Saturday, September 5, 2009

Mad Scientist India Pale Ale

Sam and Marissa are here tonight brewing. The beer is his Mad Scientist India Pale Ale. Sam says it’s entirely experimental and he doesn’t plan to make it again. He plans to test it on his friends this Halloween. Mwahaha!

When he started, the house smelled pleasantly like downtown Peoria. Or St. Louis near the Ralston plant. (I haven’t been in either city since the sixties, and for all I know both are now entirely sweet-smelling.) There’s a lot of malt in this brew, and the beer should be strong. After it came to a boil, and he had explained the proteins’ unwinding and rewinding, Sam added baskets of hops from the garden. Now the house has a perfumey-citrusy smell. Boy, you got the place smellin’ like a Kansas City fancy house.

The three gallons of water, malt, and hops will boil for an hour, with occasional stirring. Toward the end of the boil, Sam will add more hops. At the end of the hour, he’ll take the kettle outside, and dunk a copper coil into it. Running water from the garden hose through the coil will cool the liquid, which is called “wort,” and pronounced “wert.” Like a good permaculturist, Sam will water plants with the runoff. Yeast goes into the cooled wort, and the whole mess goes into a seven-gallon bucket, with enough additional water to make five gallons, and a little gadget on top that lets air out but doesn’t let air in.

Two weeks from now, he’ll siphon the liquid off, leaving a layer of yeast behind, add some more water, and let the proposed beer sit for four more weeks. (The water at this step wouldn’t be necessary, if he had used dried hops instead of what he’d just found by the alley. It’s a matter of volume.) More yeast settles out, and the beer and some corn sugar go into a keg to grow bubbles.

Sam already has his costume, a white lab coat. He plans to smudge it with charcoal, blacken his face, and make his hair stick out wildly with gel. Marissa is keeping her costume a secret.

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