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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to fill the lauter tun as quickly as possible but only at a certain temperature. Increase the flow too much, and the temperature started to drop. Correct for that, and the flow began to decrease. I had a big round dial in front of me, about the only nondigital measuring device in the brewhouse, that I watched intently, twisting the tap first this way, then that to keep the water flowing in at a consistent 170 degrees Fahrenheit. While I was busy with this, Darren started the rakes rotating inside

obvious that not just any beer style would work with the wild yeast. After our first yeast experiment, we tried out the yeast on some of the wort from our Mocha Chocolate Valentine’s Day Stout, putting it in our fancy fermenting rig, and then setting it on the kitchen pass-through wrapped in a towel with a lamp trained on the bottle to encourage it to ferment. When we decanted this, it had definitely fermented. And it was also definitely foul. Featuring chocolate and coffee, our Mocha Chocolate

our Fit. A big jump from those little packets of carrot seeds you buy at the supermarket. I MAY NOT have known anything about farming, but I had the one indispensable accessory that any would-be agrarian needs: a farm. Two hundred acres or so in the Ottawa Valley. My wife and a group of people she has known since university bought it in the mid-1970s. They’d realized the dream that a lot of people had in the tail end of the back-to-the-land era. When they talk about the acreage, it is invariably

have one, just some sitting in the refrigerator in the form of sourdough starter and a tub of dregs I had left over after I’d bottled Wild Thang, Vivien suggested I send the latter. I poured some into a small bottle, cushioned it in Bubble Wrap and fired it off. In my heart of hearts, I hoped that it turned out to be something really special, Brettanomyces couttsiensis, say, though I figured it would be something far more mundane. Unfortunately, Jay Martiniuk could only get bacteria out of the

inside our gate, with a southern exposure and good drainage. I’d also had a chance to look at a soil map for Renfrew County, a wild swirling mass of color that looked like a cross between a Rorschach test and a Jackson Pollock painting. This tiny little patch was sandier than anywhere else on the farm, which made it our best potential barley patch. Water can trickle down to the roots in sandy soils; clay soils tend to hold it. I’d marked out the area with small metal stakes and pieces of

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