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How Much I Love Daniel

“I could really use a beer right now,” says Daniel. I’ve heard this many times during our food challenge year, often after tough day at a program. Our rule is that we can’t have homebrew unless the brewer hand-harvested the grain. So even well-meaning brewer friends have been stumped on how to get us beer.

Saskia to the rescue—or at least, she provided a quart of barley seeds gleaned from a field on Lopez Island. With their tough hulls, these seeds are a pain to eat. But they are brewable. They were kind of gray and washed out—not the best quality for malting, but they were what we had and I am not going to look a gift barley in the hull.

I soaked the seeds, then rinsed them twice a day until the sprouts had grown as long as the brewing books said they should be. Into the dehydrator they went, to dry and kill the little plantlet—I hate that part—but to retain the enzymes and sugars that will hopefully brew beer.

“This book is terrible,” I said, slamming the cover shut on Sustainable Home Brewing. Mystified by the jargon, I just soaked the barley in hot water with some apples for added sugar, then steeped some old hops from our vines. I put a dollop of raw honey in once the tea was warm. The liquid doesn’t quite fill a gallon jug. This small quantity will be shame if it tastes great, but a boon if it’s terrible. As with so many things, time will tell.

November 28 beer update: I bottled the beer today, putting it in sturdy swing-top bottles with a spoonful of sterilized honey per bottle. A mere four bottles, it’s more than we had before, and should be ready in time for Christmas. We drank the yeasty dregs. They were delicious, like beer gravy. I don’t officially know the alcohol content, but I had to cut myself off after about two tablespoons.

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