Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Unseasonable warmth has me thinking... Barley wine?


It has been a rather warm February so far this year. Temperatures have me thinking of the next season usually not due til mid march or so. Yup, you got it. Mud season. Also known as sugaring time up in these parts. So why am I thinking barley wine? Glad you asked, 'cause if you didn't I would tell you anyway.

First I will say that my fondness for barley wine transcends season. Most folks including breweries seem to think it a winter time indulgence only. They seem to think it is only appropriate in cold weather. Not me. I can and do enjoy it all times a year. 'Course, Vermont isn't exactly known for unbearable hot weather, so maybe that is why I like it here so much. So I can always enjoy my barley wine!

It being late winter it is still appropriate to be brewing up some barley wine. It won't really be truly ready until this time next year. But I am not ready to brew it yet. Nope. However this second batch will require some planning and some advice. So I need to start now before the mud and the sap start flowing. The reason is the sap. This second barley wine concoction will utilize, yup, that's right maple sap as the brewing liquor. I have no experience sugaring so I will enlist the advice of a friend in this regard. The plan is to tap the two maples in my yard and collect as much sap as I can. Hopefully at least 20 gallons. The trees I have are either sugar (rock) maple or red maple. Hopefully the former but the latter will suffice for my purposes. I also have a couple silver maples which I may consider in the future. They won't yield nearly as high a sugar content but that is not as important for my purposes.

I plan to collect as much as I can as stated, and then boil it down to the amount required for my liquor for 5 gallons. So about 8-10 gallons or so. I will then take a gravity reading and determine a weight so I can plug it in as an ingredient in Beer Alchemy. Then I will use it for my strike and sparge liquor. Should be an interesting event. I realize it may merely be a novel way of doing things and may not provide any special flavors but I am willing to give it a go for novelty sake if nothing else. I am not the first to do so and I surely won't be the last.

More to come as this plan develops.

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