The Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle

October Beer:

Speaking of Howard Pyle -- a better guide to the good life than any communist folksinger you'd like to name -- here's another quote from him appropriate to the day:

There lies the road
to the Blue Boar Inn, a can of brown October, and a merry night
with sweet companions such as thou mayst find there.
October beer was the best of the old-time brewing. Much of the beer was small beer, low-alcohol stuff brewed regularly for immediate consumption. High-quality "keeping" beers and ales were brewed in March and October both, but in October the keeping ale was made with fresh grain and grout ("grout" being the flavoring agents, other than hops), plus hops, if it were beer and not ale. By March, when it was time to brew the keeping beers again, the ingredients had been harvested and aged for six months, leaving the flavor not quite as merry.

These days we can brew with fresh ingredients year-round, if we should choose. Still, we keep to the old ways by celebrating the Oktoberfest, which honors the great October beers of old.

It seems a bit odd even in late August, but today I ran across my first batch of seasonal Oktoberfest beer, stocked in the local grocery. The tomatoes are still running ripe in the garden, and jalepenos too; and we can get Vidalia onions from down Georgia way. All the bounty of summer is still with us; and now, good October beer too.

It's a fine day, and I commend it to you all with a glass of the best.

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