Friday, February 11, 2011

Alternate (Reality) Brewing

I used to read an awful lot of science fiction (or a lot of awful sci-fi - if you'd rather). A recurrent idea (a sub-genre, even) is that of the alternate history, and its close relative the parallel reality / universe. "What if?" the author asks. What if the Axis Powers had been victorious in WWII? ("The Man in the High Castle" - Philip K. Dick and if you don't read Mr Dick, you should). Outside SF, there's a famous collection of essays If it had happened otherwise. There's Robert Sobels "For want of a Nail" The tradition goes way back. Livy had a go, I'm told.

Many-worlds theory (or "interpretation") implies that this stuff needn't be fiction. Far-out or what?


My question, "what if the monks of Furness Abbey were brewing now?" What if it was us? Would we have a "abbey" beer round here? How would it be influenced by our modern lay brown British beer tradition? It's said that some of those yeasts we think of as being "Belgian" started out in Scotch ales. How weird is that? We'd be using English hops rather than continental ones, for sure. But which? Goldings, Fuggles? Or more modern varieties? Continental "Caramalts", or good old crystal malt?

Only one way to find out. Let's brew a sort of South-Cumbrian (or North Lancs) Dubbel.

It'll be fun.  Fun.  Not a research project. Fun. i.e. don't tell me Belgo Abbey and Trappist beers are firmly within the local brewing tradition etc...etc...


Baron Orm said...

If you brew a Dubbel then make sure you bottle at least one bottle of it for me!

I'm 'happy' to tried experimental beers as well ;)

I didn't know that the yeast was originally from Belgium - were the Scots doing anything interesting with it at that time I wonder?

HardKnott Dave said...

Thinking Baron is right. Isn't the current Dubbel Abbey style based on Scotch Ale or something? I could be wrong, I don't pretend to be a beer historian, there are many others that know better.

StringersBeer said...

It's in the fermenter now. The only suitable(?) yeast I've got is that t-58 stuff. We'll see how that works out, or whether I should have taken the trouble to grow something else up.

Flagon of Ale said...

I think the world of beer is an interesting microcosm of the alternate history theory. British and American brewing cultures are like alternate realities.

I don't know about T-58 but a British/Belgo beer should be at home with some sort of goldings hops and nice, earthly malts.

Billy Cheer said...

Ram it full of Goldings, it'll be great

Flagon of Ale said...

I have thought about this in the past. Beer is kind of a microcosm of the many-worlds theory. US and British brewing cultures are so different and really have their roots in the same place. Fascinating what a little change in political attitude or geography can have. It's even more pronounced in the world of cheese.

Anyways, Belgian beers are not necessarily too far off from British beer. Goldings hops and nice, earthy malts would be at home in either