Monday, September 27, 2010

Leave it.

As our old mate Marcus Aurelius always used to say:
"Begin the morning by saying to thyself, I shall meet with the busybody, the ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial. All these things happen to them by reason of their ignorance of what is good and evil. But I who have seen the nature of the good that it is beautiful and of the bad that it is ugly, and the nature of him who does wrong, that it is akin to me, not [only] of the same blood or seed, but that it participates in [the same] intelligence and [the same] portion of the divinity, I can neither be injured by any of them, for no one can fix on me what is ugly, nor can I be angry with my kinsman, nor hate him. For we are made for co-operation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of the upper and lower teeth. To act against one another then is contrary to nature; and it is acting against one another to be vexed and to turn away."

Hippy, or what?

Friday, September 24, 2010

The feet of freedom.

"Postwar Britain saw little need for the temperance move-
ment. In 1951, the govemment refused to pay for a representa-
tive to a World Health Organization meeting on alcoholism on
the grounds that the problem did not exist in Britain. This
claim was in one sense a tribute to the work of the temperance
movement; however, it also revealed the temperance move-
ment’s decline. The spirit of the 1960s was freedom, summed
up by Sir Jocelyn Simon’s peroration at the final reading of the
Liquor Licensing Act of 1962: 'Now is the time to dance. Now
is the time to stamp the floor with the feet of freedom!' "
Alcohol and Temperance in Modern History: An International Encyclopedia

Friday, September 17, 2010

Beer. Is. Not. Art.

Alright then, why isn't beer art?

Well Phaedrus, that's basically because it's useful. And explicable.

OK, so if it's not art, it can't be conceptual art?

Right you are Phaedrus. You're as sharp as a tack today, aren't you?

Ah but, it can be "concept" beer can't it?

You mean a beer that stands in relation to conformance with traditional brewing styles or processes as conceptual art might stand in relation to formalism?

Er, yes?

Well, no, Phaedrus. That's cock isn't it. Your "concept" beer must still be brewed using traditional processes even if some of your parameters are extreme.

But what about "style busters" like Black IPA, surely you'll have to admit that...

Listen Phaedrus, I don't have to admit anything. And anyway, Black IPA is usually stout. Or possibly a very dark bitter. Or a strong ale.

Ah, so it's got you questioning your categories - that's conceptual.

No, Phaedrus. It depends on the particular product that you're talking about. Some are recognisably stouts, some bitters, and some will be judged strong ales. Because you sell me a product that is beer, is brewed, it's just beer.

So could there be a concept beer?

I suppose there could be, Phaedrus. Perhaps a beer that drank itself. Or a beer that only existed as a written description. The concept would have to be more significant than the execution (of the brewing process, or the marketing) or the act of consumption.

Let me get this right then. You say that a beer existing as a genuine brewed product, that I can buy in a shop, take home and drink, can't be (a) art or (b) concept?

Bingo, Phaedrus. Come on, let's go to the pub. They've got some of that BrewDog on.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

So... Damsons. eh?

We have these damsons.

I'm going take a pile of freshly-picked, unwashed damsons, smash them all to pieces, and let them sit around for the wild yeast (etc) on them to start work.

Then I'm going to dump them into some beer that I have.
(Dark, 5.5%, lightly hopped)

I'll leave it alone for a while and then bottle it for Chrimbo.

Why wouldn't that work?

The damson juice seems to be about 16 brix so I'm guessing that the fruit is between 5 & 10% sugar by weight. What kind of sugar? I don't know that it matters, but I remember reading that plums (and damsons I'd guess) have a higher proportion of their sugar as glucose than most fruit.

So, 10kg of fruit in 80 litres of beer is what I'm starting at. Some of the little guys are quite tart and there's a fair hint of bitterness. I bet there will be some bitterness from the stone also.

My prediction then: slightly tart, a little astringent and a tad stronger than the base beer - but probably not more than 6%. Colour? Predominantly brown I should think. Purple would be fantastic, but I'm afraid that's not going to happen.

Looking forward to it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Something about beer.

It's that time of year when we make our strange "strong ale". The one where we do everything wrong.
We go very easy on the hops.
We ferment it hot.
And we chuck in a random handful of spice*.

Why? Oh, why the hell not.

It goes off like a rocket. I'm racking it today - it smells of alcohol and burns your tummy, don'tcha know.

"Genuine Stunning" 6.5% Usually on sale from November.

*This year it's mainly Grains of Paradise and a tiny bit of Coriander (the small seeded variety, but only a tiny bit).