I will categorize my updates into categories for easy reading :)
Longshot Contest Entry:
My specialty beer, an all-original recipe brewed last night, is fermenting away in the carboy. I am very excited about the recipe, which I will of course not share it its entirety, but which is something along the lines of a Thai-spice coconut honey ale. Awesome, right? Yeah, you know it. I did a partial mash for this brew, which is a stepping stone for all grain brewing (meaning no malt extract, just malt from which one creates one's own extract). So, I used a manageable amount of malted grains and a much smaller amount of malt extract in this brew. This will make the brew even more "homemade" and make it taste even better and more refined. I ended up hitting my Original Gravity (OG) on the nose, so I know that I didn't screw anything up. After mashing in, I started the normal boiling process as usual, enhancing the beer with coconut, honey, and Thai spices including (but not limited to) basil and hot pepper. Mmmm did this stuff smell delicious. I used cascade hops to add a citrusy character akin to the lime accents that one often tastes in Thai food. I used a White Labs California Ale yeast culture for this one, just to pay a little more homage to the Pacific. After smelling this and tasting the unfermented wort, I think (hope) this will really be a winner! My only minor concern is with the temperature here in Andover, which seems to be fluctuating a lot but staying within range. I also took much longer to cool the wort this time because the boil volume was greater, so I definitely need to invest in a chiller. I think all of this will still be fine, as long as fermentation doesn't stop prematurely. The beer seems to be kraeusening just fine. I also NEED A CLEVER NAME FOR THE BREW, so I'm open to ideas.
Pictures from brewing:
Spent grains (left) and boiling wort (right)
I now have three plants of Kent Goldings Hops and two of Cascade hops in my possession, thanks to a great afternoon with horticulturist and fellow homebrew enthusiast Peter Konjoian. On Saturday, I will prepare the patch of my yard for growing and make a trip to the Home Depot for trellis supplies. I plan on doing a tent-pole trellis, which should be very effective. It will definitely be a great construction project for Saturday. If anyone else wants to help me with edging, tearing up sod, digging holes, burying poles, doing geometry, and tensioning guy lines, you are more than welcome to join me in a fun and rewarding day. Currently, Peter's hops are almost all ready to put in the ground, and mine are still about ten days to two weeks away. His plants look beautiful, and mine are just today showing signs of sprouting. Hopefully some good weather will bring these babies out. Peter's have even grown since I brought them home on Sunday...that bodes well. Here's a photo of my beautiful flora, still in pots:
I promise to post trellis pictures this weekend.
-Your favorite homebrewdude