Happy New Year! Have you made your annual resolutions? How long do you think they’ll last? Hey, I’m the first to admit that I make up a laundry list of resolutions that last a couple of weeks and then…. well, never mind. But this year is different. This year my resolution comes in a bottle. Wheeee! That’s my kind of resolution! I’ve created a recipe for my own beer, which I am making today, the first of January, 2012. And it is appropriately called Resolution Ale.
My husband, The Dude, has been home brewing beer for about two years. In that time he has learned a lot about the art and craft of brewing, and I guess I’ve gleaned some of that knowledge by osmosis. We were discussing what beers to make in the new year and I suggested a lighter ale, since he’s been making a lot of dark beers and stouts lately. I said we should call it Resolution Ale, in honor of the new year. Well, before you know it The Dude suggested that I create a recipe and make this beer my own. So that’s what we’re doing.
Resolution Ale is an American Pale ale with notes of citrus. It has both Citra and Amarillo hops (great for citrusy/grassy flavors) as well as Grains of Paradise. Doesn’t that sound pretty? Beer is water, grains/malts, hops, more spices depending upon the recipe, and yeast. I’m using Belgian Biscuit and Golden Promise grains which are light and biscuit-y, along with honey and an organic light malt syrup. The aroma of the wort on the boil is like toast. Wort is unfermented beer. Amarillo hops are added to the wort and it brings out an earthy quality almost like a field of cut hay on a warm summer day. It’s really a lovely aroma! After that boils for what seems like forever (brewing is not a quick process) the Grains of Paradise are added and then the Citra hops. The Citra hops smell like grapefruit, which I love. I said to The Dude that someone needs to come up with a hop perfume. They smell so fresh and alive. There’s a million dollar idea – you’re welcome.
Once all the hops have been added and the boil comes to an end, then the fun part of cooling down the wort begins. The wort must be cooled down to around 78-80 degrees (farenheit) in order to add the yeast, and it has to happen quickly to inhibit any bacteria from spoiling the wort. This is where the fun equipment comes in. The wort chiller is a coil of copper tubing with cold water running through it. It is amazing how darned fast that liquid cools down – a matter of a few minutes.
After it’s cooled it is transferred to a glass carboy and spring water is added to bring the total to 5 gallons. Take measurements for specific gravity – this pertains to the alcohol content. Don’t ask me about it – that’s The Dude’s domain. Pitch the yeast on top of the wort, add blow off hoses for an air lock and let it sit in a dark closet for a week. After that we’ll add more hops and let it finish fermenting for another week or two. Then we bottle and let it condition for a few more weeks.
I’ll post more photos during the coming weeks of the fermenting process and bottling. Six weeks from now we’ll be having a frosty cold one that I created. Hopefully it will serve as a reminder of my new year’s resolutions and help me keep them!