Mazing, Brewing, Renaming a Beer

Wednesday, I’ll be brewing a semi-familiar beer, my On a Jag Abbey Dubbel… except, I’m gonna get the volume right this time, damn it, and it will be a Dubbel, ie. maybe 6-7% alcohol. And, well, I’m going to use the Belgian Abbey I yeast (a little more estery), instead of Belgian Abbey II (not so estery). At least, that’s the plan, though I’ll be honest: I’ve mixed up my yeasts and I’m just going by what condition they’re in, now. (The smaller sample in rougher condition in my fridge is Belgian Abbey II, and the bigger sample in the communal fridge is Belgian Abbey I.) I have bought some labels, because this is just silly.

I am happy to report that my Belgian Pale Ale has carbonated nicely, so nicely in fact that Miss Jiwaku declared it more enjoyable than Alley Kat Pale Ale during out trip to the Wolfound Pub on Monday night.

I’m thinking of renaming it Wonmisan Hwarang BPA. The name “Hwarang” translates as “Flower Boys” or “Flower Knights” or whatever you might like, and all that’s really clear, from what I know, is that they were some sort of elite organization back in the Shilla Dynasty, for males, possibly for young males, and that they had a special place in the Shilla Kingdom. Who knows, but it’s possible Hwa (花) is not flower, but rather “bloom”, suggesting that the young men in the organization were chosen in the bloom of youth, or were the most fully blossoming talents around, or some metaphorical meaning like that. But it’s common for foreigners in Korea speaking in English to derisively refer to the Hwarang as things like “pretty flower boys” in the same way that they imply the 꽃미남 (Lovely Flower Men) who are in vogue now here (see here) as being “gay” or “girly” or whatever. Hell, even I dislike the 꽃미남 trend, to be honest.

And there may even be room for paralleling the Hwarang to the 꽃미남, as this website suggests:

From Samguk Sagi 4:40, Translation: Peter H. Lee: Sourcebook of Korean Civilization, vol.I, Columbia University Press, New York, 1993. p.101-102.
“The Wonhwa (Original Flowers) was first presented at court (the first ) in the thirty-seventh year (576) of King Chinhúng. (The Haedong Kosúng Chón says “the Wónhwa was first chosen as Sóllang”, Lee, Peter H.: The Lives of Eminent Korean Monks, The Haedong Kosúng Chón, p.66)

At first the King and his officials were perplexed by the problem of finding a way to discover the talented people. They wished to have people disport themselves in groups so that they could observe their behavior and thus elevate the talented among them to positions of service.

Therefore two beautiful girls, Nammo and Chunjóng were selected, and a group of some three hundred people gathered around them. But the two girls competed with each other. In the end, Chunjóng enticed Nammo to her home and, plying her with wine till she was drunk, threw her into a river. Chunjóng was put to death. The group became discordant and dispersed.

Afterwards, handsome youths were chosen instead. Faces made up and beautifully dressed, they were respected as Hwarang, and men of various sorts gathered around them like clouds.

The youths instructed one another in the Way and in righteousness, entertained one another with songs and music, or went sightseeing to even the most distant mountains and rivers. Much can be learned of a man’s character by watching him in these activities. Those who fared well were recommended to the court. , in his Hwarang Segi (Annals of the Hwarang), remarks: “Henceforth able ministers and loyal subjects are chosen from them, and good generals and brave soldiers are born therefrom.”

Ling-hu Ch’eng of T’ang, moreover, in the Hsing-lo kuo-chi (Record of Silla), states that “The Hwarang were chosen from the handsome sons of the nobles and their faces were made up, and they were dressed up. They were called Hwarang, and were respected and served by their countrymen.

Yep, the Rose Knights had their faces made up, and were dressed up, and had to be handsome, and learned to sing and entertain and the best of ’em were chosen for the court.

But before you laugh too hard at the name Hwarang, remember Der Rosenkavalier (The Knight of the Rose) is not a bizarre anomaly in European culture. Martial men have–across Eurasia, at least, and across a lot of the last few thousand years–often received official training in things like music, dance, poetry, etiquette, and so on. There were, of course, knights who were much closer to a kind of professional human butcher, but lots of the knights of old were not so different from these hwarang, as they’re presented in various descriptions like the above. (Not that I necessarily credit the above. Who knows how good the translation is.)

Honestly, I tend to suspect the Hwarangs were more likely deployed to command peasants in battle than to engage in heroics themselves, just as most European knights who managed to be armored in full plate were not jumping off the horse for sword play, since depending on the time and place, they could barely move in that armor.

I like the name Hwarang, though, since it suggests flowers possessed of a kind of martial aggressivity. The thing about the BPA is that it has a very aggressive hop aroma and flavor, but not much hop bitterness (which, I have to say, is how I like it). Aggressiveness in hops is interesting, since hops are also flowers. So I think Hwarang might be a suitable name for the beer after all.

Moving on to another beer, I suspect the Abbey Wheat has also carbed up nicely by now, too, though we’ll be trying those on Wednesday night (tomorrow) along with some of the sauerkraut that I imagine will be left over when I transfer the majority of it to its new fermentation vessel, about which I’ll write more on Wednesday. I figure there will be some left when I make the transfer, since the new vessel (which I’ll be jury-rigging myself) will have slightly less space for the cabbage than the current vessel. It’s nicely crunchy at the moment, and a little bit pickled–or so it was on Saturday, from the little bit I tried when trying to crush back the cabbage that had begun to float up in the brine, but of course it has quite a way to go before it’ll be proper sauerkraut. I’ll update more after we try some of it Wednesday night–it’ll be a week into the fermentation process at that point.

I’ll also be mazing for the second time on Wednesday, but it’ll be the first time in earnest. (While the JAO mead I did earlier this year turned out sort of okay, that’s definitely not because of any attentiveness on my part.) Mazing is the fancy-dancy word for “making mead” and I’ve decided I waited far too long, so it’s time to give it a try. If I have something vaguely drinkable by March, I’ll be happy, and I’ll search for someplace to store the bottles so I can get ’em a year later and see how they turn out. I haven’t really got a recipe for mead, but I have been fiddling with the Mead Calculator at GotMead.com. I’m thinking about a blend of clover honey and acacia honey, and hoping I can get some bokbunja (Korean black raspberries) into the fermenter in secondary fermentation, where they’ll add a bokbunja flavor. I’m also very vaguely considering making this a metheglin-styled melomel–a spiced fruit mead. Still thinking about which spices would go with black raspberry.

Ah, last thing, since I started this post last night, but am finishing it up this morning: the Dubbel that I reyeasted and added some sugar to seemed to get a little carbonation last night, so I moved it off the warm floor and will let it sit till Friday night in my (cooler) living room. Then a few will go into the fridge, and I’ll test one out before sleeping. Here’s hoping it turns out well!

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