Thursday, November 20, 2008

Here's to the Ladies

As a homebrewer I'm always in search of interesting and eclectic beer types. I'm highly partial to Belgian ales (and made a kick ass doppleganger of Delirium Tremens), but I'll experiment with almost any style. I was in search of a beer to make for our upcoming Baby Boy Baptism Booze-fest in Dec, when I stumbled across an interesting recipe in one of my books.

Ever heard of a "groaning ale?"

I certainly hadn't. Turns out, it's a practice that dates back to colonial America. Here's the description from my book:

"In England and colonial America, a 'groaning ale' was prepared by an expectant mother as soon as she learned of her pregnancy. Using only the finest ingredients, a high-gravity ale was brewed and conditioned for seven to nine months. When labor began, the midwives would tap the cask and share the special ale with the mother, to help them through the ordeal. Legend has it that the newborn would be bathed in the beer, since it was purer than the available water."

Who needs an f'n epidural?

And how cool are those colonial women -- this country's original homebrewers!

I have this image of the father filling his pewter mug from the cask and hanging back catching a buzz while the mother is doing her thing. If there was any justice, the midwife would have told him to pound sand and saved the luscious brew for the mother.

The par-tay is in late Dec, so I don't have 7-9 months to age the beer. But, I modified the recipe slightly and brewed it a couple weeks ago. Hopefully, it'll be ready in time for the party. By my estimation, this will likely be a 10% alcohol brew (most beers are in the 5-6% range). Here's a picture of it as it continues to ferment:

The golden color is from the light malt, honey (3 lbs!), and brown sugar.

Keep your fingers crossed, and your palates ready.

- Rich


Marya said...

Looks really yummy! The double major in history and feminist studies in me loves the story! Thanks.

The Lowe said...

Not so long ago, women in a Dublin hospital used to get a bottle of Guinness after giving birth. For the iron of course.

Rachel et Natalie said...

Don't know if Sibley will let you bring it to the surgery unit.
I love the story, tks
ps. I agree with you about the Belgian beer