Archive for the ‘hops’ Category

Wow, this site is still here? I guess I will update it.

Since last we were here…..

Oktoberfest 2011 came and went.   Fun again, good beer, first use of my “pin” cask.   The cask worked out great, I brewed an ESB and loaded the cask with whole Centennial hops and I was really happy with the result (well other than the beer that sprayed all over when we vented it – a little lighter on the carbonation next time!).   Still up in the air if we use the cask again this year or not though.

The whiskey barrel aged imperial stout has been kegged & bottled.   1/6th of it has Intelligentsia Black Cat Expresso added, and it turned out fantastic.   As a change I took some Intelligentsia Analog Expresso and added it to a second keg.  I didn’t think this was as good as the first, but still interesting.  The rest of the barrel has been either bottled, will be soon or I may keep one keg full for winter.  Currently, the barrel is filled with a sour Belgian stout that is tasting really good and I will likely pull some of that off in the next month or two to bottle and then continue to use that barrel “solera style” for sour stout like I am with the two wine barrels with the lambic and flanders red.

I rebrewed some of the lambic a few weeks ago to pull some out to use a bunch of the door county cherries we had gotten last year so hopefully that should be ready in a few months.   I plan to use the rest of the cherries we got last year in a small batch of the sour stout.

I know that it’s still 3 months away, but one of the beers for our Oktoberfest party is already done and lagering.  I brewed a helles bock type beer for the “official” festbier.   We didn’t have any lagers last year so I really wanted to do one this year.  It was down to a helles, a traditional bock, and the Vindicator doppelbock.   Since I was already going to have a big double IPA on draft, I figured the lighter of the options might be the best choice.   Anyway, I sampled the helles a couple days ago and it’s quite good.   It should only get better as it lagers in the low 30s.   I brewed it on one of the hottest days of the year so far (98 degrees) so it was quite the brew day but I eventually got it chilled and seems like everything worked out great.  The rest of the beers are best served fresh (IPA, Double IPA, Hefe, etc) so I’ll likely get them done at the end of August or first week of September so they are at their prime come the end of September.

In the last couple of weeks I brewed 3 different beers, all of which are hop focused.   The first was a 100% Citra hopped IPA.   This was a repeat (with a few tweaks) of a beer I did last year and I think I have this recipe down, it turned out great.   The second is a hoppy wheat beer brewed with WY3333 German Wheat yeast and Amarillo hops which is currently fermenting.  This was also the first beer I used my hopback on which was packed with Cascade and Centennial hops.   Can’t wait to try this in a few weeks, it should be interesting – partly because I had a few issues with the mash, and it ended up a bit lower than I wanted.  The third beer I brewed recently is a “Session IPA” – basically a lower alcohol version of an IPA I guess.  I am thinking this should come in around 4.5% abv, and about 42 IBUs, all provided by Simcoe and Amarillo hops.   It smelled fantastic so I can’t wait to try this one also.

Lastly, I think it is time to upgrade some/most of my equipment so I will likely not be brewing anything for the next month or two as I try to gather all the necessary materials & parts to build a new system.  I might put some pictures up during the fabrication, but then again it’s been 15 months between posts so maybe not :)

Vodtennial Hopka

Several years ago I realized that if you steep chili peppers in vodka for a period of time, the vodka can take on the flavor (and heat) from the peppers you used.  As I was cleaning up a bit last week, I realized I had quite a bit of centennial hops (whole hops, not pellets) and a half empty bottle of vodka.  So, I decided to see if I could steep the hops to end up with a centennial flavored vodka.   I measured out about 500 ml of vodka and a 3/4 ounce of hops into one jar, and 700 ml and a 1/2 ounce of centennial hops into another jar.  I let these steep for 2 days and decided to give the first batch a taste.   The aroma was BIG with the grapefruit associated with centennial with a touch of alcohol.   The taste was slightly hoppy – only in flavor, not at all bitter, and fairly vegetal – probably due to the high ratio of hops to liquor.   Although it was vegetal, it wasn’t unpleasant.   I happened to have a lime handy so I gave a squeeze of lime to the taster, and it was actually quite nice.   The citrus of the hops went really well with the lime and seemed to tame the grassy flavor a bit.   I think I will try this again with a lower hop to liquor ratio (I assume it will take a longer period of time in that case) to see if that eases the grassy flavor a touch but maintains the hops flavor and aroma.  I think I have a couple other varieties in mind I’d like to try this with in addition to another attempt with centennial.

Lots O Hops

Saturday morning I harvested about a pound of Centennial hops off the bines at our house.  I planned on also taking some Cascades but they didn’t seem to be ready yet, very little aroma, still quite green and the lupulin was still a pale yellow.  The Centennials ended up being split into two beers brewed that day – most went into an IPA, and the remainder went to a Cascadian Dark Ale.

The IPA took on a very “C” character as I used Columbus, Cascade, Citra, and the freshly picked Centennial hops.  To take a bit of the harsh edge off, I used the “first wort hopping” technique with the Columbus, and promptly remembered why I don’t like to use it.  Normally, I take a gravity reading once the runoff is complete and I can make adjustments to the volume (boiling more or less off) without affecting too much as none of the hops will have been added yet.  With FW hopping, if you are high on volume you can’t just boil longer as you will extract more IBUs (because the bittering hops have already been added) and end up with a more bitter beer.  In this case, I was a touch high on volume so I came in a couple points light for my original gravity.  In the end, it won’t impact the beer very much, but I prefer to hit my numbers when I can.

The Cascadian Dark Ale was a new style and recipe for me.  For this I used Simcoe, Cascade, Centennial, and Amarillo.  To get the roast flavor and dark colors, I used Carafa Special III as the only dark/roast malt.  Since my water tends to leave the roasted malts extremely bitter and astringent when mashed, I used only 25% of the malt in the mash and the remaining 75% was cold steeped overnight and then added directly to the kettle.  I am thinking this should allow some of the roast character to come through while gaining the full depth of color expected from a malt that dark.

Both of these brews will be aggressively dryhopped, with the first addition probably on Friday followed by a second addition Monday and transfer to kegs on Wednesday or Thursday.  I am thinking a blend of Centennial and Amarillo for the CDA, and either 100% Centennial or a blend with Citra for the IPA.

With my focus lately on Belgian and sour, barrel aged beers, I think it’s been over a year since I last brewed an IPA.   Sad, I know, but I am really optimistic about how these two will turn out.   I also should have another couple pounds of Centennial and Cascade hops from the yard to play with in a month so there may be an overly hopped American Amber, Double IPA or American Barleywine in my future…

Bandwagon hops

So, I received the pound of Citra hops I ordered from Freshops, now what to do with them…
The obvious and easy answer is an IPA.  I am thinking bittering with Columbus or Chinook and then use Citra for the rest of the kettle hop additions and dry-hopping. I will probably mash enough for 10 gallons and do side by side brews to compare the hops with my usual IPA blend of Centennial/Cascade/Simcoe.
From what I am reading about the Citra flavor profile and what I could gather from the Sierra Nevada Torpedo 6 pack I had earlier this summer, these hops might be interesting in a Belgian style as well.  So, I am also thinking something like a Wit, Golden Strong or Tripel lightly hopped with Citra.  This might also be a good time to try some Brettanomyces along with a hoppier brew such as Ommegang’s Ommegeddon or Jolly Pumpkin’s E.S. Bam….so perhaps I’ll brew another double batch and leave half straight and then the other half will get a dose of Brettanomyces of some sort and additional Citra for dryhopping….
Looks like I need to get the construction aftermath cleaned up in the garage for a couple of brews next week.

one more spring hops update

Well, good news….the Mt hood has grown a bit and the Willamette has finally sprouted.   I was worried I planted them a bit early as we got some snow and a freeze after I planted them this spring.  The cascade and centennial have been trimmed back and trained onto the twine and are both doing great.  Anyway, last hops photos until we get some cones and harvest time.   I did cut and pull some shoots which I then planted in a pot to see if they would take…worst case is I have a pot full of dirt to use for tomatoes or something…otherwise I will have a cascade and centennial plant I can either give away or keep in pots.   The pinkish flowers are chive plants which were recommended as a plant to help deter the Japanese beetles.  We’ll see, but I am betting more on the insecticidal soap, and/or the squashing under my shoes as a deterrent.