Hops for 2010

Christmas came early this year, and the stinky box of joy was full of gold foil surprises. For loose-leaf brewers cuts I have a brick of Cascades (8.7% alpha this year!) and a brick of Simcoes (11.8%). We all know about Cascades, but I’ve not used Simcoes for a few years and really like them. Great for a single-hopped IPA.

For pellets, I scored the following.

  • Newport (9.8% alpha)
  • Sterling (7.0% alpha)
  • Millennium (17.4%)
  • Horizon (12%)
  • Santiam (6.1%)
  • Crystal (4.3%)
  • Amarillo (8.2%) drool
  • Palisades (8.0%)

Thanks to my connection (father-in-law) and his at Hop Union.

Windy Point wins Platinum

Just a brief viticultural aside: My aunt and uncle at Windy Point Vineyards won a platinum award from WinePress Northwest for their 2005 Cabernet-Franc. I’m a huge fan of this particular wine, so I just wanted to give congrats.

Holiday Ale Fest 2009

I like my space, so the Holiday Ale Fest each year means that I need to simply get used to bumping in to people and spilling some beer for a little while. Like most festivals, I’ve made a habit of taking some work time off to visit before the crowds get too massive. This year was a quick affair; Michelle and I were only able to attend for about an hour before taking MAX home to pick up kids. We were fortunate to meet up with Curtis, Liz, Kevin, Ryan, and Michelle’s coworker Tim for several samples. Nothing we had was bad, and thanks to the early-ish arrival, no beer was bumped and spilled.

My favorites were Cascade Brewing’s Sang Noir, HotD’s Jim 2009, and possibly Oakshire’s Very Ill Tempered Gnome or New Belgium’s La Folie. Each was very different, and surprisingly good out of a plastic cup. The last beer I sampled was Upright’s Holy Herb, and it was unlike anything I’ve had before and I’m still not exactly sure what happened in my mouth. I meant to get over to Saraveza and try it again, but I think I may have missed it. I’m not going to try and describe it until I get a second opinion that doesn’t come at the end of 6 big-beer samples.

We meant to get back and burn up our last tickets over the weekend, but alas, the furnace broke and thesis work needed doing.

Hello world again!

After 4 years on a wordpress installation, I’ve decided to reinstall. I’m not sure what happened, but I was having perpetual mysql connect issues again and the db cache reloaded and hyper-cache didn’t seem to be helping.

EDIT: looks like I was hacked at some point. I’m reviewing things now, but it appears I was hosting a forum for someone.

NoPoToberfest tapped

I tapped NoPoToberfest on Monday, and I’m quite pleased with the results. The fresh hops give it a very fruity profile which is pleasing to the only anti-bitter beer drinker who’s tried it, but the fresh floral and franky, sweet flavors of the wet hops is very nice.

When I moved the beers from primary to secondary, the aroma was still tending on hoppy, but when moving from secondary to the kegs, the hop armoa had turned, well, almost bad. I’m not sure how to describe it, but I was initially concerned that maybe I’d over aerated it when racking to secondary, but the beer itself still tasted good. So, given the amount of beer, and my freezer full of hops, I dropped 1.5 ounces of Amarillo hops in to each keg (in a boiled nylon sack). The effect on the aroma is delightful. It was given a fresher citrus aroma yet doesn’t have the bitter backend of a traditional IPA.

Now I have to bottle some for the neighbor who donated the hops, and a few for some friends.

IBU and ABV calculators fixed

I finally had a chance to sit down and work on the calculators tonight without a baby, cat, or toddler wanting something. Sorry for the delay, it was a pretty simple fix, just needed to replace global variables since the host updated from PHP 4.1 to PHP 5.2. While reading around, I was struck with the temptation to get all AJAXy on them so they do live updating. Given how long the fix took, don’t expect anything soon.

IBU and ABV calculators acting up

A Canadian fan of my avb calculator recently alerted me to the fact that the calculator had gone “on the fritz.” I asked for clarification, but upon trying them myself, I found that they were spitting out “divisible by 0” errors.

I’ve been struggling with my hosting company lately, and in an effort to meet their demands, have been shuffling items around and adding caching and other items to the blogging software. However, since the ABV and IBU calculators are about the only reason for anyone to visit this site, I ought to get them fixed. If it wasn’t the busiest week of the year at work, I’d be all over it. Hopefully I’ll get it worked out soon.

Also, if you know a good shared hosting company that isn’t trying to extort it’s customers in to using dedicated hosting for low use sites, please let me know. Dreamhost is back on my shitlist.

Fresh hop brew day

Yesterday turned out to be a rather long brew day. I started just after 6am and didn’t finish until nearly 3pm. The addition of time came from having to pick and prep the hops, doing a 10 gallon batch, and from having to stop for lunch with Ella, which then required a trip to the grocery store to get some bread for our grilled cheese. All said, I think maybe 1.5 extra hours were added by the extra child-based side trips, 1/2 hour from the extra hop-related work, and maybe an extra 45 minutes because of the larger volume of beer.

All told, the process went rather smoothly, and I ended up with over 11 gallons of wort, using 35 ounces of fresh hops, 2.5 ounces of commercially grown summits for bittering, and 1 ounce of mystery hops that I got from a neighbor and dried on an old window screen in the garage. The original gravity turned up around 1.052, lower than initially planned, but I ended up with more volume than expected. No complaints though.

The prototype tier is still in use, and this time I set up a perimeter using patio chairs and a dog lead. I didn’t want any curious neighborhood person or scrap metal collector to try and mess with a precariously perched tier with 9 gallons of 180F water sitting 6 feet in the air.

Here are some pics:

NoPoToberfest '09

A while back I had a conversation with Full Sail’s John Harris about Oktoberfest and Fresh Hop beers. He felt fresh hop beers were our true harvest festival beer, and I’m in agreement that they have become our de facto style and cause for celebration here in the Northwest. Hell, even brewers some distance from the hop fields are willing to air rush fresh hops to the brewery for a specialty beer. I look forward to sampling fresh hop beers every year (soon, soon…), but I don’t always get a chance to brew one myself.

This year, my hop crop is pitiful. The Willamettes never got down to business, and the Centennials are putting up a rather meager offering. Not to complain though, it’s only their first year. Luckily, my neighbor has a very mature plant that’s gone crazy. He’s given me the access to the cones, so this weekend I’m going to harvest and brew with them. At this point I don’t know the yield so I’m only putting together a grain bill, but I’ll be able to improvise with hops.

Here’s NoPoToberfest – my celebration of the hop harvest using North Portland’s residential bounty.

Grain bill

  • 16 lbs domestic 2-row
  • 2 lbs domestic wheat
  • 2lbs crystal 20L
  • 2lbs Munich

update

Hop bill

  • 2.5 oz Summit @ 60min
  • 1 oz dry unknown @ 20 min
  • 35 oz wet unknown @ 7-5 min

Naturally, I used Safale S-05. OG was 1.052 and the two carboys are merrily bubbling along.

Oakshire's Imperial IPAs

My friend Joe dropped off a sample of Oakshire’s two Imperial IPAs because I had to miss the Sasquatch Brew Fest, and because he’s a nice guy. He’s also a stellar brewer, as is evident after having sampled both of the IIPAs. One, Hop Vice, was smooth and interesting without being overly sweet, and the Amarillos gave it a very lovely bitter and aromatic quality. The Perfect Storm is more of a Northwest style Imperial IPA, though not nearly as intoxicatingly sweet as most, and it kept a better balance of ingredients than most in the style. Both had what I consider an appropriate amount of bitter, and a perfect amount of hop aroma and sweet, citrusy flavor that makes me weak in the knees. I doubt there’s any way to pick these up anywhere soon, but next year, do yourself a favor and cop one.

*note* I know this comes off as total ass kissing, but Joe’s a great friend, a great brewer, and he hooked me up with these great beers.