Essential Liberty

Update 2015-05-23.

  • Recipe
    • 1st Version was actually a conversion of an old extract recipe into all grain. I am happy with the result and unlikely to alter this recipe further.
  • Brew log
    • 1st batch (old recipe) bottled some time in 2009 (no bottles left)
    • 2nd batch (1st version) bottled 2013-08-27
  • Lifestream – short posts and images about this beer

The Story of the Beer

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. — Benjamin Franklin

This beer started life under a different name, it was actually Living Proof Black Rum Stout. It was the first beer I brewed with a former friend, the one responsible for getting me back into brewing in general and making beer specifically.

The first attempt at the recipe, one taken from Sam Calagione’s book on extreme beers if I remember correctly, was challenging to say the least. After more than a year of conditioning, it actually compared well to one of my favorite imperial stouts, Oskar Blues Ten Fidy. Early on it was salty and a little sulphurous.

The theories about what made this a challenging young beer were that the cardamom did something odd or the black patent malt was too aggressive. My former friend believed that latter so strongly I never saw him use black malt again, even when called for in a recipe. We kept talking about making the beer again, to try to improve the recipe so it would only take a few months to condition rather than over a year. We finally managed to do so as one of the last beers we brewed together.

Since I did the heavy lifting re-visiting the recipe, both to try to address its defects and to turn it from an extract recipe with some specialty malts into an all grain beer, I am keeping it on my list. I also renamed it so feel that it fits well all around in my current library of recipes. I will probably not brew it as part of my regular rotation but as a specialty beer, like my barley wine.

I don’t think either of our theories about the flaws in the first batch were right. A few modifications were made to this beer on that last brew day. I ordered too little of the black strap molasses so added a pound of a higher quality molasses. Tasting and smelling the two varieties, I believe the black strap is  responsible and should be kept to a minimum so that it integrates without overpowering the dark malts in the beer. 1:1 with a better molasses works well enough, I wouldn’t recommend anything less than that when adding in the higher grade syrup.

The quote is one of Franklin’s more famous ones. At the time we brewed the last batch, while I was still working in public policy, a lot of reform work was being done around mass surveillance and privacy here in the US so the quote and name seemed apt at the time.

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