This is the time of year when civilized people drink dark beer. It‘s the time of year when bitter and oily and chocolatey and roasty and oaky and rich and full–bodied beers become my best friends again. So pour yourself a cup of coffee and settle in.
Whether you drink a stout or a porter or a doppelbock, whether you drink it black or with a caramel–colored head, this is about being dark and dumb and happy—which is pretty much the same thing anyway. I had a plan for this article.
I‘d written it up in my head about two weeks ago. I‘d talk about how this is a time for reflection and how the winter solstice reminds us that we‘re not separated from nature, that we‘re all creatures of the natural world. I‘d write about how Yule and the winter solstice celebrate the return of the light, though each year it‘s a little less than it was the year before, while the days start getting a little longer. My winter–solstice article was going to be all about how society‘s obsession with youth and beauty and conformity is an illusion, and that if we can find the beauty in our advancing years, in the differences between us, then perhaps we can grasp that we‘re all part of a continuum, that the coming and going of light is a constant and the difference between “old“ and “new“ is an illusion. I was going to cite a bunch of examples in history of customs and legends and stories from pagan religions that demonstrate that today is a day of reflection, a day when we can transcend petty differences and celebrate the cycles of nature. I was going to write about how life is all about ebbs and flows, about death and birth, and how winter is just a part of the process. I was going to write about how there is more dark than light in our lives, more sadness and pain than joy—and yet we still celebrate the cosmos with our rituals, even as we celebrate the life–giving gifts of the solstice. Although I am writing about all those things. Just not in this post.
My intention today is not to talk about the spiritual reasons why we‘re celebrating. Instead I‘m going to write about beer, and why we‘re drinking dark beer in the winter. It‘s a tale as old as time. More specifically, it‘s a tale as old as Bavaria. I‘ll admit, my first stint on the internet was as a lurker on homebrewing forums. I didn‘t make anything for about two years, but I was always interested. That‘s how I ended up in the homebrewing forums of the late 90s, which were the incubators of the craft beer revolution that was brewing at the same time. Even way back then, before I was really involved with beer, I loved reading about the seasonal ales that people would brew for Christmas. One American homebrewer claimed that he‘d brewed up a Christmas beer every year since 1978. For a long time, I thought he had to be exaggerating. But this year I realized that it‘s actually true. It‘s been twenty years since I started brewing beer, and I‘ve never made a Christmas beer before.
I was inspired by those old timers, those pioneers. I got a little push from Dogfish Head, who came out with their dark, weird, wonderful Festina Lente earlier this month. So I decided that it was time to get in the spirit of Solstice and celebrate the coming of winter with a seasonal brew. I brewed a dark lager, even though I‘m not particularly fond of dark lagers. I wanted to do something a little different, since I haven‘t done a single–hop beer in a while. I wanted to try using some of the newer hops that are out there, and HBC342 has been my favorite for a few years now. One of my goals for 2011 was to use some of the newer spring–forward American hops, so I figured this was as good a time as any to give it a try.
Meanwhile, we went out for a brief, snowy schlitter through the neighborhood with our friends Patrick and Katie from down the street. They‘re big skiers, so they get excited when there‘s even a little bit of snow on the ground—which is pretty much all the time these days. We took a leak in the snow and then downed a couple of beers, kegged some beer, and barbecued some beef for dinner. For the first time in months we turned on our wood stove after a hard day‘s work, and we let ourselves get a little giddy over the coming of winter.
I have never been able to get excited about the winter solstice. I‘ve never given it much thought as a religious holiday, or recoiled at its pagan roots, or espoused its deep spiritual meaning. It‘s just a holiday to me. Like Arbor Day and Memorial Day and Independence Day. I certainly don‘t have any qualms about drinking dark beer on the solstice—and in fact it‘s probably the best time to drink a dark beer. I started brewing beer because dark beer is delicious. I started brewing beer because I wanted to learn how to use my senses to enjoy beer even more.
I started brewing beer because I wanted to be able to drink beer all year long. That‘s why I started brewing beer. And that‘s why I make dark beer now. It‘s dark out, so it‘s dark beer o‘clock. Cheers!
This post was entirely generated (except the title) via OpenAI’s GPT-3 with a prompt ot talk about dark beer on the Winter Solstice. Botty did the rest. Enjoy.