Sweet Dead Lion (a.k.a. “Southern ‘Gent”)

What’s better than making a fantastic batch of porter all by yourself? Making a fantastic batch of porter with a great friend, of course! Last week, my friend Jen came over and we had many a home brew while we cooked up a (soon to be) lovely porter.

This one was inspired by my better half, Mudcat. He’s a southern gentlemen from south Mississippi. So for this brew, we added two of his favorite southern ingredients, pecans and molasses. I’d been dreaming of making this batch “The Southern ‘Gent” for some time.

But of course, the spontaneous fun of brewing day took on a life of its own, and this crazy porter developed an alias! As I mentioned, Jen and I were having severalĀ  home brews, and maybe a few research porters. We started examining all the ingredients on the counter (after all, this is the only activity I get to do that involves a test tube!).

Well, the packaging on the Scottish molasses just had us baffled. It was a tin of Lyle’s Black Treacle. The picture and message were just so mysterious! A drawing of a sleeping (dead?) lion with flies all around, and under the lion it reads “Out of the strong came forth sweetness.”

Gross! We suspected this was some kind of sick decomposition reference.

The beer immediately became our little “Sweet Dead Lion.” Hilarious! (To us).

But the label just continued to intrigue us… and I finally got to the bottom of it by reading this blog. The lion IS indeed dead! Woah, I had kinda hoped he was just sleeping there. But the flies are actually bees. The whole thing is a biblical reference, from the story of Samson.

So there we have it. The batch has bubbled away and is almost read to rack. I’m a little sad not to not call it “Southern ‘Gent,” I was attached to the name… but come on! “Sweet Dead Lion” has just the right mix of demented bizarre hilarity and ring-to-the-ear. Maybe I’ll make art on the label look like a southern gentleman and still name it Sweet Dead Lion for no explicable reason.

Highlights of brewing the first batch of Sweet Dead Lion:

  1. Jen is an experienced lady brewer… she started brewing when she was super young (… ahem… 21 of course) and is just a super gal. We had a really great time gabbing, adding this and that, drinking, stirring the vat of brew in the bathtub. Brew with a friend, it’s awesome!
  2. We strayed from the recipe and added that crazy molasses! This made the mixture more dense, (it had a starting gravity of 1.074 instead of 1.053). I honestly have no worries about how it will change the batch. I think it could be 1) more alcoholic and 2) sweeter. No complaints there.
  3. We added true Texas hill country pecans from Leakey, TX. I think that’s really going to do a lot for the beer. I might still add the pecan extract before brewing, as directed in the recipe. But I’ve got to believe thatĀ  the real nuts will provide real… nuts… to the beer. A few pieces were not strained out but I think we can avoid getting them in the secondary fermenter.
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