Archive for January, 2009

Brewing by Candlelight
January 17, 2009

Last night I brewed my first beer with Bob. In the dark.

It’s a mild, and because we embrace irony we’re calling this low gravity beer Blackout Mild.

You see, right as the wort started to boil, the lights went out all over Echo Park.  We had to do the rest by the light of two stubby little candles. Originally Bob had suggested we call the beer 28 Days Later Mild because he had devised the process to last the month-long duration of my trip here.

You don’t think about light until you have to do without it.  The yellow candlelight shifted the shadows of the normally bright kitchen, and the neighborhood cat kept coming in and jumping beside me, startling me.  Worrying over the steaming wort I felt like a witch at her cauldron.

Later we started freaking ourselves out saying it was the 28 Days Later Mild, whispering, “Turn out the light!” lest the infected find us.  And, why yes, we were drinking Bob’s home brew at the time, a delicious American Pale Ale.  Thanks for asking.

We woke up this morning to electricity and the joy of a bubbling air lock. Glory to the micro-organism!

Back in the Home Country
January 14, 2009

Lucky Baldwin's in Pasadena, California, by joedecruyenaere on flickr.

Lucky Baldwin's in Pasadena, California, by joedecruyenaere on flickr.

I’m in America for a month, on a bit of a beery safari.  I’m staying with my friend Bob who is an amazing brewer and the person who first turned me on to good beer.   So, when I arrived some fresh, homebrewed Kolsh and a super-grapefruity American Pale Ale welcomed me.

We’d decided that we’d brave the frat-guy atmosphere of the Yard House (a place that serves beer to bone heads in yard-long glasses) because they have an extensive menu of beers on draft.  Our plan was foiled when I got carded!  (To Brits, this means you are asked for ID to prove you are over 21). I was completely out of the habit of carrying ID with me, as I don’t have to do this in London.   All I had with me was my expired California ID which proved I was old enough to be the waitress’ mother, but since it was expired she refused to serve me.  A surreal moment indeed!

So we ended up at Lucky Baldwin’s in Pasadena, an “English” pub which had an array of English beers on draft that would put most pubs in England to shame.  And, unlike most British pubs, we were able to luxuriate outside in the sun in mid January wearing only tee shirts, and as evening came on we ordered another round and the fairy lights came on in the beer garden.

I ended up trying two beers I’ve been curious about, both by the American brewery, Stone.  I started with the Smoked Porter and was impressed with the sneaky smoke note, and the overall drinkabilty.  Next up was the Arrogant Bastard ale, a beer beloved of certain British friends, probably because they like saying the name.  Bob described it as a barley wine.  It did have a malty middle that I associate with a barley wine, but bookended by an oily, resinous hoppiness that coated the mouth completely.  I had a pint of this because they only serve pints here…I had to nurse the damn thing, happy it would be my last beer of the night.  My palate was done for.  It was a reminder that I am now in the US, and things could get mighty hoppy.

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