Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Winter Rolls Towards Spring

Well, late January and early February were fairly uneventful, brewing-wise; I got my Harrison's Wife's Ale brewed again, with a few "tweaks" to make it more modern. So, we'll call it an "interpretation."  Outside, we had Snowmageddon 2.0, which complicated life for a week or so (and continues to leave things outside a muddy, soggy, sloppy mess). I completed my beginner's beekeeping course, and got my hives built; now I need to arrange a stand for them, then I'm just waiting on the bees.

This weekend, I kegged the HWA, as well as the Scottish 80/- that I brewed back in November.  They're both lovely--the HWA came out much lighter in color than I anticipated, and the 80/- has a slight smokiness (from the yeast!) to complement the malt. My next brew day, in March, will (hopefully?) see a Kolsch brewed, depending on factors such as my mood, ingredient availability, phase of the moon...

We're working on plans to get a portion of the cellar set aside for my brewing stuff--both for storage of gear, and for fermentation/aging of brews.  The temperature tends towards perfect, especially for doing lagers slightly warm, or for further experimentation with the Scottish and Northern English styles--by my estimation, it runs up to the mid-50's in the summer, and holds around 50 or so in the winter.  Further measurements will be in order, of course.

I had hoped to check on the winter barley this weekend, but the time was never quite right for it; from what I can see, looking out the back door, it appears to be happy.  I need to set aside a moment or two to finish my ersatz-threshing of the various spring barleys (Bere, Hana, and Spratt), in the hopes of having them ready to sow when the ground becomes workable again.  I'm also hoping to get some Elder bushes/trees planted this spring, the better to play with elderberry wines and meads.

Speaking of meads, and having mentioned the bees, I'm still astonished to hear (multiple times, now) that people "start keeping bees for the bees, but stop because of the honey."  Apparently, they process of extraction is sticky and messy, and they tend not to know what to do with all the honey.  My comments, in response?  Life is sticky and messy, or you're doing it wrong.  And if you don't know what to do with a surplus of honey, you need to find some new friends and new hobbies.  I can, without trying, think of a half-dozen people who would be more than happy to take an extra gallon of honey off my hands, any time I have some.  (I won't have any before next year, but that's a separate issue.)

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