This article was originally published in the November/December 2000 issue of Zymurgy magazine in the World of Worts column. Join the American Homebrewers Association to gain access to the Zymurgy online archive.
The past 18 months has taken me on journeys, meeting and talking with homebrewers and beer enthusiasts in over 15 states. Other travels have taken me farther afield in the quest of not only understanding the brewing world we live in, but why it is we pride ourselves as brewers. We do, don’t we?
I recall my origins as a brewer (the details of which you may have already read in the introduction to my book, The Home Brewers’s Companion) and to this day there dwells in me a certain undefined pride, of being knowledgeable in the brewers’ craft. I’m sure that it dwells in the soul of every brewer, yet the fact that it dwells doesn’t necessarily easily define its presence. Before I get too esoteric let me back into my, and probably your own history.
Remember the message most of us heard as we embarked on our first batches of beer? “It’s easy.” “Anyone can do it.” So we embarked. For all its simplicity, we found immense satisfaction and enjoyment from the process of learning how and actually making beer. Yes, it was true. With the availability of information, quality ingredients and convenient packages of malt extract kits anyone can make beer.
But the mystery about our pride as continuing brewers remains. You realize that beyond the simplicity of beginning to homebrew, there is a knowledge that emerges within every brewer. Everywhere in the world, whether we are amateur or professional brewers, we build upon our experiences and develop a skill that no one can ever take away. Those skills and worldly knowledge have been shared and have evolved for over 5,000 years. Whether you have been brewing for one year or over twenty, the life skills you learn by brewing is not a simple-anyone-can-do proposition. By becoming and continuing as a brewer you have become someone special; someone who not only gains experience, but also uses it to craft works of art and science for authentic enjoyment. This is a rarity in today’s worldview of values. Despite the trends toward speed and convenience, brewers are of a special breed. They are able to experience the pride of accomplishment and mastery of self satisfying skills that no can ever deny or take away.
So we know it is simple to become a homebrewer. Yes, anyone can do it. But to brew and develop our own knowledge of the craft over so many years, this is something very special. It is not easy to do. Those of us who endeavor to brew are of a worldwide fraternity/sorority. We take the time to brew. Can we take the time to cherish the hard earned insights we have gained as brewers? Those that do not brew can never know what we know about the blending of life sciences, arts and experiences. Take pride in your endeavor as a homebrewer. You’ve earned it.
Four years ago ( 1996) I was at Larry Bell’s Kalamazoo (Michigan) Brewery. It was one of those domestic homebrew/craft brewing journeys I continue to take. Among American working people, homebrewers, beer enthusiasts, jeans, sneakers, rhinestones, a good cigar, basement beer bottle collections, a starlit night and passing fog I lay sprawled on the damp grass listening to the live music enjoying craft and homebrewed beers in the garden that is Larry’s. Nothing seems to me to be more genuine.
One week later I found myself crossing a castle moat, entering what appeared to be a crumbling ruin, a lone tower protruding into the sky. Having entered, there are thick walls that surround the circumference with 3-foot deep window wells allowing light into each balcony. The narrow spiraled staircase winds and winds and winds through four or five enormous levels of rooms, each decorated with the time of the 15th century. The floorboards creak. The ceilings are tall and airy. There are gypsies in the attic. Jesters and musicians wander in the spirit of the time. The tall grand mirror in the second floor banquet room is smoked with gray film.
I am in the countryside just outside of Amsterdam celebrating my enthronement into the BierConvent International. Dinner is served over a period of three hours. Jenever and beer flow abundantly.
Dusty Mud Irish-Style Stout
This is one of the Big Brew 2018 official recipes.
- Original Gravity: 1.038–1.042 (9.5–10.5 B)
- Final Gravity: 1.012 (3 B)
- ABV: 3.7%
- IBU: ~20
- SRM: 46
Ingredients for 6 gallons (23 L):
- 7.5 lb. (2.9 kg) pale malt
- 1 lb. (454 g) English crystal malt (15–20 L)
- 1 lb. (454 g) roasted barley
- 0.5 lb. (227 g) black malt
- 0.25 oz. (7 g) First Gold whole hops (60 min)
- 0.40 oz. (11 g) Kent Goldings whole hops (60 min)
- 0.25 oz. (35 g) Willamette whole hops (60 min)
- 0.25 oz. (7 g) Cascade hops (0 min)
- 0.25 tsp. powdered Irish moss
- 6 oz. (170 g) corn sugar for priming bottles, or 2.6 oz. (74 g) corn sugar for kegging
- Your favorite brand of Irish Ale Yeast
Mash all grains at 152° F (67° C) for one hour. Lauter and sparge with enough 168° F (76° C) water to achieve a pre-boil volume of approximately 7 gallons (26.5 L). Bring wort to a boil and continue to boil for one hour, adding hops as indicated. When 10 minutes remain add Irish moss. After a total wort boil of 60 minutes, turn off the heat, strain out hops, and chill wort to room temperature.
Direct the cooled wort into a sanitized fermenter, and add additional cold water to achieve a 6-gallon (23 L) batch size if necessary. Add a starter culture of yeast when temperature of wort is about 70 °F (21 °C). Preferably ferment at 65–72° F (18–22° C) for about 7–12 days or until fermentation is complete and the beer appears to clear and darken. For best results, “cellar” or age at 50° F (10° C) for 2–3 days to help drop yeast out of suspension, but this is not at all crucial to the quality. Bottle with corn sugar. Age and carbonate/condition at temperatures between 60° and 70° F (15.5–21° C) until clear (about one week).
Dusty Mud will quench the thirst and revive the spirit of simplicity and quality brewing. Teach a friend the way you first learned to brew—after all you’re still brewing and enjoying it!
Visit our homebrew recipe archive for the extract version of this recipe.
BierConvent International is an international organization, based out of Munich. I was invited by Prinz Luitpold von Bayern as the second American to join (the first was August Busch, III). BCI’s members are not only brewers, but people of many backgrounds embracing quality, beer appreciation, and the sensitivity to the humanity and international pride portraying what beer has always meant to be.
At my enthronement I reverently sit and watch from the front row, the enthronement of others, including the president of Heineken and Grolsch. Our ceremonies take place inside a massive area of what was once a church cathedral in Amsterdam. I sit among the hundreds gathered as though attending a wedding. A pianist plays classical music. A string quartet plays Schubert and Mozart. I stare in disbelief at the color patterns of the immense and extraordinary flower arrangements, in the balconies high above; a bright spotlight intensifies the colors. There is an imposingly ridiculous red throne in front of me at center stage.
At my enthronement they speak of my background and comment that if the BCI had not been founded in the 1960s, there’s no doubt that Charlie Papazian would have founded it in 1996. The background is over and I turn to receive my medallion and accompanying neck ribbon and drink from a very large pewter mug a long draft of brew. The grand pianist bangs away in dramatic fashion as I swallow, and swallow, the beer dribbling down the right side of my beard onto my tuxedo-I just keep swallowing. It tastes great, my head tilting skywards, the deep pewter mug trailing off into darkness. As I near the finish my eyes look beyond the beer. High, very high above is a huge gold gilded domed ceiling, arching toward the center in grandeur. There in the middle at the highest point, beyond the chandeliers, the gold leaf buttresses, the stained glass windows, enormous flower arrangements, an impending belch and the surrounding grandeur are two tiny balloons. No one notices but me. Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck are watching over us in their helium-inflated gaze. There is a twinkle in my eye. Nothing seems to me to be more genuine. I finish the nectar that helped bring me here and everywhere.
The twinkle continues as I realize with the pride every homebrewer knows, that it is all the same but different.
So let’s cut the shuck and jive and get on with the recipe (editor’s note: the recipe is above).
Sure, we know that it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to make an Irish style stout every bit as worthy as the classic brands from around the world. Yes it is simple. Anyone can do it, but the element of experience and years of brewing add something special that is not quite definable except perhaps as brewers pride. Yet you can taste the difference, can’t you?
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Charlie Papazian is the founder of the American Homebrewers Association and Brewers Association, as well as author of The Complete Joy of Homebrewing.