Monday, December 14, 2009

Good For Wassail's Ya

Sunday was Chore Day. It has to happen. We all hate it. The bathroom needs cleaning. The kitchen's a mess. The bills need paying. There's four kegs and two draught lines waiting to be cleaned out, and a beer needs racking. Laundry threatens to engulf us all. The cat disappeared into the recycling a week ago and hasn't been seen since. Sometimes things just need to get done.

But who says you have to do it sober? And nothing spruces up wintertime chores like Wassail.

A week or so ago Alton Brown did a Good Eats Christmas Special that is easily one of the best episodes in years. My favorite part is where he and Santa are besieged by militant Elizabethan Christmas Carolers. Back in the day, Christmas had a lot more in common with Halloween, including a sort of Trick-or-Treat in which carolers would wassail around singing for food, money and ale (with an implicit "Pay up or we set fire to your Carriage House.") Once they start throwing rocks through his window and wheel up a catapult, Alton and Santa make up a batch of wassail to appease them with.

Here's the recipe.

We made up a 1/3 batch, because well it was just the two of us, too much of a good thing, yadda yadda. For Madeira we used a terrifying, cheap, evil Madeira because that was all Safeway had. For apples, Galas, because that's what we had.

For ale, Deschutes Jubelale because:
  1. All "Winter Warmer" type beers in the NW are descendants of English Old Ales, which historically, being brewed around harvest in the Fall, would have been brewed stronger and saved in the cellar till Winter and Spring or even longer. As such they'd probably be the ale involved in Wassail.
  2. It was on sale for $10.50 a case. w00t!
  3. As I remembered, Jubelale is more English than most PNW winter beers, which tend to be hoppier. Wellllllll maybe they changed the recipe. In the wassail the beer became a bit too bitter. Next time I'd use a sweet, caramelly British import like Old Speckled Hen, Samuel Smith's Nut Brown or Taddy Porter, or Newcastle.
Otherwise, pretty delicious. And it certainly made the chores go faster! Too bad it didn't snow though.


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