Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It's Not So Bad?

Homemade beer changes over time.  I have discussed this numerous times, but I have never learned the lesson well enough.  Beers need at least two weeks to carbonate fully, and then a few more weeks to age.  What is happening is that the yeast is cleaning up the beer, consuming what little oxygen is left and other byproducts left over from their first go around.  In general, the bigger the beer (the more gravity, alcohol, and/or body), the longer it needs to hit its peak.  The sad unfortunate fact is that most of my beer is consumed by me before it hits its peak.  Of course, the inverse is true as well.  The lighter the beer, the quicker it hits its peak, and the quicker it declines.  I have had only one beer atrophy disaster.  Last year's blonde ale went way bad.  Actually the yeast autolyzes, or dies and the cell is consumed by its own enzymes.  This produces a considerable stink and taste (like rubber and sulfur....or some people I have traveled half way across the country with).

This leads me back to our watermelon wheat beer.  I tasted it today, and it is more watermelon flavored and less vegetablely (not a word, but fitting) smelling and tasting.  More like watermelon and less like its rind.  This is a good thing, but it still doesn't do much for me...so I continue to poo-poo this beer.  My brother reports that some guys on his hockey team love it.  They LOVE IT!  They have offered to trade commercially produced beer for it.  I believe that this is one hell of a compliment.  It is beyond the "I would buy this" and is more like "How can I buy this?" Or "I want to buy this!"  This is a beer that at someone would go out of their way for.  I just had a similar proposition from a friend that tasted our Scottish Ale.

I am uncertain as to the legality of bartering home made beer.  Home brewing legislation varies from state to state, but all states as well as the federal government restrict its sale.  Technically, you can only brew a fixed amount of beer per year.  I seem to remember it was 100 gallons per person of drinking age, to a maximum of 200 gallons (6.45 bbl).  In my case, legally, I can make almost 17 twelve gallon batches at my premises for my personal use.  I am not going to bump up against that regulation any time soon.  I would have to consume approximately 38 beers a week to need that much.  I don't even have that many friends.  The bartering is less clear.  In my opinion, to exchange home brew for other goods and services would be equivalent to it having a monetary value, and could constitute a sale (which then would need to be taxed and illegal without licensure).  Some states restrict the transport of home brew (WA), restrict the serving of homebrew (making competitions or home brew clubs illegal) (OR), and god forbid, some states outlaw it altogether (AL, MS, OK and until recently UT).  Luckily, Colorado isn't one of them.  Trading something for its equivalent could be considered not a sale, however, if you trade a Corvette for an equivalently priced Porsche you would still have to pay the taxes on the cash value to the Colorado State DMV.  So, I am willing to bet that trading untaxed beer for taxed beer is still considered a no-no.  However, if you were to come over with a six pack of your own and mistakenly leave with a different six pack....an honest mistake.

I am not super excited to trade for beer anyway.  I can already make whatever I want.

But, maybe, just maybe we are onto something.  So, maybe we can formulate recipes and brew serious beer of different styles.  Maybe some of our beers are actually worth drinking....and maybe my taste in beer is not out of whack with the beer drinking world.  I need to have some of my friends that roll with the light beers taste this stuff to see what they think of this fruited beer.  Either way, if I am wrong, I can blame it on the beer.

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