The Perfect Keg: Sowing, Scything, Malting and Brewing My Way to the Best-Ever Pint of Beer

The Perfect Keg: Sowing, Scything, Malting and Brewing My Way to the Best-Ever Pint of Beer

Ian Coutts

Language: English

Pages: 224

ISBN: 1771000082

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The perfect keg. Filled with perfect beer. A symphony of flavors in the mouth. The right blend of sweet and bitter. The fluid in that keg represents a year’s work. Actually brewing it took a few weeks. But to make it truly the perfect keg, Ian Coutts had to go right back to fundamentals. This beer didn’t start with a beer-making kit, which is what most homebrewers use. And it didn’t rely on pre-roasted industrial malt, which is how commercial brewers big and small do it. Coutts made his own malt, aerating wet barley with an aquarium bubbler and blasting it with a hair dryer. Of course, to do that he needed barley. So he grew his own. Hops, too. Yeast, he went out and captured. And that's it. With this beer, the only additives are knowledge and history. There were plenty of adventures, misadventures, and missteps along the way, but Ian writes about them with humor and aplomb, including his own recipes and those of people he worked with in the brewing process, proving it’s possible to make the perfect keg of wholly natural beer in one year.

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in, it seemed the sort of ale that a humble artisan might have drunk at lunch way back when. So by late May, I had my what, at least potentially, and I was starting to learn more about the how. My crops were doing their thing. It was just a case of keeping my head down and moving forward. SCARCELY FOUR DAYS passed after planting before I could get back to the farm, but I fretted while I was away. If I’m honest, however, I have to admit that my presence wouldn’t have made much difference. Either

point toward a seventh — something between taste and smell and touch, which also, I swear, involves the eyes but not in a visual sense. I was going to be working with Darren himself today. Later in the week, I would make pale ale with Chris, a university pal of Darren’s who had been Lake of Bays’ first hire. Their styles differed. Darren was intense, Chris a little more relaxed — not sloppy (in fact, it had been Chris who had developed the complex spreadsheets that we followed to brew), just a

other grains, such as corn or rice, that are cheaper than barley. Beers made with these adjuncts, which is what they are called, revolutionized brewing in North America, giving us many of the dominant beers of the late twentieth century — Budweiser and Labatt Blue, for example. The adjuncts made them — depending on your point of view — either smooth and crisp, or bland and uninteresting. But two-row barley hadn’t been counted out just yet. With the interest in craft brewing that started in the

people encouraged me in what sometimes seemed like an insane project and helped me in creating my beer. For their technical help and the example they set, I want to thank two great brewers, Darren Smith of Lake of Bays Brewing and Edward Koren from the brewery at Black Creek Pioneer Village. I am also grateful to Duane Falk, professor emeritus in the Department of Plant Agriculture at the University of Guelph, and Jay Martiniuk at the University of British Columbia. Thanks also to Professor

and reaping a crop by hand. If, that is, I got the chance. Spring had arrived very late this year. The ground was still very wet, which meant farmers couldn’t get out to the fields on their tractors. A few weeks before, I’d spoken vaguely to Harold about plowing an area for me to plant barley in, but at that point, I hadn’t even figured out where exactly I wanted my crop to go. Last week I found out that he was going into the hospital on May 10 for a hip replacement. He would be out of

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