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I have always had a fascination with the brewer's arts, especially in my readings of history, it seems that every farmstead had its own brewery, first because water was suspect, and secondly because ale and beer was heavy and expensive to move.

What better way to see for myself the challenges of brewing, and creating different brews than to try it for myself? Besides, reading about the process fascinated me and I had to try it for myself and if I brewed my own I could actually build a beer that I could stand to drink.

But, then with homebrewing I discovered craft beer and rediscovered an appreciation for real beer (or more specifically ale) and also cider and mead, and the various incarnations of these as well.

Part of what I want to do is figure out what each of the races in my writing would drink, besides whiskeys of course, its illegal to distill liquor after all.

So far I see the Talmarii drinking Scottish Ales, the Dwarves a heavy robust porter, the Elves Lambic, mead for the barbarian clans and tribes, light pale ales for the aldoran, I still have quite a bit to cipher out in this, but I'm working on it.

I like Scottish Ales and robust porters, it's next to impossible to find a 60/- here, but the batch I brewed jumped it to the top of my list, my favorite brew out on the town is Deschute's Black Butte Porter, I may just have to plan a pilgrimage to their brewery over in Oregon soon.

If you want to build up some good brewing knowledge then you'd have to go a long way to find better sources than the Brewing Network. The Sunday Session, Brew Strong, The Jamil Show aka You can Brew It,) The Home Brewed Chef and even the show that shall not be named (Lunch Meat.)

The first thing you usually hear when people recommend the BN is some wishy-washy "Um, the language and jokes can get raw" disclaimer. Well, screw that noise. These guys are talking about brewing beer, if you're looking for family friendly programming then see if somebody has started the lemonade network. They educate brewers, not future beer snobs. Lectures by someone sipping with a pinky sticking out is an option for some, but I'm listening to be both educated and entertained by people that talk the walk and walk the talk.

We're talking about award national winning brewers like Tasty, Doc and Jamil and guests from the length and breadth of home and craft brewing, people that aren't shy about sharing knowledge, tips & tricks, and even recipes, including a clone recipes, such as their clone of my beloved Black Butte Porter. Added to their homebrewing information they they talk craft beer with the brewers and I can't begin to count how many good recommendations they've given me over the years. Give it a listen and if you can't hang, your loss.


Mmmmm Beeeeeeeer!

I should be ashamed for the Simpson's reference, but what the hell every now and then you need a good quote and this one fit nicely. I gave up on beer for most of 20 years, who could blame me? Budweiser, Miller Genuine Draft, Coors and all of the other brews that give American Beer a bad name world wide.

In Budweiser's defense I should point out that it is the best selling beer in the world, so you can't just blame American tastes for it, swilling bad beer is obviously a global indictment.

But then after that long break I discovered what is commonly called "Craft Beer," made in small breweries across the country this is beer that goes outside the clones of the big brewers, finally there's something out there besides pale, low-hopped lagers and pilsners.

Give me a heavy malt with light hops and I'm a happy man. Hops have their place, they keep beer from spoiling and give it a longer shelf life, but they also impart bitterness. I don't mind a bit of bitterness in my beer but I tend to avoid the higher hopped brews. I also like dark malty ales, you can keep the pale stuff, I like the dark roast flavors and peat notes that come with a good Scottish Ale or Porter.

Much like everything else the first thing I did was research, Goggle is my friend as always and I started listening to podcasts from the Brewing Network and then one day I ordered a simple beer making kit, the one to the right. I found it at Midwest Homebrewing and Winemaking Supplies, who I also order almost all of my brewing supplies from. Their Scottish 60 Shilling Kit, for example, is VERY good ale!

I'm what's called an extract brewer, meaning that instead of the expensive equipment required, and the much longer brew day I use extract instead of grain in my brewing. The difference in a good all-grain system, like the one below and this good but will set you back around $1,500.

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't at all mind going to a full brewery setup, but lets face facts, I can come up with many more uses for that kind of money at this point in time. Some don't think extract is real brewing, but I don't see them lining up to give me brewery donations either. Money talks, and mine can't raise its voice nearly that volume, money talks, but mine speaks at a whisper, with laryngitis.

To date my brewing resume includes Porter, Scottish Ale (60/- & 80/-), Braggot, Belgian Lambic (with blueberries, marion berries, lingon berries and raspberries), hard cider, mead, hard lemonade, raspberryade and blackberryade (I can't keep blackberry around very long when I brew it up.) Now I'm contemplating sour apple-ade and hopefully a hard root beer, which has been elusive so far. There are more updates in my blog about the various brews that I'm planning or that I've done so far.