Wild Winter

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Wild Winter is an 8.1% imperial porter.

Back in the spring I brewed a beer specially for the Wildlife Trust of Birmingham & Black Country. They got 100% of the profits for the beer, which was a Belgian blonde ale called Spring Calling. It was a beautiful strong beer brewed with chrysanthemum flowers. There are still a few bottles of it here and there. If you see it, don’t hesitate to buy one because the strength of the beer should make it keep for a very long time, perhaps years.

When the Trust approached me again about doing another benefit beer for them, I was eager to join forces with them again. This time I decided to make a porter in time for yule. I actually prefer Baltic porters more than any other but, being a stickler for details when it comes to classification, I’m calling this beer an imperial porter because it lacks being fermented by a lager yeast or undergoing cold conditioning – either a prerequisite for Baltic porter status.

So, like a Baltic porter, this beer is fairly light bodied and very smooth. It lacks those strong roasty or burnt flavors you often get in other porters, and it’s not strongly hopped, either. It’s got a sweet, malty flavor with some fruity and chocolate characteristics.

I’m very pleased with how Wild Winter turned out. This is my favorite Sacre Brew beer of the season.

Birmingham artist Peter Tinkler illustrated the label for Wild Winter. He used Odin’s crows, Huginn (thought) and Muninn (memory), to feature one of the species that can be locally found in the winter, and gnarled, dormant tree branches in the background to represent the starkness of the season.

wildwinter label




I will donate 50% of the profits of this beer to the Wildlife Trust.

Blood-Lust of Ocipio

posted in: art, brews, inspiration | 0

Blood-Lust of Ocipio is a double IPA checking in at 9.1%. You can’t taste the alcohol, though.

Earlier this year, I entered a Twitter competition and won 20 kg of Vic Secret hop pellets from Simply Hops. Because of the design of my brew kettle, I use whole hops, so pellets are mainly reserved for dry hopping.

I was unfamiliar with this new hop variety and none of my brewing buddies were, either, so I did a little research online. My conclusions were that this hop isn’t really good for much except dry hopping. Added to boiling or even hot wort, it loses all its aroma. So dry hopping it is.

But I didn’t want to brew another IPA. I have one – Wendigo – and it’s a good one. How about a double IPA? A few people had requested that I brew a double IPA and I thought it was high time. Like my IPA, I wanted the DIPA to be intensely aromatic and light bodied, so as not to compete with the hop aromas. No excessive use of crystal malts or darker-kilned malts. Light and fruity.

So here it is: Blood-Lust of Ocipio.

Originally it was going to be called Hopfendämmerung – “twilight of the hops” in German – but a few things happened.

The beer I was originally going to call Blood-Lust of Ocipio didn’t turn out that great. Well, it was actually great for about a week and then it started to develop off flavors. It got some wild yeast in it. So I had to pull the beer.

In the meantime, Birmingham artist Peter Tinkler was nearly done with an illustration for Blood-Lust of Ocipio label. I wasn’t going to not use it, so I applied the artwork to this beer instead. My friend Dennis suggested making a hoppy beer and calling it Hopfendämmerung and even sent me a link to an appropriate, free-use image for the label. But Peter’s artwork is way better – check out his work online.

Bloodlust label


So where does the name of the beer – Blood-Lust of Ocipio – come from?

That’s a long story.

I attended Hamilton College (which is a university) in central New York state. I spent most of my last two years there recording “spontaneous” music with my friends. We’d plug in instruments and microphones in to my portable 4-track, press record, and see what would happen. I have to say, it really honed my improvisational skills. We called ourselves DAGS, which contained the initials of the core “members.” DAGS went beyond Dave, Anne, Gwen, and Stephen, though, and we welcomed anyone who was willing to create music with us. Most of it was sort of terrible but we enjoyed the exercise immensely, including listening back to it while drinking coffee. We’d wait for those special moments when it sounded great for a second before collapsing back into chaos.

This went on for years, even after we’d all graduated. Over time, we got better at listening to each other and anticipating changes. At some point, we got into the habit of starting a session by passing around clipboards of paper so we could write some poems in round-robin, stream-of-consciousness fashion. Each person would scribble a few lines and pass it on to the next person. Those would be the lyrics for our songs. One of them was titled Blood-Lust of Ocipio. I can still picture the title at the top of the page, scribbled in Ken’s dinstinctive handwriting.

I found the lyrics on one of my old hard drives. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), the audio file cannot be found.


Blood-Lust of Ocipio

Oh blackest night, why come do you?
You quote me, nit for nat
My idle days extend your pace
As you divulge the sacred facts.
Distilled and craven sullenest one
The mocker of the factory seduction
It extends to ends past boundaries
Unseer, say to me the dullest fact
Oven nix, inflict the heat
Burn the sovereign, burn the tart
My homeless one, where do you run?
Methinks you flee a cancer
If bunny tails are sedatives
Can we belong to crackers?
The rocking chair is here no more
I think it fell apart
Perhaps the local glee club sluts
Have robbed us of our hearth
Dismember me before I sail
The arch node remedies miscost dimes
Resist the hunger pangs of wealth
Supporting ebon fangs.

Lyrics by Ken and Gwen