Written by Henry Hunt
Ralph has been brewing a little over 15 years. As an engineer, he has designed, constructed and pieced together much of his equipment. He has a pretty good beer basement set up starting with the most important part – a refrigerator with taps to dispense the beer he brews, plus a steady supply of Bluegrass Brewing Company beverages that carry him through low homebrew production periods. Ralph (remember engineer) everything is timed, tested, measured and documented. And his equipment (engineer not architect) is constructed for function, not for Southern Living.
Ralph decided to brew the first beer he ever brewed and one of his favorites, Single Dad’s Porter. It derives its name from the fact that his wife and kids were out of town, which gave him the free time to brew his first beer. Now that the kids are older, he has more time to get back into brewing.
This Porter gets a rich complex flavor from Black Patent, Chocolate and Chrystal Malt plus a little Roasted Barley added to the 2 Row Barley. Cascade hops add the bitter and Hallertau the flavor in this brew that uses a British Ale yeast to complete the Porter.
We started the brewing process by pouring a Cumberland Brewery Porter, which I brought. The brewing process also involved “tasting” a BBC Ebenezer from Ralph’s assume tap, my Cocoa Bee Ale and Ralph’s excellent Rye IPA. Brewing is a long process and one get’s thirsty along the journey.
Ralph cut the top out of discarded keg to create his boil kettle. From tasting his Rye IPA and an earlier batch of his Stout, this is a much better use of metal then dispensing flavored water that rhymes with TOURS and is brewed in the mountains from a state above New Mexico.
Ralph’s brewing operation take place partly in the kitchen, the basement and the driveway. So yes, this qualified as an aerobic workout. Edward The Cat (his full given name) acted like a personal trainer and made sure we kept up the pace in our frantic stair-master workout. This of course necessitated us to consume more beer to keep up our energy. Win-Win.
While waiting for the boil it gave us some time to survey the property behind the garage for possible locations to plant hops. So began a serious agrarian discussion regarding soil, sun angles, drainage and how to hang the vines. Actually, it was two over beveraged individuals stumbling around in a dark alley trying to predict where the sun was going to be in six months. Someone might need to check the calculations of that work.
The Brewer’s Thoughts.
As you might imagine, Ralph is a traditionalist when it comes to brewing. As he says, “I like my beer to taste like beer and my coffee to taste like coffee.” So all his brews follow the spirit of German Beer Purity Laws with only water, barley and hops. He believes in “lots of yeast as quick as possible”. Something the Germans didn’t know about when they wrote the law. And he racks his brew a third time for added clarity.
But as we completed our brewing and “sliming workout” we had one more task to complete. Ralph started setting aside a couple small 8 once bottles of each brew for his mother-in-law who wasn’t a big drinker, but wanted a little taste of his beer. Even though she has been gone for a number of years, Ralph still toasts each batch with just “a little taste” for Nana.