found drama

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A brief summary of recent brewing

by Rob Friesel

While a more thorough re-telling of my homebrewing hiatus seems worthy of its own post someday, in the spirit of writing more and trying to keep that running log of my brewing adventures here (it’s been a while!), I’ve decided to summarize the brewing I’ve managed to do since returning to Vermont in 2021.

Rob Friesel, pouring a bucket of honey into the whirlpool vessel on the braggot brew day at Black Flannel.

Huginn & Muninn

Huginn & Muninn (first pour!)

April 2022

Being good friends with the founders of both Black Flannel and Groennfell, a collaboration seemed in order to — at least in part — celebrate my return to Vermont. We scaled up my prize-winning braggot (Diplomatic Mission) and released it under the name Huginn & Muninn.

Feats of Strength

Festbier brew day

July 2022

Speaking of Black Flannel, my Tilde Festbier provides the foundation for Feats of Strength, the brewery’s seasonal pale Oktoberfestbier. While the plan was for me to help out with the 2021 brew day during my visit, the logistics proved intractable. On the other hand, when it came time to brew it for 2022… it helped that I was living right down the road again.

Mashers Saison

Mashers Saison (Home Brew #107)

July 2022

Finally an actual homebrewing session! I made it (for the first time…?) up to a Mashers club brew. We brewed Jay’s saison recipe. I fermented with my trusty ol’ Belle Saison. I was reasonably pleased with the outcome, but it wasn’t great either. I scored it 28/50 with my overall impression section of the scoresheet reading:

Good example of style — recognizably a Saison but suffers from a series of minor deficiencies. Ester expression leans to banana which is inappropriate — check yeast strain and/or fermentation schedule and/or health of pitch. Slightly under-carbonated for style (doesn’t help) and slightly under-bittered … UNLESS it could be dried out more.

“Check yeast strain” — can’t believe I’m bad-mouthing Belle Saison.

2022 Chapin Crush Cider

Well well well look who finally carbonated…

October 2022

While I wouldn’t boast about my cider-making skills, circumstances of my 2021-2023 living situation made it one of the ways that I could still play the fermentation game. And since Chapin Orchard is right down the road… How could I not bring home a few gallons? Much like the circumstances of the brewing hiatus are worth their own post someday, so is the full tale of the 2022 batch of cider. (Short version: we intended to ferment 10 gallons, but wound up only fermenting about 6, and my car got to smell like apple cider vinegar for a while.)

The cider itself was pretty tasty, though it never quite carbonated to the level I wanted. On the other hand, it received a very serviceable score of 34 in competition.

Feats of Strength (again)

2023 Feats of Strength brew day

July 2023

I guess it’s just an annual thing now: I take the day off from my day job to play at being a brewer for a day. Which mostly means that I push the buttons that Dan tells me to push, and then I rake out the spent grain from the mash tun.

But it feels good to know I still have some small part in bringing “my” beer to life each year.

2023 Chapin Crush Cider

2023 Chapin Crush Cider

October 2023

Unlike 2022, all 10 gallons made it home this time … in the carboys where they belong. With two batches, we fermented one with the Danstar Nottingham English ale yeast (which krausened like crazy) and the other with Belle Saison. The Nottingham batch was bottled as-is — just apple flavors and pleasant esters. The Belle Saison batch also got a ginger mixed in to give it some additional spice in addition to the white peppery phenolics. I’m enjoying the flavors on both so far, but like last year’s batch, neither has quite carbonated to the level that I want. I’m told it’s because I didn’t prime with some fresh yeast (something like CBC-1?) so … maybe try that with the 2024 batch?

And what’s next?

I did some work earlier this year to finally pull all of my old brewing notes out of Evernote and migrate them into Bear. I definitely got nostalgic for that 2017-2018 period where I was brewing pretty much twice a month. I don’t know that I’ll ever get back to that frequency, but I would definitely like to get something going again. Even just brewing a handful of times per year would be wonderful. I’m buying a house soon (after renting for the past 4 years) and after I get settled in, I think it will be high time to do that. Especially with the ten year anniversary of my first brew day coming up in August.

About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day. Science fiction writer by night. Weekend homebrewer, beer educator at Black Flannel, and Certified Cicerone. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

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