Beer Break Vol. 3, No. 20
What's a small beer?
Feb. 27, 2003
We hear a lot about "big" beers this time of year, most particularly barley
wines. Does that mean there is such a thing as a "small" beer. In fact, it
even merits a dictionary entry (there is none for big beer). From the
Merriam-Webster Online dictionary:
Main Entry: small beer
1 : weak or inferior beer
2 : something of small importance : Trivia
- small-beer adjective
The history of small beer dates back for centuries. In the days when
sanitation was bad and water dangerous to drink, small beer was served to
servants, field workers, the poor, even the young. The first runnings from a
brewer's mash would go to a stronger beer, the second for ordinary beer. A
small beer, taken from a third running, was probably about 2.5% alcohol by
volume. Belgian monasteries, in particular, produced large quantities of
small beer in the Middle Ages.
In 1997, Anchor Brewing in San Francisco began brewing its Small Beer from
second runnings of its Old Foghorn (barley wine) mash. Anchor first bottled
the beer in 1998, in 22-ounce bombers (small beer/big bottle). It is 3.3%
If you want to make your own, you could try this 1757 recipe from George
"Take a large Sifter full of Bran Hops to your Taste -- Boil these 3 hours.
Then strain out 30 Gall. into a Cooler put in 3 Gallons Molasses while the
Beer is scalding hot or rather drain the molasses into the Cooler. Strain the
Beer on it while boiling hot let this stand til it is little more than Blood
warm. Then put in a quart of Yeast if the weather is very cold cover it over
with a Blanket. Let it work in the Cooler 24 hours then put it into the Cask.
Leave the Bung open til it is almost done working -- Bottle it that day Week
it was Brewed."
We're not sure how well this would turn out, but if you try it be sure to let
us know how it tastes.
News of beers
- Stone Brewing Co. releases the second of eleven Stone Vertical Epic Ales on
Monday (03/03/03). Each of the eleven Vertical Epic ales is to be released
one year, one month and one day apart. In other words, next year's edition
will be released April 4th, 2004, followed by May 5th, 2005, all the way to
December 12th, 2012. The premise is that each edition is to be brewed in a
different style from the previous year, and since the beers will be bottle
conditioned they should mature when cellared.
Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale was fermented with both a Belgian yeast
strain and Stone Brewing's own signature ale yeast. The resultant style is
roughly "a Belgian-ish strong dubble-ish (with an emphasis on the 'ish') dark
ale, with a healthy dose of alligator pepper, a dash of coriander and a nice
addition of Stone-style hops."
Stone promises to release detailed tasting notes for the beer and a
homebrewing recipe, just as was done for the Stone 02.02.02 Vertical Epic
- Specialty Beer Services of Seattle will be importing Bombardier Premium Ale
from the Charles Wells Brewery in Bedford, England. Bombardier Ale was
created in 1997 to celebrate the company receiving the Queen's Award for
Export Achievement. It has been described by British beer writer Roger Protz
as "a distinctively copper colored beer with a rich, spicy aroma, beautifully
balanced malt flavors, and a lingering soft, spicy finish of fruit character
and gentle hop bitterness."
- Laurelwood Public House & Brewery has earned the distinction of becoming
Oregon's first Certified Organic Brewery. Laurelwood makes both Organic Free
Range Red and Organic Tree Hugger Porter, and brewer Christian Ettinger will
feature additional seasonal organic beer styles throughout the year.
CISCO BAGGYWINKLE BARLEYWINE
BOWER CITY PALE ALE
Brewed by Cisco Brewers in Massachusetts
Michael Jackson writes:
Tall, cramy, meringue-like head. Garnet color. Perfumy, fruity (dark
raspberries, blackberries?), creamy aroma. Against, creamy in flavor, but
lighter in body than its performance so far had led me to expect. It is a big
beer, but liquer-ish rather than rich and toffeeish. The fruity flavors
linger, with an almondy, sappy dryness. Enormous surge of warming alcohol in
Brewed by Gray's Brewing in Wisconsin
Roger Protz writes:
A truly pale ale, just a tad darker than a pilsner, as it should be. A
gorgeous aroma of sweet biscuity malt and gentle hops, with the hops coming
through powerfully in the mouth but balanced by citrus fruit and creamy malt.
The finish is comparatively gentle, a long and linger balance of malt and
resiny hops. A superb refresher.