Beer Experiments

When my arms decided that I was going to enjoy an extended and involuntary break from my usual string, I took up brewing. (The joke being that I had to drown my sorrows.. perhaps not wholly wrong.) The fact that brewer’s guilds (formal and informal guilds) from three kingdoms are terrible influences is a minor technical detail, and apparently I only have so much willpower. I dutifully followed the brew store’s beginner (ish) recipe for the first batch, had it turn out rather nice really. (Coffee stout, partial mash)

Then I went out on my own, because why on earth would I follow directions for brewing when I’m incapable of following recipes or patterns to the letter /either/. I moved to 1 gallon batches, because if its going to go all horribly wrong, it’s less whimper inducing to dump a single gallon down the sink than a giant 5 gallon batch, and well.. I might enjoy brewing beer, but I don’t actually drink very much beer (or any alcohol really). (Yes this means that you can get free beer from me at camping events. Newbie who doesnt’ follow directions brewer, you’ve been warned. Drink at your own risk, it’ll be worth the price you paid for it.) (PS. I want the bottles back.)

In any case. I spent the winter of no-knitting or sewing playing with yeastie beasties. A couple more quite successful brews (mostly following the instructions!).. and then I went out on limbs. The first experiment was a wort split 3 ways, with three different yeasts. I entered it in A&S, and you can go read my¬†Beer and Bread documentation if you’d like. The TL;DR of it is that a bitterly cold winter, a damn cold back room made for pretty sad (aka low %) beer, although the sourdough starter works just fine to brew with. (My doctors appreciate me drinking a 2% beer though!) It’s tasty though (IMO), if overcarbonated (open over the sink or in a field, pour into a glass quick!) I do want to run that experiment again when my back room isn’t sitting at about 15C. Poor shivering yeasties.

This past weekend, I decided to go play in what the homebrew community calls SMaSH beers. Single Malt and Single Hops. I also decided to poke at small beer, which is the second run through of the grain. Forget sparging (washing the sugars out into the first batch), just make a whole other batch!

The technical details are 2 lb of Marris Otter, 12 g of East Kent Goldings and 50 g of Wilma the sourdough starter. I brew in a bag, cause convenience wins around here. Each was about a gallon batch, the small beer is a bit less, and I decided not to dilute it further by topping up with water. First run OG is 1.058 and the second run through the grain has an OG of 1.020. I was going to do a third run, but honestly if the second one is already down to 1.020, the third really is going to just be water at that point. It seemed overkill.

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I can’t imagine that even in my cool kitchen that the small beer is going to take that long to ferment, there’s just not enough sugar in there for the yeasties to need to work at it all that long!

I’ll let you know how it goes!

The Big Silly Project

This project is a study in scope creep.

It started with ‘hey, I can’t knit atm, and I picked up some fleece a couple years ago that is early period pretty close.. I should spin it up’. Dig out spindle (A modern one that I’m fond of, nice mid weight, conveniently empty), dig up the bag of lincoln longwool, start spinning. I spin thin naturally, and this was all about just ‘hey, let’s do some spinning’.

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As I’m spinning, I start thinking of what I might do with my freshly spun yarn. It’s not the softest in the world, which is fine, I don’t begrudge it that. So not really next to skin sort of projects. I only have about 120g, so there’s not a whole lot of it either, so this is not about to become outer garments either. I’ve always wanted to make myself one of those Hedeby bags with the wooden handles, that seems reasonable for this yarn. Alright, project decided. Spin, spin, spin.

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Brain then starts chewing on the weaving part as I’m spinning, and that internal conversation sounds something like ‘well if I’m weaving an early period bag.. then I really should weave it on a warp weighted loom.’ Because the 4 looms that live in this house aren’t sufficient, I clearly need to acquire another and learn a whole new technique of weaving. Clearly. Start reading up on the making of warp weighted looms, and how to weave on them. Arrange to borrow one, acquire books (and articles and conversation with other artisans) to help the process. Spin, spin, spin.

More thoughts as I continue to spin.. the mottled grey of this fleece is just gorgeous, it’d be a crime to dye it and not just embrace the sheepy colours going on here. Thank you brain, for saving me one step worth of scope creep. Spin, spin, spin.

Brain continues to chew on the project, and there’s a thought that the strap for this bag really shouldn’t be wool, it should be linen. Wool stretches far too much, it’ll start at my hip and end at my ankles by the end of the day. Alright. Tablet weave up some linen for the strap. That’s easy enough. Spin, spin, spin.

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But wait! Says my traitorous brain.. you’ve long wanted to give flax spinning another try. It’s been a good 15 or more years, and there’s flax just hanging out in the stash. Remember this was going to be a stash busting exercise? You should spin the linen for the strap. You’re spinning everything else, after all. Gee brain, that sounds like a fine idea. Look up some suggestions for flax spinning, chat with experts in flax spinning, find the flax in the stash and another free spindle. Spin, spin, spin.

And so, that’s the state of the Big Silly Project (BSP). The dye thoughts for the linen strap are just starting to creep in, and the documentation for this is going to be a novel. I’ll keep you informed. For now? Spin, spin, spin.