Second Starter with Dry Yeast

I just finished pitching another starter using Fermentis dry yeast. This time I used T-58, a spicy Belgian ale yeast. Only 45 minutes after pitching, the starter is active. I am prone to believe that it is just re-hydrating rather than “going to town.” But I don’t know how yeast think.

Here are two pics I snapped. The first is the mini-wort about to boil with a yeast nutrient stain on top. It looks drinkable itself. The second is the active starter.
Starter before boil Rapid Start

Pike is back?

Pike Brewing has been purchased back by it’s original owner from Merchant du Vin. While I haven’t noticed any problems in the 9 years of ownership, and my  I’ve not noticed any changes either. It’s hard to find Pike on tap down here in Portland, but I love getting Kilt Lifter, 5X stout and their IPA in bottles when I can.

Wait a sec, it’s been owned by the Merchant since I began illicitly drinking it in 1998.

Hops and Aphids


My hop is growing like crazy now and it seems to have attracted the attention of a few aphids. The aphids have attracted the attention of some ladybugs, ants and wasps. Still, there might be a few too many aphids.


Any tricks for getting rid of them? Soapy water? Crushing them between finger and thumb? Ignoring them?

Lagunitas Night

Joe, Lindsay, Tom and I walked over to Concordia Ale House last night to “meet the brewer” from Lagunitas Brewing. The place was packed, but there was no apparent gathering around a single person, so I asked the owner if he’d already left. Turns out, it was the owner who was playing guitar in the corner. Joe and I chatted him up a bit later and were both surprised at how affable he was. He shared some of his philosophy on ingredient selection, recipes and brewing and shared credit with his wife and brewers for the product.

He said that he had made the trip to truly impress a few people with Lagunitas in hopes that we’d share our impression with friends. Grass roots advertising. I told him about the impression his IPA had on a group of friends and I don’t think it was quite the kind of impression he meant. I still think he was pleased that we both agreed that his IPA is distinctive and delicious, but didn’t share his hop bill. One of the treats that apparently made the trip up with him was an eisbraun named B3k.

B3K was a twice-frozen brown ale that had matured since 2001 (5 year old beer!) to a marvelous 18%ABV with some really stellar flavors. I’ve read (from BYO, I think) that with an eisbeer, any imperfections in the beer are magnified because you’re reducing the dilution by water, so it is best not to freeze anything that isn’t near-perfect. The brewers apparently knew what they were doing with this batch because it had a great warm fruity brown taste and I became concerned that I might be in for more trouble than I’d expected.

Hops and Prostates?

According to Yahoo:

“A main ingredient in beer may help prevent prostate cancer and enlargement, according to a new study. But researchers say don’t rush out to stock the refrigerator because the ingredient is present in such small amounts that a person would have to drink more than 17 beers to benefit.

“Oregon State University researchers say the compound xanthohumol, found in hops, inhibits a specific protein in the cells along the surface of the prostate gland.”

I’m going to assume those 17 beers would be Bud Light, which has an IBU in the neighborhood of 10 bittering units. Is it safe to assume then, than 17x that would equate to two pints of a beer with 85 bittering units? Maybe even three pints of a beer with 60 IBUs? That’s within reason – right?

North American Organic Brew Fest

Three years ago Scott and I stopped by the first Organic Brew Festival at Port Halling in Gresham. It was cool, and there was an indication that organic beer was getting better.

Organic Brewers FestThree years later, the second organic brew festival finally happened. This time word got out and there was a tremendous turnout. I rode downtown, caught the MAX to Washington Park, then rode home afterwards. It was a great place for the event and transit options were excellent. There was a great fusion/jazz band early in the day and some other groups playing through out the afternoon. Our CSA driver was there handing out produce and enjoying the beer, some classmates were also there, as well as a few other home brewers and pro-brewers, and fellow BA Ned and a couple random people that I’d seen elsewhere in the community lately. The vibe was pretty cool too – nicer than OBF on a Saturday.

The beers were only marginally better than 3 years ago. I’ve expressed confusion over the quality of organic beer before, and there are several brewers that have made great strides in the end product, but on average, there’s just something different. Wrong isn’t the right word, but I can’t quite get behind the taste. The economics, politics, and karma of organics is something I really believe in, so this is a strange conundrum.

Yesterday I think I realized what makes organic beers taste like organic beers. The range of ingredients available is increasing, but still relatively limited. I think the malt specifically is the one ingredient that defines the taste of these beers. I had an IPA from one brewer and a pilsner from another that had an almost identical malt profile and aftertaste. It’s the flavor I often associate with old beer or British bitters. There’s a certain dirty funk to the flavor that can be nice when subtle, but it shouldn’t come across in every beer. Maybe I need to adjust my paradigm, but I’m not ready yet.

I don’t know what difference could exist in the process – maybe it’s in the malting, maybe in the storage time, maybe the grain just tastes fundamentally different – but it is different – and it is probably one of the few products where you can almost always pick out the difference between the organic and petrol versions.

There were a couple beers that stood out though. I should mention that I stuck almost exclusively with IPAs. That’s my meter-stick for beer. Both Laurelwood (no surprise) and Alameda had good IPAs – the hops were vibrant and balance nice. Butte Creek, whose beers I generally dislike, had a great imperial IPA – but I think the high alcohol content (and flavor), the extra hops, and the residual sweetness overpowered some of the malt flavors I dislike. Bill’s from Cannon Beach had a Spruce ale that was excellent as well.

The festival itself was great – the people, the music, the food, and the vibe were worth the trip – and plying people with a little beer on a great day rarely hurts. I’m glad the Roots brewers are committed to the cause and to the festival, and I expect them to keep pushing things in the right direction.