A stout, a triple and an IPA

This post is going to be a bit all over the place but please bear with me.

In the late 80’s my parents bought a summer place, and beneath the cottage my dad found a iron ball, roughly 8 kg in weight. We had no idea what it was for, but since it was more or less the size and weight of a shot put “shot”, we used that for shot put training when I was a kid. I haven’t done any track & field in years, but I did compete for many years back in the day.

In recent years I’ve been mostly concentrating on running, but I came up with the idea of challenging some friends to a shot put half marathon. How it would work is that first you compete in shot put, and whatever distance you throw/shoot the shot, you get to take that distance away from you half marathon distance, with the ratio of 1 to 500. Meaning that for every meter you do in shot put, you get to take half a kilometer away from your half marathon distance.

If you challenge friends to anything, you start training, because bragging rights are what friendships are all about. I then remembered the iron ball at the cottage and decided to take it home for some training. Of course I forgot about it and ended up having it in the trunk of my car for the better part of a summer before actually starting to train, but it’s the thought that counts.

Anyway, at some point I started wondering what that iron ball had actually been used for. I did some googling and sure enough, I found a picture of an iron ball looking exactly like ours, same size with an exactly similar looking round cavity. The picture was from a newspaper article about someone finding a actual cannonball for sale at a flea market. The Finnish army had then been called in to take away the cannonball from the now evacuated flea market.

So that’s what we had been throwing around for several summers with dad. A cannonball! That’s what I was driving around with in my trunk for a summer. That’s what was in my trunk when taking my car over to Estonia with a ferry. I wonder what would have happened if we were stopped at customs control. I wonder what kind of time you do in Estonia for smuggling explosives with ferries. How would I fit into the Estonian prison system? Would I need to join a gang? Some many questions.

How that cannonball ended up beneath our cottage I have no idea. A previous owner found it in the woods? Is it from the 1st or 2nd world war? Is it live or not? I don’t know. What I do know is that I still have it. I’m just not storing it underneath the house anymore. Nor am I training shot put with it anytime soon.

I would love to laugh about this story one more time with dad, but unfortunately I can’t. He was hospitalized in September of last year and passed away four weeks later. The last few months have been tough. This is also why it’s been so quiet on this blog. I haven’t had much energy to brew or write. I miss my dad. I’m sure I’ll get back to brewing in full speed again eventually though.

Stout, tripel, and IPA.

I did brew three batches since last summer; a stout, a tripel and an IPA. Of the three, the tripel is the one that came out the best.

The stout is just as bad as all my previous stouts. I gave cold steeping the dark grains another try, but instead of adding the cold steeped wort at the end of the boil I added it at sparge. This did remove all the vegetal notes I got the last time I cold speeded the dark grains, but I just cannot seem to get any of the pleasant chocolate and coffee characters you expect from a stout. Only different levels of harshness. Still completely lost when it comes to stouts.

The IPA I just made to get rid of the last 2019 harvest hops I had left. My first impression of he IPA was that it was ok, but nothing special, kind of as I expected. I entered this beer, along with the triple, into this year’s Himabisse competition, and it was the first time a beer of mine was clearly technically flawed according to the judges. I haven’t tasted it since, so it will be interesting to see if I can pick it out. The judges suspected it might have been a fermentation temperature issue, or perhaps chlorinated water, which was causing the off flavor.

My guess is that it might be due to under-pitching yeast. I filter my water which doesn’t have much chlorine to begin with, so that shouldn’t be an issue, and the fermentation was controlled at 16C. It was fermented with a kölsh yeast. I do remember though, that when adding the yeast from a starter, I decanted the beer on top, but somehow managed to stir up the yeast cake and ended up pouring away a lot of yeast. Still, it fermented out further than expected, which is strange.

The tripel made it to the finals at the competition, but it did not place in the top three of it’s category. I’m happy with how it came out. Quite hoppy, but still more yeast driven, as a tripel should be. According to the judges it was a little unbalanced, with fruity esters dominating, which I agree on, but that is also how I wanted it, so nothing to worry about unless I want to enter it into competition again.

Entering beers into competition is a hassle though, especially if you don’t bottle otherwise, so I might take some break from it. I wasn’t planning on entering anything this year either, but I felt I needed some excitement in my life, something to look forward to, so I entered anyway. They had a live stream from the award ceremony, which was cool.

I really hope we all get vaccines soon and Tallinn Craft Beer Weekend happens this year. That’s all I can say.

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