Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Vintage Time!

I can't remember where I read it, perhaps Pete Brown's "Hops and Glory", but there is a story that in the making of the British Empire there were two foodstuffs that were vital, beef and beer. Wherever we founded a colony we sourced the local beef, but made sure that the beer came from home - random thought, imagine if under the reign of George I there had been a United Kingdom of Great Britain, Ireland and Hannover, some of those old beer styles might still be around.

Whether the English that came to the New World landed in Virginia with a view to making money or further north to establish a colony of Puritans, they all brought their beer with them. Mourt's Relation, the major primary source for the Plymouth Colony, says that they chose their final landfall partly as a result of running low on beer. English beer clearly had a reputation with some of the native Americans as it was one of the first things asked for by Samoset, having strolled through the woods and greeted the newcomers in their own tongue.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and is the day when my Samoset Vintage is officially ready for drinking. I say "officially" because I took a bottle to our homebrew club prior to entering it in the Virginia Beer Blitz to help me decide whether it is an old ale or a barleywine. I am aware that in reality there is no difference, but I had to choose the most suitable BJCP sub-category. The beer itself received an Honorable Mention, so I guess it is pretty good!

On top of a base of Munton's light DME, I added chocolate malt, Briess Special Roast and Caramel 40. The hopping was a blend of Admiral, Northern Brewer and East Kent Goldings, to give me 59 IBUs and all that was fermented with my good friend Nottingham. I ended up with an abv of 9.3%. Bottled in January, it has sat in the cellar at a fairly steady 60 degrees Fahrenheit for 11 months.

Next weekend I will be brewing the 2011 vintage, the recipe really hasn't been finalised yet, though with the size of mash tun being somewhat on the small side, I will be using more DME to bump the gravity.

Well, rather than wittering on, have a happy Thanksgiving people!

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