Porter #2 is Tasting Darn Good…

Sorry about my being such a blog slacker, but I’ve been a bit busy celebrating my 50th birthday and learning about Traditional Chinese Medicine so I can start enhancing my Qi (vital energy) before menopause kicks in. In spite of all this, I have not neglected my homebrewing – I’ve just neglected writing about it.

To catch up, Porter #2 is an extract/grain clone recipe of Fuller’s London Porter. I brewed this batch on April 27th, transferred it to the secondary fermentor on Mother’s Day (not a bad Mother’s Day activity!), and bottled the beer yesterday (May 25th).

Before adding the priming sugar my hubby and I tasted the beer. Wow! It was really good. I even refilled my glass. This is a beer I will enjoy drinking! I’m already planning to brew a second batch of the same recipe, because I know that this batch won’t last very long once it’s done. The flavors were clean and the malt and hops came through very nicely. This is going to be a darn good Porter.

Now I’m in a quandary. I hesitated to give out my first beer because I didn’t want to impose my weak brewing skills on others. If I was going to share my beer, I wanted it to be worth drinking. Now that I clearly have a good beer, I have this strange impulse to horde it! I’m starting to feel stingy with this beer and it’s not even finished yet. What’s going on here?

I didn’t care for my first batch of Porter. I was able to identify a few positive qualities in it, but had no desire to drink much more than a partial bottle. Fortunately I found a few people who loved my beer, so was able to be generous with it so it didn’t go to waste. There was something in the aroma that I didn’t care for and I concluded that it was from the dry yeast I used.

While looking for advice to improve my beer, my brother-in-law told me to use liquid yeast and change the recipe. What a difference those two suggestions made! The aroma and flavor have improved tremendously with the liquid yeast, and the hop and malt balances in this new recipe are much better than the previous batch.

Two weeks of bottle conditioning and “Jenne’s London Porter” should be ready for a taste test. I’m actually excited this time and will look forward to cracking open my first bottle of Porter #2.

-Jenne Hiigel

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Beer & Knitting Night…

Wow! It’s looking like Beer & Knitting Night is starting to catch on. Tonight we all met at The Clubhouse at This Old House in San Luis Obispo.

I was expecting the usual 6-10 knitters to show up for some knitting, beer, snacks, and conversation. My son Lewis and his girlfriend Sara came with me and we arrived about a half hour late. We walked into a room with a very large table of knitters, as the staff was adding yet another table to the end. At final count I think we had 23 attendees. Several people looked at me and said, “Jenne, look what you’ve created!” It was pretty cool. Everyone was having a great time.

There were many familiar faces from previous Beer & Knitting nights, but a lot of new attendees – most of whom I knew from other knit groups and knitting activities, and some new faces as well. Conversation was not a problem, yarn was plentiful, projects were admired, beer was flowing and the food kept coming. We even got a bit of knitting done!

My reason for starting Beer & Knitting Night was two-fold. First was to research the qualities of a pub, bar or restaurant that complimented the knitting process and made it comfortable for knitters to go there for beer & knitting. The second reason was to see how many knitters were also interested in beer.

Tonight I clearly got the answer to my second question. Many knitters definitely like beer. Even though not everyone was drinking beer (some were drinking wine, mixed drinks, or soda), they all found the celebratory atmosphere of beer drinking appealing.

As far as my first question goes, I’m getting more and more clues about what makes a good beer joint also a good knit joint. The management’s ability to be flexible and enjoy the festive nature of the gathering makes a huge difference. Good lighting and a reasonable noise level (of music or other distractions) are critical. I’m finding that knitters can be pretty flexible with seating arrangements, although tables with chairs are still better than booths or bar stools.

It was a great night and a pleasure to behold such enthusiasm for both crafts. Our research is still not done (hopefully it won’t ever be), so there will be more Beer & Knitting nights in the future. Anne Gough, owner of the knit shop Yarns at the Adobe, suggested we have a beer potluck on her patio behind her yarn shop sometime soon. We’ll definitely have to work that into the schedule.

For anyone thinking of starting a Beer & Knitting group in their own neighborhood, I would definitely recommend it.

-Jenne Hiigel