Friday, May 1, 2020

The Session: Where I'm/It's At.

Well, it has been a while. Since there was a proper Session. Since I wrote a thing on this blog. Glad to be prodded. I think about blogging often, but then that work thing gets in the way, putting me in front of the screen and thinking about beer, until I don't want to be in front of the screen anymore, and then I only want to drink beer and not think about it anymore.

Not complaining. I'm doing well (hey, thanks for asking). We're out on the farm in rural Missouri, about an hour's drive from St. Louis. Easy to social distance here, among the chickens and turkeys and rabbits and beagles and catfish. Lots of space to run the hounds and hunt for morels (found none; only ticks). Lots of room to homebrew (every couple of weeks) and smoke meat (every couple of days). A well-stocked beer fridge. We're healthy. I have a job. I'm lucky. I could do this a while. Tired of the home-schooling, sure, but that's manageable.

No FOMO, because there's nothing really to MO on, is there? Plenty of F, but not OMO.

In the absence of travel and going out, we have a daily family happy hour at 5-ish. Lots of drinking and wanton snacking is getting us through this pandemic thing. What to drink though? Here are some highlights:

KC Bier: a German brewery that happens to be in Kansas City. All German ingredients, decoction mash, spunding, the whole bit. The Helles is basically perfect, with more malt character than most of the thin, pale things that American craft brewers call helles. The Pils is just as good, but with more hops. Don't sleep on the (popular, top-selling) Dunkel or seasonal bocks either. We actually can't get KC Bier in these parts, but my in-laws traveled across the state and brought back several sixers of Pils and Helles, because they are good people. I'm thinking about those beers now, as they sit up there in the cooler. It's comforting.

Make believe: As a family we took a "trip" to "Belgium" a couple of weekends ago. Set up a faux-Belge café. Put on the flat cap. Drank all the gueuze. Snacked on gouda cubes with celery salt while playing Brel. Cooked waterzooi, pâté, moules frites, and shrimp croquettes. Went hunting in the "Ardennes" for a little garden gnome. And naturally we stocked up with whatever Belgian beers we could find locally: Chimay Bleu, Saison Dupont, St. Bernardus 12, and a few bottles of Orval. There were also some large 75cl Duvels apparently bottled in 2016, and now badly oxidized, a taste that does more to evoke random Belgian cafés in my mind than you can possibly know.

Beer Drop: You know, they will just send beer to your house these days. While I'd rather be holing up out here in the country during these weird, weird times, I admit to being a bit jealous of city folk living within the delivery zones of top neighborhood breweries. (Or in the zone of the Churchkey beer shop in DC, which will send growlers of Schönramer Festbier to your door.) There are apps for ordering beer and booze to your house too, but not many of them know what to do with our far-flung address. Found one service though, Beer Drop. Based in Denver and almost entirely breweries from that area but, you know, there are an awful lot of them there. It works pretty much like a beer-o'-the-month club, but you can sub beers out if you'd rather get something else. A bit pricey for what you get, like all such services, but for a while I'll pay extra for the chance to try things outside my geography (no travel, got to cast a wider net) and the old-fashioned, no-it-doesn't-get-old fun of getting a box of beer in the mail.

Rockwell Static
Draft beer, but at home: We installed four taps, including a Czech-style side-pull that was basically the best Christmas present a boy could ask for (thanks, honey). Lately we've designated two taps for commercial beers: 2nd Shift Art of Neurosis (brilliant, undersung, old-school citrus-pine-bitter mid-coast IPA) and Rockwell Static (rich dark lager, landing between schwarz and tmavy, managing plenty of malt richness at 4.7% strength). The latter is on the side-pull. The Art of Neurosis didn't last long and has since been replaced by the helles from Deep Sleep, our local-est small brewery (he's a full-time anesthetist, hence the name, who runs a part-time-pro brewery on the side, and the beers are solid). Moral of the story: Public draft beer is in hibernation, but your local breweries are sitting on lots of kegs they'll probably sell you. If you don't currently have a kegerator, you might currently have time to build one. Haven't you baked enough sourdough?

Homebrew: It's mostly drinkable. Rotating flavors on the other two taps. Playing with Belgian yeast blends, local malt, and plenty of hops. Enjoying the application of judgy critical perspective, followed by figuring out how to do it a bit better next time. Using this ancient ('90s-era) SABCO BrewMagic that still runs pretty well. Maybe the fave so far is an all-Willamette-hopped rye saison-ish thing that's around 4.5% abv and came out nicely lemony somehow. Trying more of that early dry-hopping to get that biotransformation thang going, but doing it with Belgian-type yeasts and non-IPAs. It's fun.

So was this. Hey: I'll try to blog more. But, you know.

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