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A proper Land-Rover beer?

Original Author: Alan Richer
I have noticed in recent conversations with other Rover owners that there is some confusion as to the proper beer(s) to be consumed if one is a Land-Rover owner. LR/RR owners seem to be the only owners with this problem, mostly due to the proliferation of wonderful beers, ales and the suchlike on an isle otherwise not noted for edible food. And then there's the Australian problem....all that Fosters in 1-liter cans.

Unimog owners, of course, drink good German pilsners, or perhaps a Doppelbock if in the mood for something darker. Jeeps can often be followed by the trails of American lite-beer cans falling out of the back (plus the remains of the ones used to patch bodywork). And Japanese 4X4 owners....who cares? We LR owners are the only ones with this confusing problem.

Now, on to the problem.

I think we have to look at this problem geographically. A suitable beer for the a cold day on the moors wouldn't be appropriate for an Arizona mountain-climb, and of course shouldn't even be considered. The type of vehicle also plays a part here. A hearty ale suitable for a hairy-chested (and eared... -ed.) Series II herder wouldn't be at all suitable for the more refined champagne sensibilities of a Discovery owner, who would of course prefer a microbrew served at the proper temperature.

But I digress.

The first thing we need to address is quantities and frequency, which shouldn't vary with either the vehicle or individual tastes. The simple answer on this one is large, and not while driving or planning to drive or operating machinery or tools. We need to be careful on the drinking and driving issue, but other than that we're all adult enough to take care of ourselves on this one.

Now, the "what to drink" can rear its head for discussion and argument.

In my opinion, the baseline beer here is Bass Ale, or perhaps Watney's Red Barrel for those of lesser tastes. These are good all-around hearty British ales, each with a distinct character of its own. Mixing ale with lemonade is definitely OUT, but if you do, don't tell us.

For those who prefer a darker comestible, Guinness stout is a classic among classics. As it can be had everywhere in the Known World, it can be a link to home when in the Kalahari, Nome, or Nepal (or New Jersey, for that matter -ed.). Also, should it be necessary, it can be used as a temporary substitute for the 90-weight in your gearcase and will have its flavour and drinkability enhanced by the experience. Harp Lager need not apply....

Of course, when one is off the beaten track, experimentation with whatever the local publican has on tap is more than acceptable. Scotch Ales, with their sweeter character and heavy malty body, cut the trail dust well after a day roaming back roads and green lanes in the Highlands. If one is in the wilds of Ireland, perhaps a barleywine, with their complex sherry-like characteristics would be suitable for contemplative evenings toasting one's feet before a peat fire. Murphy's Stout would be singularly appropriate here, especially considering the close association Murphy and Lucas have in our Rovers.

North American brews can and do have a place in this research. Maudite and Saint Ambroise from Canada, with their wonderful hop nose are fine companions to good times. In the U.S., Pete's Wicked Ale, Sam Adams from Boston, or any hoppy microbrews from Washington State can be pressed into service happily.

Let us not even mention American megaswill, or the Carling counterpart in Canada....

The megaswills do have their place, though. The excessive carbonation in them removes mud and cleans glass quite effectively. They should not be used as coolant, however, due to a high freeze point (32F.) and a low boiling point (212F).

The vehicular differences can begin to be seen at this point. Diesel owners, after having their palates dulled by the smell of their mounts, may prefer a hoppier beer, such as an India Pale Ale, the better to cut through the Diesel stench that pervades their senses after even a short ride. Range Rover and Discovery owners, because of the comfort and refinement they experience, might go after a nice pint of mild, or perhaps cider or scrumpy.

To sum up the commercial situation on beer: Do what you do for parts for your Land-Rover - import, substitute local parts as appropriate, or do without.

Of course, the quintessential Land-Rover owner makes his own beer, thus is not influenced by the fickle wave of beer fashion.

As a point of encouragement for this, I have (as a dedicated brewer and Series IIa owner) concocted the following recipe for my brethren in the Rover world. I came up with this one after experiencing, first-hand, what a 2.25 liter S.IIa Diesel will do to oil in a very short time. The Diesel left shortly after, but lives on in the recipe for this fine honey stout.

Churchill's Diesel Crankcase Stout

9 Lb. Pale Barley Malt
.5 Lb. Biscuit Malt
.25 Lb. Black Patent Malt
.25 Lb. Chocolate Malt
1 Lb. Cracked Oats (Oatmeal can be used here)
- Oatmeal is there for body - Lots of it!
.5 Lb. Dark British Crystal Malt
2 Lb. Dark Honey - it ferments almost completly away but leaves a nice
flavor component.
1.5 ozs. Northern Brewer hops
1 Tablespoon carrageenan flakes AKA Irish Moss (to help clarify)

Mash-in malts with 11 quarts of water at 176F. Ensure that the cracked oats or oatmeal is thoroughly stirred into the mash, or you'll have a glutinous mess on your hands when sparge time comes around.

Perform a single-stage infusion mash for 45 minutes at ~152F, then sparge with 6 gallons of 180 F. water. Boil until volume is reduced to 5 gallons (about 1 hour) adding hops at beginning of boil. Force-chill to 80F, then add yeast starter of Wyeast 1084 Irish Ale or equivalent.

A good dry yeast can also be used here, but nothing too attenuative.

Ferment single-stage for 2 weeks, then siphon to bottling bucket, adding a prepared priming syrup of 1 quart water with 2/3 cup of corn sugar, boiled for 10 minutes then chilled. Bottle or keg as is your wish. I personally find that this brew does better after a month in the keg, then chill it down for a week to pack the yeast blanket at the bottom of the keg.

Of course, the bottom line is to trust your taste on what to drink, as any beer is appropriate to a Land-Rover. Especially as beer is much like the oil in our trusty old friends - you put it in, and soon after, it leaks out. Sometimes very soon...

My thanks to Ken Leonard and Dick Joltes,hopefully both to soon be Series owners, who both helped in the taste-testing and suggestions for this document.

Reprinted from the Ottawa Valley Land Rovers newsletter



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