted when it was fresh. After almost a year, the lychee aroma had faded significantly. The salt was quite dominant at first taste, but quickly faded leaving a slight lychee candy-like aftertaste.
Wild Thing Blonde
I made this in February, using a Magnotta Blonde Ale kit with Escarpment Labs Wild Thing yeast that they had isolated from an apple orchard in the Niagara region. It started at 1.048 OG, and fermented down to 1.002. I was expecting it to be dry, but it still had a good mouthfeel. The yeast gave it a marked apple taste, like a semi-dry cider. Quite delicious!
Double Oatmeal Stout with Toasted Cocoa Nibs and Niagara Cherry Juice
I am the least happy with this one. There was a bit of oxidation in both bottles we tried, and one of them was a gusher. The cocoa nibs lent a really smooth chocolate aroma and flavour to the DOS kit from Magnotta, but the sour cherry finish seemed off to me. My friends who tried it quite liked it, so it could be just me. Still, I’m going to make it again and use the whole cherry not just the juice left over from making a pie.
*and by cellar, I mean hall closet where we keep the vacuum and old crap.
I went to Hamilton yesterday to meet Renee and Robert at Merit Brewing, a new place in my old hometown. As we sat talking and drinking, I wondered why I’ve stopped writing. Other than captions on Instagram or Facebook, I haven’t played with words at all. My novel is languishing, I’m carrying around a notebook that is still empty 3 months after purchasing it (except for a grocery list), and the last post here was February.
I can’t get back the time I’ve lost dicking around on social media, hitting refresh to see what I’m missing and to watch the dumpster fire that is my neighbour to the south. But I can say enough, and devote myself to things I like doing. Like writing. And making beer.
Since the last time I wrote, I’ve changed jobs. I’m now at Brunswick Bierworks, a contract production facility much closer to home – I’ve exchanged the 40+ minutes on the 401/400 highways to about 10 minutes, and spend as much on gas in a month as I did in a week. I’ve got about 5-10 hours of my life back, to spend with my beloved, doing things, watching Netflix and not writing.
The new gig is mostly good – as with all jobs, there are pluses and minuses. Mostly pluses. The equipment is new, and everyone is still working the kinks out after a recent rapid expansion. We’re busy, and have just gone to 24/7 12-hour shifts. Not sure how I feel about working those kinds of hours yet….I’ll let you know.
It’s getting harder and harder to shake my hermit mode. Yay for being an introvert with some social anxiety! I force myself to make plans, and then force myself to not cancel at the last moment. And guess what? I have fun.
And I definitely had fun yesterday. I went to a new bar, talked to the brewer, met my friends, and drank some really good beer (the Berlinner Weisse with rhubarb syrup was delicious!). The other beers I had were very impressive, but I was disappointed that there were no dark beers on tap yet. Will definitely go back once the milkshake stout is done!
Home brewing has faltered somewhat. I made a few experiments with leftover wort kits from Magnotta – a blonde ale with Escarpment Lab’s Wild Thing yeast and a brown ale with roasted hazelnuts in secondary. I was very pleased with both of them. The blonde fermented down to 1.002, but isn’t boozy or dry. It has a really nice apple / saison flavour going on that I think I’ll replicate. I used raw hazelnuts and slow roasted them as per Clayton Hoy’s tips on the GTA Brews forum. The head retention was perfect, but next time I’ll chop the nuts a bit finer to get more flavour out of them.
Right now I have a wheat beer in the fermenter that should have been bottled a week or so ago. I am not a fan of bottling day. Maybe I can convince Keith to assist tomorrow and get it out of the way.
It’s that time again. GTA Homebrew Club’s annual competition is even bigger this year, with a record number of entries. I volunteered to judge a few sessions because 1) it’s fun, 2) I need the practice and 3) it was held at Amsterdam which is around the corner from me.
I have learned to abstain from anything IPA-ish as my system gets a tad bitter when exposed to too much bitterness, and I judged some English and German categories. I was distracted at one point when I saw my beer, a Lychee Gose, poured at the next table.
It was a bit of a last minute brew. I had had a salted lychee soda when in Japan last year and it made a lasting impression. I was browsing through my local asian supermarket when I saw a bag of lychees, and inspiration hit. I managed to make, sour, ferment and package the beer just in time to enter. I had no idea how it tasted. I was a bit nervous when I saw how long the best-in-class judges were taking over it.
Seems I had nothing to be nervous about. It took second place in a very full category, and was up for the Henderson Prize!