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Musings on home brewing and sauna

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Please welcome Steve, who shares his musings on home brewing and sauna. The guest post series continues:

The snow crunches under my boots as I make my way to the woodshed to select fuel for the sauna stove. The dry birch is stacked and awaiting the careful scrutiny of what pieces will be right for this evening. It’s cold, -25, so we’ll need some good robust pieces on the bottom end to maintain a steady source to warm it up. Smaller 2” pieces to maintain and regulate the desired temp once achieved. Oh, and of course some bark and kindling to get us rolling.

With supplies in hand I open the door to the change room and light the old gas lantern. As I open the hot room, I am met with the earthy smell of the cedar, which fills my senses. I lay the wood in the stove and and strike the match. As the fire comes to life, I feel the satisfaction that manifests from old ways, tradition and the comfort of what’s to come.

Steve's backyard sauna between home brew
Steve’s backyard sauna between home brews

Opening up the wood doors to the beer cabinet, I select the grains for the beer to be brewed. Some pale malt for the base, a little Caramel Crystal for colour and some Carapils Briess to help with head retention. I get the strike water heating up, grind the grains and weigh out the hop additions. The rich, dank , citrus smell of the hops fills the the senses and brings memories of warm harvest days. A Citra Pale Ale is on the agenda today. With the water at the right temp, I stir in the grain bill. I feel the satisfaction that manifests from old ways, tradition and the comfort of what’s to come.

Settled onto the bench and with the heat soaking in, the conversation in the soft light of the lantern’s low flame is easy and relaxed. The anticipation slowly builds waiting for just the right time. The right lämpömassa and then the ladle dips into the bucket. All becomes righteous. At last the löyly embraces us. All conversation stops as the reverence of what’s to come blesses the followers.

The mash is just right and as the wort drains from the basket of grain. I pour an ice cold brew from the last session in anticipation of the boil and just the right time to add some hops. With a rolling boil I sprinkle in one of a number of timed hop additions, have a sip of my beer and reflect upon the reverence of what’s to come to bless the followers.

Stepping outside we drink in the cold air and grin unabashedly as we stand steaming under a canopy of stars. Beers, with just a hint of ice on the top, are gratefully accepted as laughter and the feelings of love, joy and energy emanate out into the surrounding forest. The heat and extremes of the hot room are quickly forgotten as the life giving cool refreshment takes hold. And we rejoice in the goodness of what we can craft through the old ways and traditions.

With the final hops added into the boiling concoction, the immersion chiller is submerged. And so begins the the life giving cool down for nothing can live for long in such hot conditions. Good beer is alive. As I prepare the fermenter to accept the cool ale and yeast for the next phase of the magic, I sip my beer and rejoice in the goodness of what we can craft through the old ways and traditions.

Musings on home brew and sauna
This is one of the last Citra Pale Ale’s from Steve’s keg. The outdoor temperature when this photo was taken was -25°f.
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