Here are Maris Otter barley, some crystal malts of varying degrees of darkness, and water. We placed these ingredients in a large, insulated mash tun, and kept them at an even temperature around 60 degrees Celcius, so that the enzymes/heat/water could do their magic, and make our sweet and malty wort. In this photo, we have drained most of this wort off into our boiler, ready to bitter the wort, with hops.
Here is the wort, boiling nicely, with a small sack containing Pilgrim hops suspended within, hopping the wort and spreading all around us the fragrant, slightly illegal-smelling fragrance of the beer.
Here is the spent barley, first in its bucket, and then nestled around my Fuller’s Teasel and Artichoke plants, as a mulch.
Here is the handsome co-brewer in this beermaking enterprise. He is tasting the wort.
Now that the wort has been bittered with our little sack o’ Pilgrim hops, we extract the bag and swap its contents for a small quantity of East Kent Goldings. This is the finishing hops.
Now that the wort has been bittered, with some finishing hops for flavour, it must quickly be cooled before the yeast is added and fermentation begins. Everything in the next few photos has been bleached, sterilised and rinsed to within inches of its life.
This is the copper coil through which we shall feed cold water, to rapidly decrease the temperature of our concoction.
Here is the wort going into the vessel containing the copper coil, and then cold water flowing through the copper coil, immersed in our bittered wort.
As the cold water passes through the coil, it soaks up the heat of the boiling wort, and exits as hot water. This is useful for cleaning everything that has become sticky through the process of beer-making. This is good news, for beer-making is sticky.
After this point, the beer enjoyed its primary fermentation for one week, on a warm shelf in our house. Since then, it has had a further 9 days in a pressure barrel, with a bag of Challenger hops and a priming of Maltose.
In honour of recent events, we have decided to name this first brew “Kickstarter”.
Today we enjoyed our first pint of this brew. It is darker and maltier than we had initially aimed for, and the delicate perfume of the hops is a little lost in the denser textures of the malty, nut-brown tones. But this beer tastes delicious to me, because it was made by us, and because it was brewing at a special time in my life. This beer was happening at the same time as the Kickstarter campaign that is enabling the next phase of the KNITSONIK mission to unfold.
How could this not be the tastiest beer on Earth to me, right now?
In our local pub last Sunday we drank a toast to everyone who backed my Kickstarter as the campaign drew to its close. But I’m so happy today, and so enjoying working on the book so far, that I don’t think it can hurt to make another toast. But why not go all the way and make it a barrel full.
So here is 23 litres of “Thank You” for you, and beer, for us.
I have the feeling it’s going to be a wonderful summer.
Yours in wool + knitting + sounds + beer,