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It’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to

We’ve got some some celebrating to do people … I hope you’re up for it! First off there’s the matter of my birthday this coming Sunday. Turns out that the Ravens have rather selfishly managed to get into the post season and have the small matter of the playoff game with New England to deal with on that day …. apparently that “top trumps” my turning 48 so I will be officially celebrating on Thursday 24th. As tradition dictates the venue will be the wonderful Metropolitan @ 6pm and of course there will be a couple of special casks. This year they will be an oak barrel of Winter’s Wolves and a pin of “Act Of Fear (Act I)”

What’s that you say … What on earth is “Act Of Fear”? Shame on you! Well, if you’re sitting comfortably, I’ll begin. It turns out that my good friends Volker Stewart and Steve Frazier of The Brewer’s Art and myself were all turning 48 within about a month of each other and Volker casually suggested that we should brew a beer to celebrate. I’m not one to turn down a fun collaboration, especially for a birthday celebration with two of the nicest people in the business that you could hope to meet and the seed was sown. We met over a beer or two at Alewife and plans were hatched. We would all pick a favorite grains/hops to use, the malt grist would be 480lbs and we would brew at both the Pratt Street Ale House (Act I) and Brewer’s Art (Act II). In case you didn’t read the previous (Friday Question) post , here are some details … Here’s what we went with … English Golden Promise malt, Crystal 85 and chocolate malt with German Vienna malt and Franco-Belge CaraVienna. We bittered with English Bramling Cross at the start of boil and at 45 minutes with a late addition of German Tettnang and whole leaf Bramling Cross in the hop back. We’re fermenting with our English Ringwood yeast and Brewer’s Art fermented with one of their strains. It’s a really exciting project, I’m really interested to see how the beer brewed at both locations will compare and contrast. Our brew systems are very different, with different efficiencies, and therefore the brews have different original gravities. We fermented in our open vessels with an English ale yeast and B.A. fermented in a closed system with a Belgian yeast, sure to introduce a whole world of difference between the beers!

We brewed our version on 12.21.12 and it is on tap now. The Brewer’s Art brewed theirs on 01.08.13 and will be on tap soon. We will of course have both versions available on tap side by side at The Pratt Street Ale House, The Ale House, Columbia and The Brewer’s Art. I haven’t tried Act II yet but I am very, very happy with Act I. By the way, for the last Friday Question I had asked why the beer was called “An Act Of Fear”? Nobody really hit the nail on the head, not surprisingly really, it’s a bit obscure. As well as the proximity of our 48th birthdays we also share a certain Teutonic background … Volker & I both have German mothers and Steve worked in Germany at one time. Tenuous I agree but you’ll see where I’m going with this …. so, when I was working up the recipe, instead of using “48” as the working name I referred to it by the German “Acht und Vierzig” and then the pronunciation struck me … “Act” & “Fear” … An Act Of Fear which sort of references us, the 48 and the fear of growing old & ones own mortality! Pretentious, possibly, but I think it’s a pretty cool name for a beer. We then added Act I & Act II to reference the separate batches from our breweries.

I hope that you will be able to join me for a pint or two.

Next up is a very special birthday indeed … January 27th will be the 20th Anniversary of the very first Oliver brew day. We will of course be celebrating by brewing “20” but that of course won’t be released until March at least. I can’t really say much about it other than it’s going to be something big, will involve as much grain as we can squeeze into the mash tun as well as a lot of Belgian Dark Candy Syrup, lots of high alpha hops and California Ale Yeast.

To celebrate the Anniversary we’ll be holding 2 “Barrel Full Of Monkeys” events, one at The Ale House, Columbia on the 27th and one at Max’s Taphouse on Tuesday 29th (6pm). We’ve been diligently barrel aging some brews, most notably Hot Monkey Love (that would be our 10% barley wine type thing) for some time now so the time is right to unleash these beasts upon the world. Here’s what we’ve got … Hot Monkey Love batch #1 aged in Heaven Hill bourbon barrel & batch #2 aged in Heaven Hill bourbon barrel (aka “My Monkey’s Gone To Heaven”) blended together. Hot Monkey Love batch #2 aged in a French oak red wine barrel (aka “J’aime mon singe et mon singe m’aime”). Hot Monkey Love batch #2 aged in a  Wild Turkey barrel (aka “My Monkey’s Gone Wild”). Winter’s Wolves aged in a French oak red wine barrel. Meridian #5 (old ale) aged in a French oak red wine barrel. Max’s Taphouse will also have an oak barrel of “My Monkey’s Got Wood” with elderflowers which will be hooked up directly to the beer engine and a keg of “Monkey Crucifixion” (a blend of “Hot Monkey Love” (batch #1) & “Sign Of The Southern Cross”) and the regular draft of Hot Monkey Love batch #1. The Ale House, Columbia will also have a keg of the draft version of Meridian #5. If that doesn’t float your boat (or maybe that should be “sink it”) I don’t know what will. I hope you’ll be able to come along and help us celebrate this landmark in our brewing history.


  1. Chris Allen says -

    Brewing ale beats biotransformations anyway Steve.

    Good to see you have recovered from fermenting indene – I havn’t! I am still growing UV4 in sunny Belfast (and working with Del-boy too – he’s still going).

    Great reading your blog and seeing you are doing so well. I learnt you were in the US from Joy – who I met last year in Copenhagen (went out and got hammered with Tim Daniel at the same time, great times).

    Happy 48th. I am 46 but still a student!

    Chris A