Fermenting: Pico-brewing

Short brim, small beer, nuff said
Short brim, small beer, nuff said

Micro-brews have been bhut jolokia-hot since the mid 80’s and show no sign of going anywhere but up on the hotness scale. Talking about micro-brews, of course, is even hotter. Presently you get to impress your friends with knowledge of hop varieties, yeast strains, grain bills, roasting, malting, milling, the lovibond scale, specific-gravity, attenuation rates, flocculation, the IBU scale, head retention, mouthfeel, dry-hopping, etc. etc. etc. Of course you got a 100% on your indie band or craft-beer quiz. The problem here is that all hipsters are into micro-brews and every self respecting hipster is a homebrewer that has at least three 5-gallon batches (including a coffee stout) under their belt. So how the heck can you impress anybody on the subject anymore? I mean you could go all out and make an amazing brewkettle out of a reclaimed keg, or an electric HERMs system, but let’s face it, Kevin is probably already slaving away on a project like that in his garage with a borrowed angle grinder.

When you can’t go bigger on a supertrend like micro-brews and homebrewing you have to go the other direction … smaller. This is a solid opportunity to multi-trend because, as we’ve outlined, tiny food is stupid-hot right now. Truth be told, on the surface there’s not really much to this one … you just brew a really small batch of beer. Of course how you brew it and more importantly who notices you brewing it are the most important details. You could probably go as big as a couple of liters, but to really impress you should brew only a single pint. Either play it safe and cask condition the only universally accepted hipster style of beer, an IPA, or go bolder with a Russian imperial stout. Many hipsters will love this because “Russian,” “imperial,” and “stout” are three of the top ten hipster words to use right now, rounding out the list are “paleo,” “crossfit,” “organic,” “artisan,” “heirloom,” “croudsource,” and “bodymod.” … but I digress.

On to the brewing. Make sure it’s a busy day in the neighborhood and invite a friend over to be your “assistant to the brewmaster” (use that exact title.) If you’re feeling confident don some lederhosen, but at the very least you should accessorize with a traditional Bavarian alpine hat, it has a short brim and we all understand the importance of that. Setup your brewstand somewhere in the middle of your driveway and make sure that no trees or shrubs block the view from the intrigued onlookers. We’re going to keep it simple today with a partial mash extract batch. Don’t use your usual 6.5 gallon stainless steel brewkettle, use the smallest pot in your apartment. (Of course you live in an apartment, mortgages are for slaves.) Your brewstand should be nothing much more than a coleman camp grill. Steep your specialty grains in an actual tea bag. With this small of a batch it would be easy to overdo the 40L caramel malt. Once you’ve steeped at 162F for at least 40 minutes, bring the now wort up to 212F for your liquid malt extract and bittering hop addition. As with the specialty grain, you need to go light on the hops. Two individual cascade hops should be good here. Boil for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally with your no doubt self-whittled hickory mash paddle. Turn the heat up to encourage a few hot breaks to coagulate proteins. Next, add your flavoring hop and wait another 10 minutes. Finally, add your aroma hop and rest. Extra points if you build a tiny immersion wort chiller to get the wort down to 70F quickly, but you can just add some cold water and probably will go this route because most of your wort from this pico-brew has boiled off. Pitch some obscure yeast strain that nobody has heard of.

small beer: check beret: check
small beer: check
beret: check

After brew day let it ferment for about three weeks and plan a tiny food party. If you took our advice and already did that (kudos) fear not; just send a pigeon to Ike, Theo, and Matilda inviting them to your house for a sampling. When they arrive have the pint/secondary fermentation vessel in the center of your reclaimed wood coffee table along with four shot glasses. Before you uncork (never cap) your pico-brew explain the benefits of smaller batch sizes and educate them on the metric prefix scale and be sure that they know pico denotes 0.000000000001 the size of the typical macrobrew batch. Speaking of that, it’s nowhere near ready to drink, but you could use this event as an opportunity to show off your macrobrew cellar. Pour each guest a 3oz serving and allow it to breathe. Note the head retention. As you bring your masterpiece to you lips inhale sharply through your nose. Swish it around a bit like a seasoned taster and comment on the fruity esters from the Belgian yeast strain and the noble hop profile. Look around at your guests, satisfied, and remark “for me, anything more than a 3oz serving cuts into the appreciation of the craft.” They will eagerly nod in agreement and probably say something using the phrase “right-size” and the word “mouthfeel,” even if they don’t know why.

TRENDFLASH: Nerf William Telling

Nerf-telling, for short. Get on this one stat! Use protective eye ware. Possibly some sun glasses that fit over other glasses.

NOW: Rescue Chickens

He was so happy, for 5-6 weeks
He was so happy, for 5-6 weeks
According to this article, which was posted to our facebook page by reader Ken Savage (thanks!), many less-committed hipters are presently abandoning their backyard, free-range, ethically-raised, cage-free, organic chickens.

But don’t fret, elite hipsters turn lemons into lemonade. Well, more accurately they turn salak into juice-salak. What’s bad news for other hipsters is awesome news for you! Tomorrow morning at the artisan coffee shop you can nail (never staple) an advertisement to the cork board: “Rescue Chickens Wanted!” Leave your name and contact information. You could ask them to send a telegraph, in the event that you’re no-phoning and wait for them to flock (ha) to you with beautiful, attention-grabbing birds. Many of them will no longer lay eggs and about 37% will be roosters, but no matter, you’re not in this for the eggs … you’re in this for the cause! Once you’ve set up your rooftop coop along side your roof cow, you’ll be able talk at length how disgusted you are that some people just bought a bunch of chickens because it was a fad, and when it became slightly difficult they just gave up on their birds.

As for those of you who are abandoning the birds … why is it that the popularity of urban poultry farming is dwindling? It’s the poop right? poop. But there are other factors such as noise, smell, work, and a steadily amassing hatred for those stupid bastard birds.

Poised: Cowboy Baths

troughWhat’s that? You’re still taking showers? Still immersing yourself in that Victorian clawfoot surrounded by homemade beeswax candles? Hipster, please. If you want to experience some old-school authentic hygiene, it all starts with a horse trough.

Drag one of these bad boys up onto the rooftop. Fill it with equal parts cold water and boiling water. Strip down, climb in, light up a Swisher Sweet and just soak. Feel that? That is prairie luxury, my friend.

Do you want a swig of Black Velvet to help you relax? You don’t mind if you do. Need to rinse off? Have Edie grab that bucket over by the DJ station. No, not the one we use as an ashtray — the other one. There you go.

Now gaze off at the horizon. Take it all in. You are the Shane of this afterbar. It’s almost time to ride.

Always Up: DIY Coffee.

She is repulsed and attracted to the red socks

Keffe, kaffe, java, mud. Joe. Crank case oil.

Face it, coffee will always be hip, unless you’re Mormon, even hip Mormons don’t drink coffee.

While we are still recovering from the whole Starbucks craze, smaller and more specialized shops are beginning to take their place on the thoroughfares and in the empty storefronts of emerging Americana, selling Americanos…and it’s become such a trend that even Starbucks has taken notice, even adding a “blonde” roast to their line of homogenous offerings along with Alanis Morissette retrospective CDs and stale finger like pastries.

These little hipster start ups are being run by a fairly eclectic cross section of proprietors. Some have been in the industry for a while, and some just got the itch to try something new, and are slowly changing the face of American coffee…gone are blends with silly names. Now it’s single origins from countries you’d never expect with estate names you can’t possibly hope to pronounce like Rösterei Demmel in Liechtenstein.

A more recent trend, borne out of the “third wave” movement could be considered the “fourth wave,” or the practice of growing your own coffee trees, harvesting, and ultimately roasting your own beans after they’ve been gently massaged through the alimentary canal of your pet cat. This is of course after you’ve caught on to the newly trending open concept kitchen pico-farm…you’ll be on the absolute cutting edge of hipness by owning your own teenser plantation. Make sure to honor the folk traditions of the miniscule share crop artisans you have working for you by wearing the tiny hats and scarves of their people. To insure their loyalty, threaten their livelihood by warning them they could be working on a baby corn farm instead. For an added element of cool, try roasting your coffee one bean at a time in your own steampunk inspired nano-roaster and serving it to your hipster friends in a doll house coffee service. In between stunning them with your grasp of bean-lore you can tell them the tiny cups and saucers are for their own good because this cat crap coffee is so strong it’ll take paint off a car hood (call it a “bonnet” for the hipster “cup” de grâce.)