Category Archives: and More

Pony Bar, Upper East Side, NYC




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Brewing Methods: All-Grain vs. Extract

The Great Brewing (Self-)Debate of 2012 here at St. Cecilia Brewery is whether or not (or when) to make the plunge into All-Grain Brewing.

Here’s a break-down of the pros and cons of each.

* Ease of method
* Less Equipment required
* Tried-and-true
* Takes less time.
* Shorter, fewer-steps process means less opportunity for contamination or screw-ups along the way
* More expensive than All-Grain batch-by-batch, particularly when designing my own recipes and not staying with pre-designed packaged kits
* More stylistically limited
* Have to deal with %$¢´£ messy and hard-to-work-with jugs of liquid malt syrup and bags of DME
* Some styles harder to perfect: difficult to make light-coloured beers consistent.

* More control and flexibility of product
* Access to a wider array of styles not possible with Extract Brewing
* More economical and cost-effective (at least in the long run), particularly when designing my own recipes
* More hands-on and from-scratch sense of pride and production. More authenticity to the brewing art.
* Don’t have to deal with %$¢´£ messy and hard-to-work-with jugs of liquid malt syrup and bags of DME
* Longer, more involved process means longer brewing days
* Longer, more involved process means more opportunity for contamination or screw-ups along the way
* Up-front equipment costs (although there are options here, some homemade)
* Learning curve involved with new processes means my first couple batches will be shots in the dark.
* Have to pay more attention to nuances such as water temperature, pH, and chemical makeup not necessarily important to Extract brewing

At the end of the day, I know that All-Grain is going to win out. It’s mostly a matter of shoring up my courage to try something new, and my willingness to spend the extra time with the process.  Reading about the Brew-in-a-Bag method has also piqued my curiosity.

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On Summertime and Cocktails

From time to time (but not too often), we depart from the world of barley malt, hops, and yeast to take a nod to the world of spirits.

The US East Coast is currently suffering from an obnoxiously oppressive heat wave.  Desperate times call for desperate beverages.  With an end-of-the-month larder and cupboard, I was hard-pressed to craft something appropriate and refreshing.  Then, I thought to myself, mojito! A mojito would hit the spot! This thought, pleasant as it was, was soon followed by no mint leaves to be found.  Surely, with every other ingredient at hand save the mint, I could do something to achieve the cool, refreshing summer beverage.   In my heat-induced stupour,  a clear thought entered my mind: basil. Try using basil.   The results: stupendous.

A cool refreshing summer beverage was to be had, and a new cocktail star is born. Only after the fact did a Google search reveal that many others have made this discovery long before me.

Basil Mojito

Take a handful (8-10) fresh basil leaves.  Muddle in the bottom of a cocktail shaker along with 1/3 oz lime juice and 1 1/2 oz sugar syrup.
Add ice cubes and 2 to 3 oz quailty rum (PermsPicks recommends Goslings Black Rum or English Harbour). Shake well.
Pour into an Old Fashioned glass, top off with club soda, and garnish with a lime wedge.

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Wisdom from the French

Don’t let the wine lobby fool you. The French know what’s good.

Remember: Beer has food value; food has no beer value.

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Mr. Jefferson Comes Home


“I am lately become a brewer for family use, having had the benefit of instruction to one of my people by an English brewer of the first order.”

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Joseph Coppinger, 1815

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Beer in Literature, I

Alfred Edward Housman (1859-1936), classicist, scholar, and poet:

“Terence, this is stupid stuff:
You eat your victuals fast enough;
There can’t be much amiss, ’tis clear,
To see the rate you drink your beer.
But oh, good Lord, the verse you make,
It gives a chap the belly-ache.
The cow, the old cow, she is dead;
It sleeps well, the horned head:
We poor lads, ’tis our turn now
To hear such tunes as killed the cow.
Pretty friendship ’tis to rhyme
Your friends to death before their time
Moping melancholy mad:
Come, pipe a tune to dance to, lad.”
Why, if ’tis dancing you would be,
There’s brisker pipes than poetry.
Say, for what were hop-yards meant,
Or why was Burton built on Trent?
Oh many a peer of England brews
Livelier liquor than the Muse,
And malt does more than Milton can
To justify God’s ways to man.
Ale, man, ale’s the stuff to drink
For fellows whom it hurts to think:
Look into the pewter pot
To see the world as the world’s not.
And faith, ’tis pleasant till ’tis past:
The mischief is that ’twill not last.
Oh I have been to Ludlow fair
And left my necktie God knows where,
And carried half way home, or near,
Pints and quarts of Ludlow beer:
Then the world seemed none so bad,
And I myself a sterling lad;
And down in lovely muck I’ve lain,
Happy till I woke again.
Then I saw the morning sky:
Heigho, the tale was all a lie;
The world, it was the old world yet,
I was I, my things were wet,
And nothing now remained to do
But begin the game anew.
Therefore, since the world has still
Much good, but much less good than ill,
And while the sun and moon endure
Luck’s a chance, but trouble’s sure,
I’d face it as a wise man would,
And train for ill and not for good.
‘Tis true, the stuff I bring for sale
Is not so brisk a brew as ale:
Out of a stem that scored the hand
I wrung it in a weary land.
But take it: if the snack is sour,
The better for the embittered hour;
It should do good to heart and head
When your soul is in my soul’s stead;
And I will friend you, if I may,
In the dark and cloudy day.
There as a king reigned in the east:
There, when kings will sit to feast,
They get their fill before they think
With poisoned meat and poisoned drink.
He gathered all that springs to birth
From the many-venomed earth;
First a little, thence to more,
He sampled all her killing store;
And easy, smiling, seasoned sound,
Sate the king when healths went round.
They put arsenic in his meat
And stared aghast to watch him eat;
They poured strychnine in his cup
And shook to see him drink it up:
They shook, they stared as white’s their shirt:
Them it was their poison hurt.
–I tell the tale that I heard told.
Mithridates, he died old.

(A Shropshire Lad, No.LXII)

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When in England…

…drink beer.

This website will help you decide where.

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