Monday, April 19, 2010

Hop Planting Day!

Today was a wonderfully exciting day in brewing progress for me! I made a visit to a new (new to me, anyway) homebrewing store in Woburn and stocked up on ingredients for my recipe that I plan to enter into the Sam Adams Longshot competition...more to come on that soon. I was pleased to see the selection at this place. They seem to have lots of stuff, especially in the equipment department. They have loads of ingredients and seem to be slightly more all-grain friendly than Jasper's but didn't necessarily have the yeast selection that I would prefer. It was definitely acceptable, but Jasper's is definitely much better, particularly in their Wyeast selection. Nonetheless, I modified my original and picked up a White Labs California Ale culture, which I think will go very well with my current plan for a "Pacific" Ale (I'll explain my methodology on the name and style later). Once again, the people that owned the store were wonderfully helpful and friendly, and I will definitely be back.

After my trip to Beer & Wine Hobby, I ventured to the hardware store for some pots and hyper-nutritious soil with which to get my hop rhizomes started growing. Once they have developed their root systems and I have fully planned and plotted my hop garden and trellis system for the vines, I will transplant them into the ground. This Saturday, I am meeting up with Peter to discuss hop growing and see his own system. Can't wait for all of this to happen! It is really very exciting.

A sad bit of news came today when I visited a restaurant that has no tap system and therefore goes through bottles extensively to inquire as to whether they would be willing to sell me some of their bottles. The manager who dealt with me was REALLY weird about it and had no good explanation to offer me other than that they had a contract with the recycling company. Would the recycling company realize it if this week, the restaurant had a couple dozen fewer bottles? Methinks not. Whatever, they're assholes, and it's more incentive for me to go draught with my homebrew sometime this summer. I'm trying to think positively. Meanwhile, everyone should SEND ME BROWN BOTTLES WITH PAPER LABELS THAT DON'T HAVE SCREW CAPS!!!

The Ever-Obsessed Brewer

Sunday, April 18, 2010

P.S. Trying new things!

Last night, I had the pleasure of indulging in some commercially made brews at Sunset Grill and Taproom in Boston. I tasted wonderful specimens of Saison, Rauchbier, and a Mocha Porter. I would really like to explore the first two styles a bit, as they were beyond intriguing. The Saison was bright, refreshing, citrusy, and altogether not all that comparable to other beers I have tried. The rauchbier was REALLY interesting stuff. Rauchbier is beer made from smoked malts, instead of the traditional kilned malts (crystal, Munich, mild, pale, chocolate, the list goes on...). This gives the beer a, you guessed it, very smoky flavor that went awesomely with burgers and would be great with other stuff too. I do think that if I were to make some, I would probably want to make a smaller batch of the stuff, because it is definitely not an everyday kind of beer...but boy is it good.

Birthday Wit!

The witbier is done, and it is just fabulous. The result of my efforts was an amazingly refreshing, flavorful brew. The color is a gorgeous wheat gold, and the mouthfeel is just wonderful. Thanks to some oatmeal in the grist, a somewhat unconventional ingredient in witbiers, the beer has nice head retention, excellent lacing, and a creamy yet crisply dry and refreshing mouthfeel. The carbonation is wonderful, for the beer is wholly effervescent but the bubbles are finer and incredibly pleasant. As for flavor, this guy is delish. It carries all of the usual notes of a witbier, a nice subtle fruity profile with clove and banana esters complimented by coriander and fresh citrus. The ginger added more depth to the flavor, with a dry, unsweetened ginger ale-like finish. So, while this beer is definitely totally within the conventions of witbiers, it offers lots of interest to the palate, much of which is reminiscent of more complex Belgian-style ales. The particular strain of Wyeast that I used for the recipe may have something to do with this as well, as it is often used for Belgian specialty ales. I am so proud right now, for this is my FIRST ORIGINAL RECIPE. Come by and taste some, and if you don't catch it now, it is VERY likely that I will be brewing it again this summer.

As for a couple of other quick updates, the lager has now been cold conditioning for about 3 weeks, and I feel I might need to do something about that. I need only to acquire some more bottles and get that thing carbonated and ready for drinking. It will certainly be refreshing and offer an option to those who care more about carbs than they do about living life...but I digest. Right now, my next adventure is to develop a recipe for the Sam Adams Longshot competition. The category for is specialty beers, so I will really be able to get those creative juices flowing! More to come on that soon...I keep that contest in mind as I look forward to my next trip to the homebrew store. It's going to be about time to make the trip soon! I already have a shopping list going for it. Perhaps I will venture there tomorrow, since I am off work :)

Prost. Sunny's Ginger Wit (aka Jeff's Birthday Wit) ftw.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The rhizomes are in!!!

The hop rhizomes that I ordered are in!!! I have one Nugget rhizome and one Sterling rhizome. The Nugget rhizome is a high-alpha hop, which means that it will be used mostly for bittering. The Sterling is a Saaz hybrid that will have a Czech Pilsener/German Noble Hop character to it. Should be wonderful in lots of different kinds of brews. I will likely be planting this weekend :). This will probably mean lots of updates, as hops vines grow and change rather quickly. I can't wait to get this project going!

My friend and comrade, Peter Konjoian, will be my guru for hop growing and will hopefully be bequeathing me with some Fuggle, Goldings, and Cascade hops. Fuggle and Goldings are English varieties that are absolutely delicious in English-style pale ales, bitters, brown ales, and stouts/porters. Cascade hops are a really popular American variety that will be primo for American pale ales, IPAs, ambers, and whatever else I can think of! So excited.

Now, I'll have to get working on my plot...soil nutrition and sunlight will be really important along with a place for the beautiful vines to climb and grow! I will be looking to set up some sort of trellis system for them, and that will be a project that I will look into rather soon.

Witbier should be ready to drink soon! I am so excited.

Monday, April 12, 2010

I need to take more original photos

It might be time to get on that...I should vow to take one picture with each activity in which I partake. I think it would make the blog even more enjoyable, and it would provide some great pictorial memories of my most favorite hobby OF ALL TIME.

Mead updates...

Yesterday I decided to check the mead and see how it was doing, and I noticed that it was crystal clear and that 6 out of 8 orange slices had sunk to the bottom of the jug, so I decided to give it a taste again. Man is this stuff wonderful. I have created some serious nectar here. The guy who invented the recipe/methods said that he had never waited long enough to see the oranges sink to the bottom, but he quoted the time frame of fermentation/clearing at about 2 months...hmmm. Maybe I just have a superhero awesome mead? I would think that I had stuck fermentation, but the stuff tastes great and the oranges thing is a dead giveaway that the thing has been sitting for sufficiently long. I doubt that some bottle conditioning would hurt it, anyway. I am going to carbonate half of it and see what we like better, carbonated or still, chilled or room temp! Exciting stuff, seeing as we have no standards for mead here :)


The Buzzing Meadmaker

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sunny's Ginger Wit... in bottles. I am really excited about it. It tastes really great already, and I can't wait to see how the flavors develop. Now, with exactly ten days until my birthday, the timing should be just about perfect. It is a beautiful golden wheat color, and I just can't wait to chill it and drink its Belgiany deliciousness. Until then, I'll have to be patient, but I think I'll be just fine. Four bottles of ESB remain, so I'll have to ration them accordingly (I may also set one aside for a "beer archive" so that I can collect a few and then organize a tasting of a few of my excellent beers). Right now, it tastes really good. I feel like the character of the malt has really developed a lot. The beer has really developed a nice nuttiness to it, and the head/carbonation are of even higher quality now.

Now, the lager is still lagering and my primary is empty...may have to do something about that. I'm thinking about what my next brew will be, and what my approach will be for it. If I can get my hands on a couple of simple materials, I really want to try going all-grain (for those of you non-brewers, I will explain that when I actually do it). I just need a bigger brewpot and some sort of lautering system. I would really like to do something refreshing, probably either an American-style pale ale (which I will name "Ballardvale Pale Ale"), or a California Common beer similar in character to Anchor Steam, although that might have to wait until I can maintain proper temperatures.

This summer will be an exciting time for the brewery. I should be outputting a lot, and it'll be really fun.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Sorry that I haven't updated. The last couple of days have been crazy, and I will be bottling tomorrow. More to come soon.


The Brewer

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Weekend update:

Today, I did some sampling of my stuff. I tasted the witbier, which is now ready to bottle. Wow was it good. The stuff is really balanced, spicy clovey ginger coriander goodness combined with a bright yet mellow citrusy flavor. I have a feeling this stuff is going to be gone fast. What awesomeness for my first original recipe!

I also went out on a limb and tasted the mead today. It has been almost crystal clear for about a week and a half, so I decided to just check it out. It is showing some ridiculous promise. The flavor is wonderful. It is a sweet mead, but I think some more of the residual sugar will mellow out in the next month to give it lots of great balance. I have a feeling I will be making more.

Recap: the mead and the witbier are both delicious and beautiful, and I will be bottling the wit either tonight or tomorrow depending on how effectively I can get off my ass and do it. They will compliment this lovely summery weather perfectly, though :). Sunny's Ginger Wit will probably reappear sometime this summer.

Sunny the Brewgod