Sunday, March 16, 2008

Taking a stab at Bridgeport

Q: Hey Huisvrouw, welcome to Askablogr! I'm a lapsed homebrewer, but if you have one, I'd try a really good recipe for a small batch (5 gals) IPA in the spirit of Bridgeport Brewing Co's. Have one?
Posted by Chris DeVore

A: Hi Chris! Thanks for the link to your Askablogr widget and for this first question!

I'll do my best to answer, though I'm not a big hop head myself; you might have noticed that I'm most partial to yeast, and to fruity and/or spicy adjuncts that tend to make the big boys cry, or at least shake their heads. (I recently read an article about brewesses in Bust magazine supporting my theory that these preferences are typically pretty gendered.) I also must confess that I haven't tried Bridgeport IPA, though in my defense, I'm out of their distribution area.

So what did I do? I first consulted Beer Captured, my favorite recipe book of the moment, and then--both to get a second opinion and to respect their copyright--incorporated a couple of alternate ideas from another member who shares your love of the stuff. Finally, I made a tweak of my own to keep the total number of varieties to five, as per the description on the Bridgeport site. Since you said you're a lapsed brewer, I'm assuming that you are looking for a recipe using malt extracts as opposed to that all-grain hoo-ha. Here you go:

Mash (steep) 1 lb. 40L Crystal Malt for 30 minutes in 1 gallon of 150 degree water.

Strain this water into your brew pot and sparge (rinse) the malt with another 1 1/2 gallons water of the same temperature.

Add 4 lbs Alexanders Pale Malt Syrup and 3.5 lbs. Munton's Extra Light DME. Stir well to dissolve, then add 1 oz of Cascade hops and .5 oz of each of Williamette and Mt. Hood (substitute an equivalent amount of Chinook if any of these aren't available due to the hop shortage). Most recipes tell you to wait until the wort is boiling to add the hops, but this method--called first wort hopping--is purported to produce "a fine, unobtrusive hop aroma...(and) a more uniform bitterness."

Bring your wort to a boil and keep it there for 50 minutes. Throw in a Whirlfloc tablet to aid with clearing the beer and boil for another 8 minutes. Then add 1/2 oz. each of the following aroma hop varieties: Cascade, East Kent Goldings, and Crystal (or Hallertau Hersbruck or Liberty, depending on what's available).

Boil for two more minutes before you take the pot off the heat. Set it in a sink or two of ice water to chill it down to about 120 degrees in about 20 minutes. In the meantime, add 3 gallons of cold water to your sanitized fermentation bucket. Strain the chilled wort into this, snap the lid down, and shake it until your arms hurt to help aerate the wort. Rest for a couple of minutes and repeat the process.

(This shaking business is a refinement I've only recently learned to do myself, after watching a friend brew an all-grain batch a couple of weeks ago. I'm not ready to go all-grain or even convinced that it's worth it, but while I'm thinking that over I've been trying to improve my existing technique in a few key areas, mostly by making better use of the specialty grains through the mashing and sparging process I described above, and by working harder to ensure that my beloved yeasts have the oxygen they need to do their job.)

Hydrate and pitch some American Ale yeast--Safale 05 should be fine. Dry hop for 7 days with 3/4 oz. Cascade hops and either transfer to a secondary fermenter or bottle the stuff.

Good luck! Let me know how it goes!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

choose your poison.

OK, here's the deal. I have to post every once in awhile if I expect folks to read this. I get that, I really do. But you all need to throw me the occasional bone. Smile and nod your head. Ask me a question. What do you want this conversation to be about?

According to the blog cloud, it's mostly about beer, brewing and food...all well and good, except that I don't get the impression there are too many brewers among you. If I am wrong about that, or if you are at least favorably disposed towards brewing, speak up. I could have some rhizomes for you. Keep quiet and you risk more posts like the following, which basically amounts to What I Did Yesterday.

Wednesdays are my New Yorkiest day, hands down. I work from home, which is pretty New Yorky in and of itself, and sans the commute, I've usually got more time to walk the puppy to the park. While official sources say that "many consider Prospect Park to be the masterpiece of (Frederick Law) Olmsted and (Calvin) Vaux," the way any Brooklynite will tell it, that rating came straight from Olmsted himself as a comment on the relative poverty of Manhattanites who must content themselves with Central Park and who secretly take it hard. It was raining this Wednesday, big fat driving drops once we'd gotten to the farthest point from home without an umbrella, but then later there was long light stretched over the East River as I crossed it by Q train at 6 pm or thereabouts, and who can stay mad about something like spring?

I was headed to Union Square, where lately I've been taking belly dancing classes from a friend of a friend at a Japanese cultural center. Just last week I finally got a little hip skirt fringed with coins which swing and tinkle and are a tremendous help when it comes to telling my zigs from my zags. Imagine me there, an enormous white Calvinist, blocking the sight lines of a half dozen lithe and lovely Japanese women, swiveling my hips as hopefully as I can to the songs of the Near East. Can you do this in Akron? I didn't think so.

It's only because my friend Y. and all the others are so absurdly nice that I've persisted as long as I have, but finally this week I did something right. My arms were doing this kind of swan dive, spiraling in from the wrists and crossing my face defiantly like a bull fighter's, first one and then the other, a little something I picked up from a previous foray into flamenco dancing. I was bad at that, too, and before that in college at tap dancing, which I actually took two semesters of, the first one for the PE credit and the second one because I'd shown early promise that completely evaporated once it was revealed that our teacher could speed up all of our records with a twist of a knob on the phonograph. But last night there was hope for me again and my accumulated despair receded for a few glorious measures when Y. told me to keep dancing and the tiny, beautiful Japanese women to stop and observe my arms, which they did and then even graciously asked me later how I'd done it. That's how nice they are.

After that it was on to knit with the freaks a couple of blocks over towards the East Village. We've been meeting at Professor Thom's lately, and although their website advertises Bingo nights on Wednesdays, the real action is upstairs, where a group of boozy knitters casts on and catches up. This week a few among us had actually taken to hand spinning yarn with little weighted tops and great fuzzy hanks of wool and would have had the unspoken geek competition nailed down if it weren't for the Wii bowlers down on the other end of the bar. While I might otherwise have been tempted to scorn the hilarity of a whole bunch of women and two or three metrosexuals with specialized sensors strapped to their wrists that allow them to simulate a game that is tapped out in Milwaukee, they too were New York and New Yorky, swinging their arms at the projection screen and yawping for virtual joy.

That's it. That's what I did yesterday. What's new with you?