As the magic of beer has showcased over the last year, I enjoy beer on a seasonal basis. As I am about to finish off the Pumpkins and Octoberfests for the season, I am very much looking forward to the winter warmers that will be available throughout November and December.
Suddenly, I realized that this can also be applied to homebrewing. Earlier this year, I got involved in homebrewing as a hobby. Not only is it fun, but the end result is beer. I started out by brewing a couple of my favorite styles with kits, but recently successfully brewed
a more experimental beer for the late summer using a wheat beer recipe and adding pomegranate for a beer to honor Demeter with the wheat and Persephone with the pomegranate. The beer is delicious, but I fear that I might have bottled it too late to truly enjoy - the crisp wheat beers are no longer what my taste buds are craving as the season turns colder. Not that I won’t drink it, however.
This error in timing made me think about a new approach for brewing. I brewed the wheat beer in the late summer because that is what I wanted at the time, but I didn’t take into account the fermentation and bottling process that led to it not being drinkable until October. While I still plan to enjoy it, it just isn’t the same. But home brewed beer can be brewed seasonally, and the traditional Wiccan/Pagan Wheel of the Year provides the prefect template. That is why I am brewing my Yule beer at Samhain! And, check this out – I can then brew my Imbolc Beer at Yule and my Spring Equinox beer at Imbolc! And it goes on and on. Why didn’t I think of this before. The brewing itself can be a beautiful act of devotion and the resulting beverage will be ready to be consumed at the next holiday – the one for which it was intended! What a brilliantly natural system. I’m glad someone thought of it!
My Yule beer is a Gingerbread Porter. That sounds delicious. I am taking a slightly modified porter recipe a friend recently brewed and, per the suggestion of this book
, adding gingerbread spices to make a delicious wintertime beer. I am so excited I could burst.
If you’re so inclined, you too can brew your own beer. There is a small up front investment – I got everything I needed for about $200. Once you have all that though the beer ingredients are not terribly expensive and cheaper than buying beer in the grocery store or at the bar.
The rest of the process is really an equal portions preparation, ingredients and waiting. I began to brew my Yule Gingerbread Porter about 7pm and finished about 11pm, including clean up. The resulting wort, which I always sample, tasted heavily of the gingerbread spices – ginger, clove, cinnamon and allspice. Then it was placed in a carboy with the yeast to do its magic.
In mid-November, when I get back from a trip to South Africa
, I will bottle said beer. Once it is bottled it needs to condition for a couple more weeks before it is completely ready. If it is good, I think I will give it to friends and family for the holidays (act surprised if you get one). And, closer to Yule I will begin to brew my Imbolc beer – appropriately, a Milk Stout. And on Yule proper, I will crack open my Gingerbread Porter and share it with the Gods, a harvest of the seeds I planted at Samhain.