Strange Brew

27 Oct

Huge pots, strong smells and flannel clad men in pick up trucks. What could it be?

The early(ish) hours of this morning found me at the Montgomeryville Barrel Brew at Keystone Homebrew Supply in Montgomeryville, PA.

http://www.keystonehomebrew.com/

Not fearing the approaching monster storm of the century, homebrewers from Pennsylvania and New Jersey gathered at Keystone Homebrew Supply to do what they love, brew beer.

It started early. At 7:30 am the first truck rolled up. And they kept coming until after 10 am. They set up what appeared to be make-shift science labs, with shining pots and tubes, thermometers and huge wooden paddles.

Marc from Pale Ales in NJ

One club, The Brotherhood of Brewers, had a more historic approach, prefering to use a copper kettle over a wood fire. The draw of the their Smoky Porter was irresistable.

http://b3.a8ball.net/

I spoke to the members of B.O.B. who told me of the history of brewing. The oldest recipe for beer goes back several thousand  years to Sumaria, found in the tomb of the king. Many of the recipes the Brotherhood use derive from the middle ages, a challenge, I was told to not only read the Old English but to convert the old units of measurements. How much is in a hogshead?

And while we are on the subject of  Old English, I sampled a very fine Braggot. I may seem like an authority, but it was only a few seconds before sipping it that I learned it is a blend of herbs and honey. And supremely mellow, especially the relaxing blend created by the fine brewers of WHALES.

Brad from WHALES

I was also enamored by their chocolate chipotle ale. Not all chocolate ales produce the chocolate flavor they promise but this not only had the yummy chocolate taste, but a naughty little kick of chipotle.

Now, as a afficionado of curious food, I was curious about odd beers. I spoke to Justin who works at Keystone about his own strange brews. In short… PB&J ale is a win. Cool Ranch Dorito Ale = Fail.

 Justin at the stand for the very local Round Guys Brewing  of Lansdale, PA. Their Hoppy American Saison was everything Cool Ranch Dorito Ale isn’t.

And the fun continued inside. Many were the humorously named homebrews kits on offer inside the Keystone Supply shop…

Outside again, I built up the courage to approach the bad boys of brewing, the Barley Legal club…

With their beards and their  black club t-shirts, they gave the impression of an outlaw motorcycle gang. I was nervous to enter their “turf” but I couldn’t go home without knowing what they brewed. They offered me a taste of their Belgian Quad made from three different herbs (including rosemary) which was very smooth and sweet. Surely to make an ale like this they couldn’t be that evil. I was beginning to think their rough exterior hid a kind and sensitive inside. However, when they started to joke about blood in the brew, I began to slowly back away.

http://www.barleylegalhomebrewers.com/

The next stop was to meet the lovely lads of Bruclear (like nuclear) from Limerick, PA. A friendly group of fellows creating a sumptuous Scottish Stout…

It was very enjoyable without being heavy. And the name? Teebag. They say it’s named after the golf tees, as the Scottish are famous for their golf courses. But I could tell by the mischevious look in their eyes, that the name meant something a little more deviant.

http://www.bruclear.com/

I asked Jason, the owner of Keystone Homebrew (his back to us, in a Hawaiian shirt, in the above photo) what started his passion for homebrewing. He told me that when he was in high school he was told to write an instructional essay on how to do something. His friend wrote an essay on how to brew beer. After the teacher read the essay, he recommended the boys visit a certain bookshop which sold homebrew books. It wasn’t long after that Jason and his friend were making their own beers. And so the passion was born.

 Sweet mystery of life, Question Mark Ale. (from Glub)

Jason’s own essay was on how to make a snowman.

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