Happy “Brewing!”

By , January 12, 2012

I read recently that tomorrow, January 13th was once the date of the ancient festival called, simply, “Brewing.”

The ancient Celts saw the 13th as the longest, coldest day of winter, and, coming at midwinter, designated it the day to check the grain stores to see if the clan would make it through the rest of the season.

If they didn’t have enough, things would be difficult. Conservation measures would be instated, and the people would pray for a quick and mild end to the winter.

But, if they had enough—even a surplus, perhaps—then they’d make ale with the extra!

My source doesn’t say, but I suppose, if the people had enough grain to make beer, they figured the gods could make the rest of the winter as long and miserable as they wanted. Gotta love those practical old Celts.

To honor my forebears, and to make a pleasure out of necessity, as they did, I’m celebrating Brewing tomorrow myself, not by making ale, but by racking our latest batch of wine, and beginning a new one.

secondary fermentation

Meanwhile, upstairs . . . a batch of wine perks quietly away in secondary fermentation (Photo: Mark Zeiger).

I’ve been very excited about restarting our wine making efforts. We’ve seen good progress so far.

We’ve got two batches underway, with a third starting tomorrow. I’m eager to get started on that third batch, as I fully expect the second batch to fail. I made it with the fruit from the first batch (which would be a “second pressing were we a vineyard) and used wine yeast extended from the original packet, much as I would a sourdough. The batch has perked along quietly, but hasn’t made the progress of the first, so I’m assuming it won’t be prime. We’ll likely drink it as a “young” wine if it’s palatable. If it’s not palatable, we’ll find something else to do with it. It won’t go to waste—at very worst we’ll dump it on the compost pile, which will certainly benefit from it.

I’ve been building airlocks to allow to supplement the two manufactured ones I have, so that we can keep the assembly line going. They took a bit of experimentation, but the results are good. I’ll describe that in detail in a future post.

In the meantime, what better way to celebrate the longest, coldest day of winter than by making a friendly beverage. Happy Brewing to all!



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