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Charlatans and Wheat Beer

No, no, this is not a rant about Charlatans. During a Youtube music swap session on chat, I ran across a track by The Charlatans which I came to know in a strange way: my mom bought the cassette tape at a garage sale and gave it to me.

I basically responded with, “Huh?” The cover featured an image of a bunch of bananas. It said “Charlatans UK” — the “UK” was because some band in the States had the same name, or so someone told me years later when I was working in a music store.

“I bought it at a garage sale. Try it. Who knows, maybe it’s good?” She said something like that, thought not those exact words.

So I tried it, expecting it to suck. And given my tastes at the time — John Coltrane and Cecil Taylor and Ornette Coleman and Miles Davis dominated — I’m surprised that’s not what I declared immediately.

But I liked it. It was cool. This very song was on the album, and it’s a great example of the coolness evident throughout the album:

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Score one for Mum.

Years later, a friend of mine named Grace Yip — a piano major I hung out with back in my music student days — confessed to liking the band, too, and gave me a tape of some other songs I’d never heard before. But none of them rocked as much as the stuff on that album, Between 10th and 11th.

Well, not till I went back and checked them out again years later, after running across a Korean band who really reminded me of them, the inimitable Deli Spice.

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(This track is one of the better ones on Youtube, but not the best representative of why one band reminded me of the other. I also wish they hadn’t put all the talky clips from that film that featured the tune on the soundtrack — it’s always unnecessary and annoying to hear people blab over good music unless it’s part of the music.)

Oh, though sometimes, Deli Spice also reminded me of a cheerful, Korean version of The Cure. Or some other things. Anyway.

As for the wheat beer, well, it seemed to have stopped fermenting altogether sometime last night (that is, Thursday night) which worried me since, after all, it only started sometime on Wednesday afternoon or evening. It had been going at a right pace, but maybe because I left the bucket in my living room, on the floor, with the window shut (since it’s cold outside) I woke to find fermentation had slowed to nearly nothing or stopped altogether. When I tasted it, I must admit, it was not very sweet. It also didn’t taste like there was all that much alcohol in it, but maybe the dullness of non-conditioned beer flavor just distracted me: I could taste alcohol, but not very strongly.

After a little research, I figured, well, since I was planning to move the beer into secondary fermentation, I may as well just move it from the bucket to the carboy today, eliminating from the equation all of that the taste-corrupting sludge from the bottom of the bucket as well as the dark crusty remnant of the foam gathered in a dark ring around the upper limit of the wort during fermentation. Oh, and most of the small amount of dried orange peel that made it into the fermenter — I definitely wanted that out. So anyway, I just siphoned it down into the carboy, pitched a new packet of yeast — my only spare — and then sealed it up tight with an airlock.

We’ll see tomorrow whether fermentation really was over, or waiting to continue. I can say that I checked the gravity, and got 1.022, which seems reasonable for a relatively light beer — with temperature correction it’s a little higher gravity, but not considerably more. This seems weird to me, though, since I put a lot of malt extract into it. The thing that surpised me most wasn’t the layer of thick gooey sludge at the bottom, nor the weird little air bubbles in the siphon hose — how the hell does air get into the pipe like that? — but rather the darkness of the wheat beer. Coming through the siphon, its a very light golden color, which is what I expect it will look like in the end, when poured into a glass. But in the giant carboy, where the beer collected in a container a few feet across, it’s dark, rich, dark brown stuff. Well, not as dark as stout, but darker than I foolishly expected.

Tomorrow, I will be brewing a coffee stout; which is simply a stout made with some coffee, as per the note in Charlie Papazian’s book on homebrewing.

Busy weekend coming up: tons of grading, tidying, and busy work to do. Apparently the uni wants me to enter records of every student I’ve consulted in the past semester. Apparently it’s good for my reviews or something. As usual, I only found out today, and the deadline is Monday. Of course. Ah well…

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