The Fine Art of Trauma Brewing

BYOB by | May 2009 | Issue #28

Illustration by Scott Murry

Previously, in August, I wrote about the momentous occasion of moving into a house with my fiancée. In addition to growing my brewery, I gained my first critical mail, accusing me of trafficking in terrible sexist stereotypes. To the letter writer, I say, “Thanks”—as I’m surrounded by three ardent feminists, everyone got a great chuckle at the accusation.

However, this is no time for jocularity. The economy sucks. An overly caloric diet of easy credit, overconsumption and downright fraud has led to many people losing jobs and, worse, their homes, including me. I cannot describe the feeling of one morning, waking up, an honest, debt-paying citizen, and finding the sheriffs knocking on your door informing you that, sorry, the bank now owns the house you’re renting and you have five days to move out!

Lucky for me, my beleaguered fiancée, Amy, stepped up and negotiated our way into a new joint. Within five days, we pulled a Star Trek-level teleportation trick and were ensconced in a new homestead. I cannot stop thinking about how fortunate we’ve been and how supportive the local brewing community has been.

Proving the real pisser of this whole move has been the loss of the comfortable brewing rhythm that I developed again after six months of moving hassle and book writing. Laugh if you must, but even the patient redhead remarked on my first brew day at the new (old) house that brewing brought me a smile and relaxed calm.

So, this time out the gate, there will be no months of hiatus! While the books find places in the library, the garage is being cleared for space devoted to the brewing sciences. For me, the goal is clear: Set a date and, come hell or high water, it’s time to bust out the kettles and brew up something to match the bitterness and ease the pain.

Usually, our brewing careers are pretty steady. Set up the brewery, tweak the gear and then crank out the brews. Periodically, you add little widgets, but nothing changes. What if you or I couldn’t break out the full system because we’re stuck back in an apartment with a limited amount of space and money?

Certainly, when you’ve already made the jump to all-grain, it’s hard to imagine ever going back to extract. All-grain, once you’ve got the equipment, is certainly cheaper. However, it takes more space and it requires more heat than most small kitchen stoves can provide. If you can’t carve enough room or time, and stove augmenting “heat sticks” are out, then there’s no reason not to return to the beginning. The speed a full-extract batch can be churned out in, especially with a chiller, is why it’s tempting to do it even when you’re not under duress.

Remember—keeping the beer flowing is the goal. Do whatever it takes. Cut all the corners you need. Short boil or mash? Sure! Extract? Sure! Yeast with no starter? Go fer it. If it gets the beer made, do it. So this month, we’re going with something quick that’s equally good either as extract or all-grain. Eviction Ale is a dark XPA—just the thing to quench your thirst and keep you bitterly thinking of the landlord/boss.

Sure, these times are trying for all of us. Even if you’re not being kicked out of your home, reach for the brew kettles to steady the way. Now’s the time that your hobby investment can pay off. After all, right about now, couldn’t you use a tall, frothy glass of beer? At least we’re not facing a zombie invasion.

For 5.5 gallons at 1.053, 21 SRM, 51 IBU, 60-minute boil, 5.4% ABV

Malt / Grain
6.0 lb. light dry malt extract (or 10 lb. domestic two-row malt)
0.50 lb. Weyermann Carafa malt
0.25 lb. Caramunich malt

Saccharification rest at 152°F for 60 minutes

0.50 oz Magnum (pellets) | 14.0% AA | 60 minutes
0.50 oz Columbus (pellets) | 15.0% AA | 30 minutes
1.00 oz Amarillo (pellets) | 8.5% AA | 0 minutes

Wyeast 1056 Chico Ale / WLP001 California Ale / US-05 American Ale

This beer should be good to go out of primary in less than a week. Its dark color means you don’t have to worry about settling for clarity, and the extra boost of Amarillo in the finish gives a ton of aroma. Now go brew it!