As I mentioned in a previous post, graduate school is doing its best to take over my life. Now that summer is here, though, I’m attempting to make the most of time and brew while I can, and hereby declare summer 2012 “The Summer of Brews.”
First up in the summer rotation, last month, was an English Best Bitter in the style of Oxfordshire’s Brakspear. The recipe and ingredients were from Northern Brewer’s limited-release “Broken Spear” kit, to which I added 1/2 oz UK Pilgrim hops to the dry-hop bill. In honor of Oxford’s finest, I named it Taverner’s Bitter. Along with this brewing re-boot I’ve also given my labels something of a facelift as well.
Full disclosure: John Taverner is one of my favourite composers of all time. It’s fitting, therefore, that he finally get his own label, and doubly fitting that it be for one of my favourite beer styles (and, fortuitously after the fact, one of my favourite homebrew recipes). And what an especially apt name for a beer.
Historical trivia: Taverner, appointed by Wolsey as the first organist and master of the Choristers at Cardinal College (later renamed Christ Church), Oxford, was reprimanded in 1528 for heresy (consorting with Lutherans), but was spared punishment on account of his being “but a musician.” He retired from musical life at the College in 1530, enjoying a comfortable 15-year retirement as a landowner in Lincolnshire. An old legend states that he worked as a spy and agent for Thomas Cromwell, assisting in the dissolution of the monasteries, but this is most certainly not true. He was, interestingly, one of the very first English composers to write for the viol consort, inventing and popularizing the form of the In nomine which was to remain a mainstay of English instrumental writing through the time of Henry Purcell.
While I’m still brewing extract (aside from the occasional partial-mash), I’m on the verge of moving to all-grain brewing. It’s a bit intimidating to ponder, but I know that in the long run it will be a good move, allowing not only cost savings but also more control and versatility. Stay tuned for updates on this technique shift.
At the end of the day, after an 8-month hiatus in brewing, it’s good to know that I can still cook up a tasty brew.