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Archive for the ‘Not brewing’ Category

With my bottles of APA rapidly depleting as friends and family blink into the sunshine and take a refreshed liking to pale ales, we’re soon going to be out of beer. A few pints of stout and a couple of crates of random ales aren’t going to last a lengthy fermentation and conditioning period, even if brewing could start right away.

For this reason our plans are changing, and not in an exciting way, sadly. I can’t wait to accrue enough cash to buy any new gear, with the exception of a pair of site tubes destined for the HLT that is still a boiler, and the boiler which only exists in my head.

I’m also delaying ordering interesting hop varients from New Zealand (Craft Brewer doesn’t seem to be accepting orders anyway right now?). Instead we’re going to kick into 2009 brewing action with a very simple, low gravity ale just to get something in and out of the fermenter quickly. Barley Bottom’s new site is tempting me into a few modest malt purchases to tide me over, and I really ought to read Graham Wheeler’s latest edition too.

I’ll post up a recipe soon, but even as I type and survey my meagre victuals, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a gentle ale made with fuggles and goldings or similar, with a modest weight of pale malt to keep the ABV below 3.5%.

A supping beer to take us towards another payday and provide some further inspiration, then. More when I’m able to drag myself away from spreadsheets and the like…

In other news, The White Horse in Edwardstone recently finished its week long Winter Ale Festival and has already started scheming for its excellent Dark Ale Days fest, to be held in May. I have to admit that some of the stronger Winter fayre proved a bit chewy for my tastes, however Dark Star came up trumps as always with its Old Chestnut, while Oakham’s Oblivion was every bit as impresive as I expected it to be. Good stuff

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Hmmm,  ‘Winter Hiatus’ – not a bad name for a nice brew actually – maybe a ruby porter? Must think on…

Hopefully I’m nearing the end of my self-imposed brewing hibernation. A combination of factors ganged up and stopped me posting for several weeks. Chief amongst these was of course laziness, but there was more to it than that. I think.

Before Christmas we filled all our kegs and went on a  brewing break. After Christmas the whole credit crunch malarkey really hit home, resulting in me spending every waking hour (and some not quite so awake) sitting in front of this here screen, typing for the man. Of course I’d rather be messing around with grain, hops, yeast and various bits of shiny stainless steel, but needs must, and money’s been too tight to mention.

However, I do hope to get back in the swing of things soon. I have grain, plenty of hops in the freezer and no mild on tap, for a start!

We’ve had snow then floods here in East Anglia, but this weekend I’m hoping to get into the garden to clear up the havoc and pile some compost on the hop bines. I may even buy a new plant this week – the year is rolling on and plenty of rhyzomes are back in stock.

As far as equipment goes, my immediate plans are to replace my boiler with a slightly larger capacity vessel and move my current boiler to become a heated HLT rather than the current insulated job. I’m looking forward to this project, but again it’s a question of getting money together here and there which isn’t needed for more pressing matters. Like food. And beer from the local.

Aaaanyway – expect to hear from the Boxshed a little more frequently from now on, at least. More frequently than not at all, anyway, eh?

 

ps. If you’re at a loose end between 13th and 22nd February and you happen to be in the area, why not visit the Edwardstone White Horse Winter Ale Festival?  The tied Mill Green Brewery is serving up five ales (including the excellent Good Ship Arbella APA) and there will be a further 16 ales on stillage over the week, plus the usual Adnams Bitter and Crouch Vale Brewers Gold on tap. Well worth checking out – you might even catch some live blues and folk while you’re sinking a few.

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It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a man cannot live on beer alone. Nope. He also needs pickled onion flavoured Monster Munch, pickled eggs and of course, pickled onions themselves.

At The Boxshed we have been pickling free range eggs for a while now and they always go down well, both in the shed and the local pub. But last Christmas I received a brilliant book that offered all sorts of new ideas for pickling everything from wild mushrooms (yum!) to pigeons (ug!). It’s called ‘The Perfect Pickle Book’  by David Mabey and David Collison, and there’s a picture of it below. Anyway, although I do intend to jar, um, ‘Pickled Salsify Buds’, ‘Pickled Marsh Samphire’ and err ‘Pickled Quails Eggs with Rosemary Flowers’ at some point in my life, this week the book mostly reminded me that the start of November was THE time to get onions in vinegar in time for Christmas morning.

The farm shop up the road provided a few kilos of shallots, a good old 25L fermenting bucket doubled up as an overnight brine bath, and the last remnants of my raised bed coughed up a bunch of chillies grown from my brother’s plants. Various coloured pepper corns, some mustard seed and a couple of bay leaves finished off the spiced vinegar, and by bedtime on the second day these great looking jars (below) had magicked themselves in our kitchen! Good stuff eh? Now though, I’ve been told they will mostly be given away as credit crunch busting Christmas presents, so another trip to the farm shop beckons…

 

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