For the Mashed Version
Use 6 pounds of Pils malt and 6 pounds of Munich malt.
The mash procedure is one that was used to produce very full, rich-tasting beers. Mash in the malt with 122 degrees F water, let’s say 1.25 quarts per pound. Add a little (1/2 to 1 gallon) boiling water to bring the temperature up to 130-132 degrees F, and then allow the mash to rest for half an hour. At this point, drain the liquid from the mash into the kettle and boil for 15 minutes, then return to the kettle, where it should bring the mash up to 162 degrees F, which is at the high end of the mashing range. After another half hour, drain the mash normally, and run off 3 gallons of wort into the kettle and boil. Because of the small batch size and desired high gravity, we will not be sparging.
To the kettle add the cooked sugar and 1.5 ounces of Northern Brewer hops (figured as whole; use 1 ounce if pellets). We are strictly looking for bitterness here and not a lot of aroma character. Boil for an hour, then cool and pitch the sherry yeast. I recommend that you use Vierka liquid sherry yeast. If your shop doesn’t carry this obscure item, just do an Internet search and you’ll come up with a supplier. You may also use dried sherry yeasts.
Conduct the primary at room temperature, between 68 and 72 degrees F. When it settles down, rack it into another carboy, and add the following ingredients for adjustment:
–2 ounces food grade lactic acid (80 percent) or equivalent;
–Alcohol, your choice of 16 ounces of 190 proof spirits; 35 ounces of 90 proof vodka, unflavored schnapps or Irish whiskey; or 40 ounces of 80 proof of the same.
These adjustments should give the yeast conditions suitable for the sherry flor to form on the surface, which helps with the development of the nutty, pleasantly oxidized flavors we’re looking for.
At this time you can add a small handful of toasted French or Hungarian oak cubes (www.stavin.com) if you like. Move the carboy to a warm place—an attic or a furnace room, because contrary to normal practice, we’re trying to oxidatively age the wine. Aging under these conditions should take from 6 months to a year. If you want to get your acidity naturally, you can use whatever Belgian wild yeast mix that strikes your fancy instead of the lactic acid, but I would expect this would add another 6 months or more to the whole process.
After this time, your brew should be bottled without carbonation. A beer of this complexity and strength should be a candidate for long aging. Just like home-brewers and fine port, it only improves with age.