It's yule, and we have to celebrate it with some food and drink! Here's a short ale brewing lecture I held at the Green Dragon Foreyule Party on 18th December 2020.
Ale Brewing and Ale Tasting
A short lecture by Pycella
As yer know, I am a pie seller by profession, but lately, I have also tried my luck in brewing ales!
And I have been lucky too. Not sure if luck has somet to do with it though... but aye. I’ll quickly introduce yer to the brewing itself.
To brew ale, yer need water, malted grains, hops, yeast and patience. Lots of patience. And maybe some nice, additional things to spice things up. Brewing consists of several steps: In my small-scale burrow brewing, the main phases are mashing, boiling, and conditioning. And lots of washing… You see, keeping things clean is very important in ale brewing. Yer might need to hire a professional dishwasher, or just anyone who turns up last at yer ale tasting… If yer don't keep things clean, yer ale might not taste good at all.
So here’s what I do when I brew ale: I warm up the water to a certain temperature, and then add the malted grains. During the mashing, the starches of the grains will turn into sugars that the yeast can “eat” during the fermentation. The more sugars, the more alcohol there will be. The mashing will greatly influence the body of the ale, its richness. Then the grains are filtered and we will have this sweet liquid called “wort”. Next comes the boiling phase when hops are added to the wort. The hops balance the sweetness of the wort with their bitterness. Depending on their variety, they can add an earthy, spicy or fruity flavour to the ale. Yer can also add other spices during the boiling phase, like yule spices… or even biscuits! If you ever need to keep yer biscuits safe from others, yer can hide them in yer ale! After boiling comes the cooldown phase. When the ale is at room temperature, it’s safe to add the yeast.
Then the ale will be fermented for a few weeks. This is when the sugars are turned into alcohol. After fermentation, we still need to condition the ale. For that, we will add some more sugar to the ale and let it condition in a keg or bottles. During conditioning, air bubbles will form. This usually takes another few weeks. So the largest part of ale brewing is actually waiting…
By now, I am sure yer all ready to wet yer whistles, so I have brought some ales for tasting. I am myself, after all this lecturing… I'll taste them now and analyse them fer yer!
I have poured my ale samples in small glasses. Now, ale tasting is an art, so let me tell yer how it's done properly. Before tasting, we inspect the ale visually, that means with yer eyes only! Then, yer can take a good sip and keep the ale in yer mouth for a moment. And after that, yer can swallow it. This way, yer should be able to catch all the characteristics of the ale. After tasting one ale, eat a slice of bread or drink water to cleanse yer palate.
And NOW let’s start with the fun part: the tasting itself! I'll start with the Yule Biscuit Brew. It's a dark ale, a thick creamy foam and a yule biscuit on top. It’s a stout spiced with gingerbread! A tempting yule scent is rising from the glass… Some sweet secrets are hidden beneath that creamy foam on top!
Let’s have a taste... So sweet and rich! This tastes like liquid gingerbread.
Let’s cleanse our palates before our next ale. For our next ale, we have The Garden Dwarves’ Yule Surprise. Here it is: dark brown ale and light foam on top. It’s a brown ale spiced with cinnamon, cloves, star anise and other yule seasonings. It’s not as dark as the previous ale. There's a lovely yule scent too! I'll take a sip... Oh, a perfect combination of yule flavours! That foam gives yer a small beard too… a garden dwarves’ surprise, indeed!
Now, last but not the least, we have the Bounders’ Porter, a very dark ale with thick foam. Porters are actually very similar to stouts, as yer can assume from the dark colour. Porters are basically dark ales that are popular among porters, hence the name too. And they have a high alcohol content, hence they are popular among bounders too. I'll inspect this Bounders’ porter by taking a sip... Dear me! This is certainly as strong as any bounder… Oh, and there's a hint of coffee. I added a small amount of fresh coffee during the fermentation. Just to help them bounders stay awake a bit longer…
That’s about it! Thanks for attending this short ale lecture and ale tasting.