To brew or not to brew…

I had to spend about half the day running errands, partly because I lost Tuesday this week – here in Vermont, the first Tuesday of March is Town Meeting Day, the ultimate example of local democracy in action. I got home from my errands today well after noon and by the time I unloaded the truck, checked on the livestock and ate a late lunch, it was almost 2:00. No energy, no motivation, no real urgent need to brew. Oh well, I had a lot of beer in storage, lots of full bottles. I could afford to skip a week.

But it didn’t feel right. I felt empty, unfulfilled. So here I am, almost 9:00 pm, and the kettle is heating up.

At the South Royalton Market, we get our malt extract in 33 lb. bulk jugs. I fill dispensing bins from these jugs, and when I have poured as much of the extract out as I can, I take the jugs themselves home to rinse out and either recycle or reuse. I use them to store raw maple sap prior to boiling, but also to carry water out to the animals, sometimes, and I have even used them as small fermenters on a couple of occasions. But here’s the thing – when I bring them home, they still have a few tablespoons of extract in them, stuck to the sides, inaccessible in their current state. I pour a pint or so of boiling water in to rinse them out and save that “rinse”. Usually I am rinsing out two or three jugs at a time, so I end up with a half-gallon of what is essentially wort – which I save, of course. I boil it for 15 minutes or so, and then can it in Mason jars.

Hard to read, but the hydrometer says 1.100

Tonight I poured 16 quart jars and 10 pint jars of these “dregs” into the brew kettle, 5.25 gallons. I am waiting for it to reach boiling, when I will add 2 oz. of my homegrown Cascade hops. After 15 minutes, I will add 1-1/2 oz. of my homegrown Cluster hops. After another 15 minutes, I will add 2 oz. of homegrown Chinook hops. The boil time will be 60 minutes total, and I will then chill it and pitch a vial of White Labs Super High Gravity Ale yeast (WLP099). What will it be? Not really a barleywine, although certainly in that strength range. Before boiling, the wort measured just about 1100.  I have no way of measuring the actual IBU’s, but guestimating based on the usual % aa of these hops, it should weigh in at something like 95 or so. It’s a little bigger and maybe not quite as bitter, but I expect this to taste something like Stone’s Arrogant Bastard Ale, one of my favorite beers of the last 10 years. So I guess I will call it “Suffering Bastard”, and maybe I will serve it with little paper umbrellas…

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