Hop Damn! humulus lupulus furor (hop madness)

Hop Damn! spent hops
I moved Hop Damn! to secondary today. The IBU count of 114 may be a little high, but its still bitter and has a great citrus aroma and full grapefruit flavor. The gravity is still a bit high at 1.028, but its got a week left. I’m curious how I’m going to get a bottle carbonated enough to take to Hop Madness next Saturday.

I have my doubts that it’ll win Best Damn Hoppy Beer in the Pacific Northwest, but it is good, and with any luck, it’ll get sampled near the end and will place.

Making a Yeast Starter

Even with the advent of pitchable yeast packets and vials, a yeast starter is an excellent way to get quick and vigorous fermentation. Here’s how to make one using that empty growler you’ve been meaning to fill with a local brew.
yeast starter


  • 1 cup light DME (dry malt extract)
  • 1/4 tablespoon of yeast nutrient
  • Yeast – your choice


  • medium-large pot
  • 64 oz. growler bottle or pyrex flask
  • #5 rubber stopper
  • Air lock
  • sanitizer
  • something to stir with – no porous


  1. Sanitize your fermenting vessel and airlock
  2. Bring 1 liter of water (1 quart) of water to a boil. Add
    DME and yeast nutrients, stir in and watch for boil-overs. Boil for ~10 minutes
  3. Cool wort to 80F and transfer to your fermenting vessel. I’m using a 64 oz. growler
  4. Aerate the wort well. If you have a bottle of O2, you know what to do
  5. Pitch the yeast, lightly agitate the vessel, and cap with the airlock
  6. Let the yeasties ferment

Fermentation will probably start overnight, and you can use it as soon as yeast has started settling on the bottom of the vessel. Most people make a starter 2 days before brewing. Good luck.

Widmer Brewery Tour

Today I made a trip down to Widmer to make sure I got another taste of Muscat Love before their last keg ran dry. Since I was already going down there, I decided to hop on their brewery tour.

The tour was surprisingly popular. There were at least 15 people there total, and with the brewer’s actually working, it made for a somewhat warm and crowded tour. It wasn’t bad – but not as intimate as others I’ve been on.

The facility was very nice, and Widmer seems to have planned ahead by adding ample room for combining batches and nearly a dozen lagering tanks. I was also pleased to see a hop room full of Yakima valley’s finest.

Following the tour was a complimentary tasting where we got to sample their flagship Hefeweisen (85% of their product), Blonde, Oktoberfest, IPA and a Milk Stout. I’m not a big hefe fan, and I like theirs even less than most, but their IPA, Oktoberfest and Stout are quite good. The tour guide even gave us a free pint glass, which I believe I accidentally left, as is my custom. Damn.

Following the tour I stopped by the bar to try another glass of the Muscat Love, which I had at OBF this year and was very pleased by. However, I didn’t have it until later in the evening was wasn’t pleased with my memory. It was still excellent and the combination of grapes and hops created a very stimulating sensation, like when you rub a sage brush sprig in your fingers. It was excellent.

The bartender, despite being quite busy, brought me a couple samples. I tried the Old Embalmer barleywine (decent) and KGB bourbon barrel Imperial Stout (superb).

The trip was a bit of an eye-opener for me. I’ve pretty much turned my back on Widmer because of what is available in stores (Hefe, blond, amber) don’t strike me, and because they are partially owned by big – bad AB. However, they are excellent brewers, and as the beers at the Gasthaus show – they’re quite imaginative.