Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Mountain Woman Red Ale

July 10, 2012

I bottled my beer a few days before taking off to Florida for a fortnight. A two week wait for bottled beer to mature is more than I can handle. That’s why it’s best to leave the country or at least the state during the final phase. Premature top popping is frowned upon, even for newbies like me.

I am an impatient woman. I was the kid who opened Christmas packages early and re-taped so Mom and Dad wouldn’t catch me. Now I’m the adult who peeks in cupboards and bureau drawers for birthday gifts. I try to convince myself I like surprises, but the anticipation of waiting drives me mad. Beer making is aggravating therapy for those of us who want it NOW.

For me, brewing is becoming a longsuffering sport, a challenge to my very nature. After the initial brewing process, the beer fermented in the first carboy for one week. After a week, I siphoned it off into a clean jug and continued fermenting for another week. The importance of using the second carboy is debated amongst beer makers. Some argue it is only necessary when fermenting beer for longer periods of time. Others claim it is important only when using certain types of yeast. I do not know enough about the art and science of brewing to form an intelligent opinion yet. I read that beer tastes cleaner when separated from the initial dead yeast cells forming the sediment on the bottom of the first jug. It made sense to me. Clean is good. At least for now, the second carboy is part of my practice.

After the beer spent a week in the second carboy, it was time to bottle. I siphoned the beer into a sterile five-gallon bucket and added a little corn sugar boiled in water. The corn sugar serves as food and reenergizes the yeast in the bottling process. Without sugar, the finished product would have little to no head. I’m into the frothy pour of Guinness, so I go a wee bit heavy on the sugar to ensure good head. Yes, I know there is a joke here. But what can I say?

Last night while stuck in at the Tampa airport for four hours, I was thinking about beer. Stuck in Denver for another three hours on my trek back to Seattle, I was still thinking about beer. Even on the drive home from Seattle to Seabeck, I thought of beer. I walked through the front door, dropped my suitcase and backpack next to the sofa, went to the closet under the stairwell, pulled out a couple bottles and stuck them in the fridge next to the gallon of milk. I planned a few hours of sleep followed by a cold beer for lunch. It was a good plan.

I’m blogging 20 ounces in the Red and feeling little pain. Please pardon the grammar. It’s all part of the experience.

Mountain Woman Red is all I hoped she would be. There are no unpleasant surprises or aftertastes. As hoped, the aroma of Mount Hood hops shines through. Floral hints of tropical fruit combine with the warm sweetness of freshly mowed hay. The beer is deep amber in color and has a toasty base with mango and ripe banana overtones.

And then there is the head – thick & creamy, the kind that leaves a foamy moustache on the upper lip. Its exactly how I like it. I may have another before the day is done.

Mountain Woman Red & my brewing hat

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