Art Vandelay and a butter spreader

The night before going back to work after my summer holiday, I dreamt that I was running down streets hitting random people in the head with an axe. Back then, I thought it was just normal anxiety of going back to work. Now I know better. It was a premonition of how I would feel for the rest of the year. I’ve done nothing but work or laid on the couch feeling sorry for myself the last few months. Who’s to say next year will be any better?

Most of the time I couldn’t tell you what day of the week it was. If I’m drunk, it’s most likely weekend. Otherwise, who gives a shit. Even though I’m angry and irritated most of he time, I probably won’t make my premonition literally come true. Although I’ve come close once or twice. Here’s one time:

Not too long ago, I was standing in line to get some bread at a breakfast buffet, minding my own business. Suddenly it hit me that the line had not moved in quite some time. Why is that? I wondered. I then noticed that not only had the guy in front of me decided to spread out the butter on his toast while everybody else were waiting in line, instead of doing it afterwards like normal people, but he was also the slowest butter spreader the world has ever seen. When what felt like hours later he had finally finished his spread, the heat from the first toast had already melted its butter, making him think the butter had somehow magically disappeared. After evaluating the situation for some time, he decided to start all over from the beginning.

What kind of person does this to his fellow human beings? Was he not aware that other people were waiting for him to finish doing something he could just as easily have done later at his table? Or was he aware, but just didn’t care? If you run around hitting people in their heads with axes, at least you recognize that they exist. Or existed, you know what I mean.

Even though this was the perfect opportunity for my premonition to become reality, I decided not to go through with it. I’m quite sure that even though he started it, I would have been the one going to prison. And I can’t risk to go to prison, because I have tickets to Tallinn Craft Beer Weekend. Beer still makes me happy.

Art Vandelay, an Imperial ImPorter/ExPorter

Beer would make me even happier if I knew how to brew stouts. They are getting better though. I’m having better results when scaling down the roasted malts. I’m not going to bother you with the recipe of my most recent stout, but 10% of the malt bill were roasted malts of some sort, meaning chocolate malt and darker. At two months old, It’s already the best stout I’ve made, and there’s still plenty of time for it to improve.

The one I brewed before that had a bit more roasted malts, but more importantly, it was a water adjustment experiment. Instead of only adding some chalk, I added different salts to get the following water profile:

  • Calcium 139 ppm
  • Magnesium 4 ppm
  • Sodium 109 ppm
  • Chloride 121 ppm
  • Sulfate 62 ppm
  • Alkalinity 377 ppm
  • Residual alkalinity 275 ppm

I did hit a mash PH of 5.4, as hoped for, but still it did nothing to improve the beer. On the contrary, it made the beer taste a bit too mineral. I don’t regret giving this a try though; at least I now know that water adjustment won’t solve all my problems. Thinking back now, it was kind of selfish of me to put that kind of burden on water adjustment alone.

This leaves me with only a couple of options; to use less roasted malts, and/or give top mashing another try. Actually, I already gave this a try, and in true Wooden Pickle fashion, I went overboard again. I brewed a porter instead of a stout with only 6% of the malts being roasted. I also top mashed the roasted grains, meaning that I did not add them until the vorlauf.

First impression of the porter is that it might be more of an imperial brown ale than an actual porter. Color is dark brown, instead of black, and there are some barleywine-ish notes coming through. The next porter or stout I brew will for sure have more roasted malts to balance some of the sweetness. Perhaps 10% of the malt bill if I top mash, 8% if I don’t. I might at some point also go the other route and brew another imperial brown ale. In that case I will remove some of the Munich and crystal malts to get it to finish a bit drier. Aside from it being a bit sweet, I kind of enjoy the flavor profile.

The recipe:

  • 6.55 kg of pale ale malt
  • 0.7 kg of oats
  • 1 kg of wheat malt (I ran out of pale ale malt)
  • 2 kg Munich malt
  • 0.25 kg of red ale malt
  • 0.25 kg of crystal 150
  • 0.25 kg of crystal 300
  • 0.25 kg of special B
  • 0.25 kg of light chocolate
  • 0.25 kg of chocolate rye
  • 0.25 kg of carafa II
  • 0.4 kg of demerara sugar
  • 34 g of Northers Brewer at 60 minutes
  • 60 grams of Perle at 60 minutes
  • 40 grams of Perle in the whirlpool
  • WLP007 Dry English yeast
  • OG 1.116
  • FG 1.034
  • ABV 10.8%
  • IBU 59

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