In the true Irish spirit, I didn’t really celebrate St. Patrick’s day on Monday. Or, at least, I didn’t celebrate it in the wearing-green-and-getting-wasted sense. Instead I brewed some beer, baked Irish brown bread, and made a brussel sprout salad. That seems festive enough, right?

We haven’t brewed beer in ages. When we got to Brewcraft on Sunday, we realized we hadn’t been in since the inimitable Griz passed away in September. We not only got to say hi to the folks that work there and admire Griz’s portrait in the shop (and his scooter wheelchair still parked in the corner), but we picked up ingredients for three different brews – a pale ale, an IPA, and an American wheat.

First up was the hoppy lawnmower ale, similar to the one that the SF Brewers Guild did in honor of Griz for Beer Week. It’s a single-hop beer with lots of Mosaic hops, which will be interesting. My dad can identify hops in beers, particularly with distinctive ones like Cascade. I have nowhere near that kind of palate, but maybe this will help. Upon getting the gear ready for the brew, we discovered two secondary fermenters full of beer that had been sitting in the pantry for months. We kegged ‘em and sampled ’em – not delicious, but drinkable. The beauty of beer is that it doesn’t go bad, it just becomes Belgian.

When we travel to Ireland, I generally sit in the back of the rental car and shove as much brown bread into my face as I can. It crumbles delightfully in its plastic bakery wrapper, and so I pick up the crumbs, never feeling like I’m eating too much. Until I’m miserably full of starch, that is. If it makes it into the house, it gets sliced and put in the toaster, then smeared with lots of creamy Irish butter. And then I go home to the States and mourn my loss.

But no longer! I now know how to make brown bread, and it’s easy peasy. Maybe a little too easy, given that it is a carb with butter mixed in. The recipe needs a little more salt, I think, and maybe some brown sugar. I also didn’t have the wheat germ, which seems like a key ingredient. Improvements for next time. As it stands, though, I’m happy with my beautiful loaf, and will be even happier when I’m able to toast it and drown it in butter.

So I think I held up my end of the Irish citizen bargain, though maybe I should have taken out my Irish passport, with its lovely harp on the front, and brought it on a tour through my neighborhood bars. I’m sure they weren’t a pretty sight on Monday, but it should know what its up against.

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