You’ll Always Remember Your First Time

May found us once again with a first-time meeting host. “Hosts”, actually, since both Robert and Barbara Rickman are brewers and club members. (Their son, Brian, also joined the group a day or so after the meeting.) After bouncing from rental to rental over the past few years, none of which were large enough, the Rickmans have recently bought a lovely home in Naugatuck with lots of space for hosting YAHOOS meetings. Hence their first ever hosting.

More than half of our recent hosts have been first-timers and all of them have done a superb job. The Rickmans were no different. Excellent food (especially the homemade flax seed crackers — see recipe below) and homebrew in a lovely setting.

We YAHOOS, unfortunately, were not the perfect guests. There was an incident with an overly exuberant bottle of French cider which may have left a scar on the kitchen ceiling. I feel guilty. I brought that bottle of cider. I will say in my defense that it was cold when I brought it and may have been better behaved if it had stayed that way. I hope I am not under lifetime ban at the Rickman estate.

The theme was “Cider” and many club members brought their personal variations on the Beardsley juice theme. I am always amazed by the differences in the end-products when starting with the same ingredients. Some brewers add sugars, some add yeasts, some add other fruits. The results can fall into any BJCP cider category. We are a creative bunch.

Tasting notes may be found below. I hope I remembered the cider sub-score breakdown properly. If not, please forgive me.

But first, the cracker recipe. Barbara spins her own fibers and this recipe comes from one of the reference books she uses. But, like all good homebrewers, she has made this her own in subtle ways. All I can say is, these crackers are amazing. I ate far too many, with nothing on them. Make them, even if you have to buy a pasta machine to do so.

Barbara Rickman’s Awesome Flax Seed Crackers

4 cups King Arthur flour (it works best in this recipe)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 cayenne (red) pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil (dark virgin)
3/4 cup flax seed
1 1/2 cups water
Mix dry ingredients together well.  Add water and oil and mix with dough hooks or by hand for at least 5 to 8 minutes to get the gluten in the flour activated.  Separate dough into 4 parts.  Using a hand crank pasta machine set on level 1, run pasta thru until it holds together in a solid sheet and does not lose its seeds.  Then, turn the settings one at a time until you get to setting 4.  Cut the dough the size crackers you want or score the crackers with a fork.  Line baking sheets with tin foil.  Bake them at 400 degrees until just brown around the edges..about 10 1/2 minutes.  You can also bake them  on 1 side for 7 minutes, turn them over and bake them for 5 minutes more for a browner, crispier cracker.
We use the recipe in the book doubled, except for the flax seed.  1 3/4 cup of flax seed is WAY too much!  Gets stuck in the pasta machine causing it to jam.
Barbara and Robert Rickman
Recipe taken from Alden Amos Big Book Of Handweaving, page 403


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Bridgeport Rules!

When I was a lad, back in another century entirely, Bridgeport was considered (how do we put this delicately?) not the best place to buy a house. P.T.Barnum was long gone, and the industrial manufacturing economy which had replaced him was gone as well. Nothing was left but vacant lots and empty factories.

Fast-forward to the present day and we find that this idea is completely out of date. The Bluefish are thriving, the city is reviving, and a number of YAHOOS are happily living within the city limits.

Case in point: Mara Heneks, our hostess for the April meeting.

Mara has been building what may be the most high-tech brewing system of any Underground Brewer. At our last meeting at her home, she showed us her induction heating system and glycol-chilled fermenters. She has now added a home-built, 3-tier brewing rig. Brewers like me, without any space to call our own, can only gaze admiringly at this amount of dedicated brewing equipment.

And it doesn’t go to waste. There is never any shortage of great homebrew at Mara’s place. Most of it wild and/or sour. All of it delicious. Complemented by a generous spread of tasty munchies, this made for another excellent club meeting.

The rest of the YAHOOS brought their own high-quality brews to be judged. Except for me. I brought a tripel so bad that the rest of the batch had to be dumped. I had hoped for some advice on how to avoid the off-flavors next time, but apparently I stumped the experts. Never underestimate an Underground Brewer — even our fails are epic.

Tasting notes:

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