The Brooklyn Growler

"Life is all skittles and beer." — Tom Lehrer

Annals of Homebrewing: Birch Oatmeal Stout Update

Oh, man, it’s good. This birch oatmeal stout is what Xmas tastes like. It’s one of those beers that doesn’t seem like much when it’s cold but as it warms up, it becomes fantastic – just what we wanted for the season.

It’s on tap at my friend Dave’s apartment. Stop by sometime, whydontcha?

Apologies for the brevity of this post. I’ve been hit with a lot of freelance work lately, and I’m a little fried. There will most likely be one more post to hit before I completely shut down for the holidays. I wish you and yours a very wonderful non-secular winter wonderland of joyous celebration.

Have a beer.

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Ohio Beers for the Ohio Holidays

Been a little while. I had some computer issues before Thanksgiving. Let’s just say there was wine involved. Well, all right, so the whole story is that I had a pizza in the oven and was trying out a new pizza stone that smoked up the apartment. A window was opened. A fully full glass of red wine sat on the computer desk a foot away from the machine, which sits on a little lift thingie. The wind kicked up the curtains. Obliteration. Wine all over.

Not a half hour earlier, the cat – wearing his ungainly holiday sweater – had spilled a glass of water over my wife Audrey’s laptop. We dried that one out all right. Mine had to go to TekServe to have red wine cleaned out of its innards.

In the meanwhile, a freelance job was offering more work at a better rate. I closed out the days before Thanksgiving first on an ancient iBook, then on a friend’s computer, and then on a dried-out laptop doing my best not to lose my mind. My laptop is now back at home playing the one track with all of the frog noises from that one Neko Case album.

There’s some Xmas-light action on the lower-side of the screen that I have decided I have no choice but to find visually exciting for now. So, otherwise, my laptop is A-OK. Well, it also smells like David Bowie’s breath during the late-seventies.

That’s what I get for drinking wine, I guess.

Anyway, here are some beers that I’ve had since I last posted.

Oatmeal Stout; Samuel Smith; Tadcaster, Yorkshire, U.K. (I was inspired by the Birch Oatmeal Stout Dave made.)

Woody Creek White Belgian Wit; Flying Dog Brewery; Frederick, Md.

Premium Czech Lager; Czechvar; České Budějovice, Czech Republic

Over the Rhine Ale; Christian Moerlein Brewing Co.; Cincinnati, Ohio

Edmund Fitzgerald Porter; Great Lakes Brewing Co.; Cleveland, Ohio

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Annals of Homebrewing: Birch Oatmeal Stout for the Holidays

Originally the idea was to make up an Xmas homebrew for all of our friends and family. As far as the ol’ pocketbook goes, it’s not a bad idea. Logistically, though, packaging up a few bottles of homebrew and mailing them off to faraway places is just asking for your Xmas gifts to explode in the back of a USPS truck.

(Ask anyone who has knocked over a sixer of homebrew in the closet and see what they’ll say about mailing the stuff. Volatile. Yeast can be volatile.)

But so it’s still getting to be the time of year when a stout really hits the spot. My friend Dave and I got together at his place this past Friday to get a beer going. Pictured above was the main impetus for a new brew – home-grown cascade hops from our friend Steve’s garden in Ohio. Dave received them a few months ago and had kept them in the freezer.

We decided to do an oatmeal stout with some birch shavings to add some extra flavor. A little bit of birch wrapped up in a packet with some hops smells amazing, by the way. The birch, as well as the ingredients, were all purchased from the excellent Brooklyn Homebrew in Gowanus.

We once watched a video of a mustachioed dude demonstrating some homebrewing techniques. Before he got started, the guy cracked open a beer and said something to the effect of, “If you want to brew a beer, you need to drink a beer.” Brewing is only part of it. Sitting around Dave’s kitchen, drinking too many beers and talking shit is the experience.

It’s what made me re-think my approach to this site. I started this thing because, first of all, I like beer. But it’s also a workshop experiment. I have acquired many bad habits in the last few years from my professional writing and editing. I lost my voice trying to emulate someone else in order to survive. Like a beer, this blog will take some time to get right. But that’s what I’m after. I want to be right.

Anyway, we’re going to move the brew over to some of Dave’s soda kegs before both of us depart for our Thanksgiving holidays. By Xmas we should be well and drunk on this stuff. I promise to keep you updated.

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