My homebrewing blog moves to HerbalBrewing.com

If you’ve stopped by within the past week, you might’ve noticed the top menu has become a bit shorter: the brewing section is gone! I decided it was well past time to give my homebrew posts and pages their own home: Herbal Brewing. And since my partner has an actual social life and I do not, I’ve had a number of free evenings in which to do the work.

screenshot of Herbal Brewing front page

Taglined “experimental beers with a botanical twist,” Herbal Brewing focuses on the aspect of my brewing practice that I feel has the most potential interest to other brewers. The move was motivated by my desire to make DaveBonta.com more focused on my writing and videopoetry, but I was also galvanized by my discovery that serious brewers use a data description standard called BeerXML that allows their recipes to be shared between different software systems, so I’ve started converting my recipes into it and embedding them in posts with a handy WordPress plugin designed for just that purpose. (Yes, there’s a high level of overlap between beer nerds and computer nerds.) You know me: I’m all about open source and open content.

screenshot of a recipe from Herbal Brewing

There’s some more work to do on the site, but the basic architecture is complete, including a front-page index of herbs and spices and some descriptive text at the top of each ingredient archive page. Here’s a screenshot from the Yarrow page, for example:

Yarrow page screenshot

I’ve long wanted to make a site like this, partly for my own use as a transatlantic homebrewer — digitizing more of my recipes saves me the trouble of carrying the paper hard copies back and forth. Plus my recipes folder is absolutely chaotic, and I can barely read my own writing sometimes.

Ironically, perhaps, this separation of my brewing and writing-related content has led me to finally start treating my recipes in the same computer-forward way I treat everything else I write. It’s as if the current tagline for this re-focused author blog, “digital poet,” has a kind of prescriptive force.

Brewing, writing, thinking

the poet Li Bai raising his glass

There’s no logical reason why my homebrew recipes should clutter up a site otherwise focused on my writing; I just can’t handle the thought of starting yet another blog. But it occurred to me the other day, while I was sparging a bunch of malt with my jerry-rigged lauter tun for yet another strange brew (a sort of Belgian dubbel with Mexican piloncillo sugar and tamarind pods), that actually I’ve approached both avocations in a similar manner. For one thing, I’m profoundly out of step with most other practitioners of each craft, and in somewhat similar ways. And while I certainly wouldn’t consider myself a master of either brewing or poetry, I’ve followed a slow-learning approach to both, focusing as much on the process as on the product, to the almost complete neglect of monetization or careerism. Read the rest of this post at my homebrewing site, Herbal Brewing.

What I did this summer, Part 1: The terroir of London homebrewing

Over the past few years, I’ve become interested in the concept of terroir, traditionally “the site- or region-specific characteristics of a wine,” as it might apply to beer and brewing, both for environmental reasons — imagine the carbon footprint of beer made as per usual with malts and hops from half-way around the world — and also as a way of getting to know a place better and feeling more at home in it. I know I’m far from the only brewer or beer fancier to feel this way; at least two of the local breweries here in central PA now make a point of trying to use local hops, and I’ve heard about small, regional maltings being developed around the US. But in the UK, regional maltings never quite went away, and as for hops, if you’re in London or really anywhere in the southern UK, you’re not too far from Kent, where some of the most sought-after hops in the world are grown.

This summer, I had the opportunity to really revel in that. Read the rest of this post at my homebrewing site, Herbal Brewing.