Saturday, August 16, 2014

2014 Hops

The experts are correct. The first year you grow hops, they expend most of their energy creating a strong root system. The second year, you may expect a decent harvest. This was certainly true of mine. The first year, they grew like weeds (up to a foot a day), but produced almost no cones. This year, only half the rhizomes came back, but sent out 3-12 runners per plant. And, oh! The cones! Feast your eyes!

Cheers, and have a great weekend!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Time Out

Hello! It's been some time, yes?

Well, as you can likely conclude (by the length of time that has passed since my last post) that I have not been brewing lately. You would be correct. Since I have been sitting on the ingredients for a Berliner Weisse for long enough that the grain was likely getting stale and the yeast was probably kaput, I opted to attempt to make bread with it. Using this recipe as a starting place. I ground the grain into coarse flour, substituted 2 cups of it for the whole wheat flour, and used my German Ale yeast as part of the liquid. The sponge smelled amazing, and it rose perfectly. As it baked, a delightful aroma filled Clementine. When it was done and cooled, the scent changed to ever-so-slightly graham cracker. I waited impatiently until it was cool enough to sample. I cut a slice only to discover it had a very dense crust and was completely raw in the middle.


Currently, it is heavy duty gardening season, and the pooch is getting adjusted to our routine (and doing very well). So, I will not be brewing for a while, or even thinking about it, for that matter. Every time I start to plan a brew, try to work it into my schedule and can't, I get disappointed. It's a Time Out on brewing. Just for summer. Once the hops are ready, I will start once again. But, for right now, life looks a lot like this:

Cheers, and have a lovely summer!

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Brewmistress Dog

Well, Clementine Cottage now has a critter. During a (what has become) regular inspection of the Oregon Humane Society website, I spotted this darling little mugshot:

 Lucy the Brew Dog

I had desperately been wanting a canine companion, and this one fit the bill. Long story short, Lucy lives here now. We've met kids and friends. We're working on our wee aggression problem with other dogs (when on the leash). And soon, we will brew a Berliner Weisse.

Now, rub my belly.

Someone will be going on a little doggie diet.
 Cheers, Woof! And have a lovely weekend!

**UPDATE** Not only is she the Brew Dog, she is also a beer lover. I found this out yesterday when Miss Sneaky dove snout-first into a glass of Saison. At least she has exemplary taste.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hippety Hop Hop

Last year I started hops. Cascades and Sterlings. This year, my most prolific Cascade rhizome has sent up 8 runners. The longest bine is currently shoulder height, and the others are doing well. Here's hoping for a bumper hop crop this year.

Cheers, and have a lovely week!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Well, Crud.

Normally, I pride myself on being a very observant and detail-oriented individual. Occasionally, however, I will overlook a major item, and kick myself for it later.

Take today, for instance. Last week, my eagle eye spied a beautiful, warm, sunny Monday. So, I took a vacation day. To brew and rid the yard of weeds. Make lunches for the week. Cut out a dress pattern. Wrap up the day basking in the sunshine in the hammock, watching the hop bines grow.

As I was waking this morning, I decided to peruse my selected recipe (a Berliner Weisse). Apparently I missed out on this key sentence (which so happened to be the first one): "Make bacterial starter 2 weeks before brew day."

I had not done this.

So, I decided to think this over. Went outside, pondering whether I really need to do a two week bacterial start. As I was aggressively ripping out crab grass, I came to the conclusion that, yes, I do really need to do a two week bacterial start. So, the yeast has gone back in the fridge, keeping the rest of the ingredients company.

Harumph. No brew day today. Which is a shame because it is glorious day. Not yet noon, I am decked out in shorts and a t-shirt and am perfectly comfortable.

So, my Things To Do list is a little shorter today. Probably more attainable. Plus, I will get to do my first ever bacterial starter! And definitely get to the hammocking.

Cheers, and have a lovely week!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

New Look

With a new focus comes a new blog look. Naturally, it will likely evolve over the next few weeks.

Cheers, and have a lovely week!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


This year marks the tenth one that I have spent brewing beer (also later, mead and cider) at home. When I first moved out West, it was because I wanted to be a professional brewer, own a pub. Big ideas I had for my brewery. Grand ones indeed. So I packed up, drove my little Toyota Tercel for three days toward the sunset, ended up in Eugene, and started culinary school.

You see, when I lived in Des Moines, the craft beer scene had yet to arrive, and my first exposure to it was six packs of  Fat Tire and Blue Moon purchased for outrageous amounts of money at the local Hy-Vee. How far my palate has come since those days. Naturally, I assumed the rest of the country was suffering the same fate. I was coming to Oregon to help alleviate said suffering. Little did I know, as this was far before smartphones, plus internet service was still paid by the hour, so one could say my research was...insufficient. Needless to say, I arrived in Oregon to find ye olde Saccharomyces cerevisiae being utilized in ways my Midwestern taste buds had not experienced.

Yes, I was a shade shaken. Finding that owning a brewery might not be my path to fame and fortune,  I decided that I would make my own. For pleasure. Fortunately, one of my housemates taught me how to brew. I started at the apprentice stage (doing sanitation), and would help every time he would invite me to assist, absorbing every bit of knowledge I could.

Fast forward to present day. I have brewed over 200 batches (I assume the number is higher, however, I haven't kept terribly thorough records and cannot confirm). I have made amazing beers, horrid beers. Bottles have exploded and actively fermenting batches have blown their tops (sometimes splashing as far as the ceiling). I switched from extract brewing to all grain. I keep learning each time.

But lately, (well, within the last couple of years "lately") I been rethinking what I really want to brew. There are hundreds of breweries in Oregon. Breweries that make an astounding array of amazing Pale Ales, IPAs, Stouts, Porters, and the like. This has gotten me to thinking. I never started brewing because it is cheaper to make your own. A common misconception. What you save in ingredients, you easily spend in time doing amateur zymurgy. It's a wash, and I can easily pick up great beer for a reasonable cost at multiple locations that Skipper and I pass on the commute home each day.

In the last bit of time, I have become rather enamored of the more "wild" end of the brewing spectrum. Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, Pediococcus. These are the wee beasties that I want to get to know better. Plus, a vast majority of my fermenters now carry a badge stating "I AM A BRETT FERMENTER". And I derive far more pleasure taking a good, deep sniff off a fermenting sour that I ever did from an IPA.

So that's the news. I am going all wild (save for the two fermenters that will be used for mead and perhaps a "regular" here and there). Becoming a Sourpuss. So, pucker up Buttercups, and join me on the ride.

Cheers, and have a complex and interesting week!