Back in June of last year,  I posted about my experience with making homemade soda from Emma Christensen's book True Brews: How to Craft Fermented Cider, Beer, Wine, Sake, Soda, Mead, Kefir, and Kombucha at Home. At the time I was like "I'm only gonna make soda because I already make milk kefir and kombucha just looks weird and I don't drink beer." Since then, well, I fell in love with kombucha and starting enjoying beer again. See, me and alcohol? We've been on a break. There are a few a lot of alcoholics in my family and I know there is more to it than genetics, but lets just say that there was a stretch there where it was a pot of coffee in the morning, a pack of smokes during the day and three martinis before bed. Every day. If I didn't have gin in the house (yes, gin martinis... the REAL ones) I would stress out... a lot. That was bad. Clearly, I could not be trusted with booze. That was almost 20 years ago and since then I've been limiting myself to ONE drink a year. ONE. Every time I say this, all I can think of is Elaine Stritch:
Two drinks a day, *on* *or* *off* stage. Two drinks a day. *Two* drinks a day. TWO drinks a day. It *doesn't* *work*! Not when you want eleven. And not when you start shopping for wineglasses in the vase department at Bloomingdale's.
LB doesn't drink at all (something about post-doctorate research in the effects of alcohol on rats... whatevs) so that made it easy. It just wasn't in the house. I don't remember what made me decide to try beer again. I think I wanted to see if I could control myself. So I had a craft beer out at dinner one night. It was DELICIOUS. Delicious in that "wow, I'm going to sit here and enjoy this beer and not even really care if I have another because it's so good". So, that's where we are. Once in a while, I have a nice craft beer and I'm happy. I don't care if I have another or not. And when ever the words "I need a beer" fly through my brain matter, we take another break because I never ever ever want to NEED alcohol again. For the record, Elaine is now 89 and has decided to go back to her "two drinks a day" thing after 20 years of sobriety. I wonder how that's going to work out for her. Back to the topic at hand... If you read this blog on a regular basis, you know that I like to make my own stuff and Emma's book has one gallon batches of beer which is JUST PERFECT for when I want to fool around in the kitchen and make something of my own. I cannot drink 5 gallons of beer.. I just can't and I don't have any place to put all of that equipment. Here is the best part you guys.. the BEST part. Emma is writing a new book.. I KNOW.. Know what else? ZOMG I'M TEST BREWING FOR HER I KNOW IT'S AWESOME AND I CAN'T SEEM TO STOP BEING ALL CAPS CRAZY EXCITED ABOUT IT. I totally screwed up the first batch because I didn't measure the yeast correctly and I lost a LOT of the wort down the drain. My strainer was too small and there was some serious overflow. I've upgraded since then.   I also didn't manage to hit the original gravity on the first batch so it's a little light on the alcohol level, but it's sure tasty!
It's all alone in the dark in there.. hiding with my shoes.
It's all alone in the dark in there.. hiding with my shoes.
I like the process so much, I decided to delve back into True Brews and I've got a Spiced Apple Mead hanging out in the closet. It's clarifying and doing it's thing.. This one won't be ready for months. I'm hoping it will be good for October because I'd like to bring some to my friends at Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool. As I'm typing this, I'm mashing out the next recipe that Emma sent me to try. Mashing out is when you soak the malts which are really grains in hot water to get the sugar out of them. Don't I sound like a real brewer type person? heh.  (**Edit: I started this like.. a month ago..this next brew is already made and tasted!  I'm a little behind in my blogging) I've also already decided that anything that comes out of my tiny kitchen will be under the "Black Freighter Brewery". Because why not. It's a nod to my online alias. (If you haven't figured out why I call myself "Pirate Jeni" yet, just Google "Black Freighter".  That should help.) I even put it on the bottles of Kombucha I brought to the From Scratch Club Swap in February.
So, what's next? I'm not really sure. I'm thinking a stout because one of my coworkers gave me an adorable little oak barrel that he aged some whiskey in. I don't know.. what do you guys think would age well in oak?

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