Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Kegs, Kegs, Kegs

Ah, kegs.
Acres and acres of kegs. A lovely sight to see.
The problem is, someone's gotta clean all those kegs, strip the former "brand" off them (much like cowboys marking their cattle, brewers have their own brand to visually differentiate their kegs so they don't wander off to some other cowboy's pasture...) and re-brand them in BrewFarm colors. Gonna be a couple days of hard work. And I couldn't be happier. It sets the mind loose thinking of all the different beers waiting to go into those kegs.
I believe these kegs carry good beer "ju-ju" as they were last in the stable of Sierra Nevada, one of my long-time favorite brewers. People often ask, "what's your favorite beer?" and the usual response is, "the one in front of me in my right hand...". But when push comes to shove, my desert island beer (that one-and-only beer you could have to drink all the time when stranded on said island) has always been Sierra's Celebration Ale.
I love it for what it represents: balance. Strong, crisp hop character. Full malt flavors. Light sweetness that finishes dry. I never get tired of that beer and am sad to see its season fade into the next.
So, does anyone wanna wash some kegs?!?

Monday, July 20, 2009

BrewFarm Test Batch #2

You'd think with a name like Dave's BrewFarm, there'd be some brewing happening every now-n-then. Yesterday, test batch #2 went into the fermenter and is bubbling away like mad - happy yeast make for a happy brewer!
I'm often asked, "...so, whatcha gonna brew?" and especially out here in the middle-of-nowhere, anything other than light colored lagers are viewed with furrowed brow suspicion. ("You're not gonna brew any of that dark stuff, are ya?")
People who know me and my beer/brewing philosophy know I really don't do "style" - I approach brewing much like I cook - and it really doesn't fit into an easily defined style category. That makes for a challenge when I'm trying to explain the beers I'll be brewing. I like to refer to it as "amorphous brewing" or just brewing for the "Beer Experience."
What went into the soup pot yesterday? Here's the laundry list: Dingeman Pale and Special B malts, Weyermann rye malt, brown sugar, molasses, Centennial, Perle and Amarillo hops and Westmalle yeast.

You tell me what it's going to be?!?

Hop Shots

Just a couple mid-season shots of the hopyard and Jake. Currently varieties we're growing this year (expansion is planned): Fuggles, Centennial, Santium, Horizon and a new hybrid from New Mexico (not sure of the lineage as of this posting - gotta get that info...). There's about 150+ plants growing at present. Most are first year rhizomes, and getting established is a 2-3 year journey to productivity. Some of the more "active" hops are starting to flower. Not gonna be a bumper crop but the should be some hops to make some fresh hop beers come harvest.

When Cows Attack

Yesterday morning started out as most mornings on the BrewFarm do - dogs out for their morning rounds, deep inhalation of sweet country air and a gander at Jake (nickname for the wind generator) to see what the winds are doing.
As I walked up the driveway, I saw a strange dark spot further up the driveway: it was a huge spray of cow pie! My first thought was, "damn kids" but the hoof prints pointed to a more likely bunch (or shall I say, herd...) of suspects. Living where we do, cows on the loose is a fairly common occurrence. What set this apart was the stealth and sheer carpet bombing of cow pie spray this pack of bovines was able to accomplish without making a sound. We're talking Ninja Cows! As I walked around the building, evidence of this assault was everywhere. On the bright side, once dry, the poo will go into the compost bin for this fall's soil augmentation.
Thankfully the marauders didn't wreak havoc on/in the hopyard, as I've heard happened to another hop grower in Idaho - cows trampled fencing and tore through the hopyard, destroying their entire field.
Bullet dodged.