(This morning’s view of the pond.)
Several years ago (at least) I took up homebrewing beer and mead. It wasn’t something I wanted to do. It was something M wanted to do, but didn’t have time for. Because I wasn’t working at the time, he asked if I’d learn how to do it. We were living in southern Ohio and there was a homebrew association in the area to which several of our friends belonged. So, (very) reluctantly, I said ok. I’d learn. With the caveat that if my first batch of beer came out tasting like what you’d expect homebrewed beer to taste like (I’m sure you know what I mean), then that would be it. No more homebrewing for me.
Well, much to my shock and dismay, my first batch of beer was not only drinkable, it tasted good. Thus began my crazy homebrewing career in which I experimented with lots of flavors, including things not traditionally used in beer. My specialty was spruce beer, a recipe I picked up from The Complete Joy of Homebrewing. I know, it sounds weird. And at a beer competition (I only entered a few) it would probably be unofficially classified as a weird beer (that’s what all the herbed, spiced, and otherwise not-to-style beers are called by those who like to “brew to style”).
Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. It’s pretty good. The recipe ingredients include the new spring growth off of a spruce tree. If you’ve ever looked at a spruce tree in the spring you’ll notice small, bright green pine needles shooting out of the branches. That’s the new spring growth. You might not think the type of spruce tree makes a difference, but it does. The new spring growth from the Norway spruce are the best I’ve found so far. In fact, I won’t use any other kind having experimented with others that have been available to me and found the taste to be, well, not so great. Palatable, but…eh… barely.
A good spruce beer, in case you’re wondering, requires a bit of aging. Once it’s aged it mellows into a sort of Dr. Pepper or cola flavored beer. Not quite as sweet, but in that general direction in terms of flavor. Spruce needles, in the days of yore, were a common flavoring in beers in the northern latitudes as a substitute for hops which were not so readily available. Word has it that the Sitka spruce makes the best spruce beer. It would be nice to someday try a sample.
I also used to make a kickass mead. Just saying. I best not get into that or this post will be much longer than originally intended. (It already is!)
You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this. Me too. I’m approaching the half-century mark and once I get rambling about something I tend to forget where I was going.
Oh, right! Fermentation! That’s where I was headed.
I’ve given up homebrewing for a variety of reasons. M is doing the beer making now. And it’s been a couple of years since I made a mead. But I am still interested in the fermentation process so I decided to take a different route this year.