Sunday, October 27, 2013

XXX Homegrown Golden Ale

It has been months since I brewed a batch, and I was itching to get back in the groove. It was a gorgeous autumn afternoon here in the State of Jefferson*, and I was happy to be outdoors with my cooker, kettle, and the aromas of malt and hops. I harvested about 3/4 pound (dry) of mostly Cascade hops from my bines last month, and I used them for flavor in my formulation. I kept it simple: six pounds of organic Briess pale extract, and an ounce of organic whole Ivanhoe hops (8% α-acids) for bittering. I used the homegrown cones to jazz things up, tossing in a huge heap (3 ounces!) for the last 15 minutes of the boil. I know that's a ridiculous amount, but my garden hops don't have the same density as the commercial ones, and even though they have a nice aroma they are rather loose and flaky, not tightly packed. I figured I would get very little bittering and I wanted as much of the essential oils as I could squeeze out of them. We'll see how the brew comes together. I used Safale-04 yeast and had the fermenter in the closet by 1400. By the time I'd finished cleanup the wind started howling and dumped a mountain of leaves into the brew area! Got it done just in time. Should ferment out pretty quickly and be ready for quaffing next month.

a.d. VI Kal Nov.

*I have nothing to do with the Siskiyou County nut-jobs who want to secede from California. (Memo to them: please stop.) I've always thought the State of Jefferson was a lovely nickname for our beautiful and remote slice of the Pacific Northwest. I'm happy to be a born-and-bred Californian!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Magnum, Indeed

Check out how tall the Magnum hops are already (taken yesterday):

That horizontal piece in the V is just about six feet above the soil. It grew at least another six inches today while I was at work! That's a Deodar Cedar in the background. We planted it in 1996. Here's another angle:

And finally a look at all three:

The Cascades (middle) are doing fine. The Nuggets are just getting started. Spring has arrived, so we've turned on the irrigation to the garden. Those bines will really take off now.

a.d. III Kal.Mai

Sunday, April 21, 2013


It is spring time here in the State of Jefferson. Take a look at my hops:

Those are Cascades. I had to cut back several sprouts--they are doing very well. All the varieties are rhizomes from Freshops in Oregon. The twine is for the bines, which like to climb. They grow in a spiral, hence they are bines, not vines, which grow by suckers or tendrils.That's cocoa bark, which is an excellent mulch and also keeps the neighbor's cats out of the bed. It smells like chocolate, which I love. The shadows are the A-frame trellis I originally built for peas and beans.

The Magnum are the tallest so far:

Sorry for the lousy picture. The last set are Nugget hops. They have just begun to emerge:

Beautiful plants, don't you think? I hope to have some nice stuff this fall. I would like to try using some "green," or "wet" hops in a brew. Typically the cones (the unfertilized fruits) are dried before they are used in beer, but you can add them when freshly harvested for some different flavors.

I started the garden project at the end of March of last year. Things were 'Comin' Up' by early April. I'll keep you posted.

a.d.XI Kal. Mai

Sunday, January 27, 2013

World Series Stout

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

I fired up the burner today and brewed a batch. I call it WORLD SERIES STOUT in honor of the 2012 San Francisco Giants, the World Series champions.

I used eight pounds of dark extract but steeped a half pound of roast barley in the liquor while it was heating. One ounce of whole Ivanhoe hops boiled for one hour completed the formulation. I got 13 ºP on the refractometer and pitched two sachets of Safale-05 in the carboy. It was a fun and easy brew, and we had just enough sun and relative warmth (40 ºF) to make it a pleasant day on the patio.

Doesn't that look yummy? The last batch fermented out in less than a week. Add a week, maybe ten days of conditioning and then to the keg for at least two weeks, maybe even a month. The beer is always better when I'm patient. It should be perfect by St. Patrick's Day.

MacBeth: Act IV, Scene I