Near record-breaking warm temperatures teased our magnolia into an early bloom.  Yesterday I considered taking a picture of the pretty pink blossoms, but didn’t.  Subfreezing temperatures last night have foreclosed my opportunity.  After just a few days enjoying the pink blossoms, most are now brown.

Not the end of the world.  Blooms come, then go.  It does make me think of apple growers, though.  I understand local apple trees were blooming, too.  The overnight loss of apple blossoms means a reduced harvest this fall.  One grower estimated a fifty percent yield reduction.  Why only fifty percent?  Must be the case that some flowers were still closed or new ones will form.  A reduced harvest means higher apple prices (unless bumper crops happen elsewhere).  Even so, I doubt prices can be doubled to make up for the loss.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the single night of subfreezing temps will prevent one or more orchards from timely paying mortgages.  The orchards and trees will remain, but banks may be looking for new owners.

Frida is happy, anyway.  She slows down by fifty percent when the temps exceed seventy-five degrees.  A walk in thirty-one degree air had her moving at speeds appropriate to a dog half her age.  Me?  The rapid cooling leaves me shivering.  My body decided the warmth was here and durable and stopped generating heat.  My long johns and stocking cap are on again and help some.  A dinner of black bean burritos, roasted potatoes and Brooklyn Brown Ale help more.  Here are the victims of my thirst on Thursday, Sunday and Monday.

Brooklyn Brown Ale, as my current favorite, deserves more than a passing mention (5.6% ABV and 30 IBUs).  When I pay attention to numbers, low alcohol is appreciated and middle of the road IBUs very often makes me happiest.  IBUs?  I’ve mentioned them before, but it probably bears repeating–IBUs are International Bitterness Units.  Hops introduce bitterness.  This chart shows typical IBUs for various styles of beer and may help you understand why you gravitate toward certain beer styles.  If you think you don’t like beer at all, it could just be the hop induced bitterness.  Pick a style with a low IBU and try again.  On the other hand, some people crave the bitterness.  Better have another pint, any pint, in the name of research.

Although I am at present preferring beers in the neighborhood of 30 IBUs (like Brooklyn Brown Ale), I can appreciate beers at each extreme of the IBU scale.  I’ve really enjoyed barleywines lately, and am surprised to learn American barleywines can range from a not unreasonable IBU of 50 to a chart busting max of 120.  That’s quite a spread and points out the benefit of relying less on generalized charts, and more on taste.   That, or if you enjoy research, try to find the IBUs for the particular beer you are considering.

The barleywine I’ve enjoyed most is Druid Fluid from the Middle Ages Brewing Company.  The maker doesn’t list IBUs, but their description offers a few clues.  First, they describe it as “made in the tradition of British Farmhouse Brewing.”  On our chart, then, we should probably move from the American barleywine category to English barleywine.  Now we are looking at IBUs ranging from a much more reasonable 35 to 70.  Second, the maker goes on to say that the beer is very hoppy when young and that the malts predominate as it matures.  The pints I’ve had must have had some maturity, then, because I recall big fruity malty goodness.  Must be that hop oils are volatile.  That sounds awfully familiar.  Maybe one of my brewing friends told me that.  Enough.  It is not even noon and all this beer research is making me thirsty.  Five hours to go.

Update:  I now read that IBUs won’t necessarily let you know how bitter a beer will taste.  The bitterness of beers with the same IBUs can vary greatly.  While I thought IBUs measured perceived bitterness, the test is really just a measure of isomerized α acids from the hops.  Adding more malt will reduce perceived bitterness but not change the IBU.  Read about it here.

Write to you soon.


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