Harvest IPA – August 2011

Here is the recipe that I came up with, to use the hops harvested from the garden. Since I thought going with more of an IPA style beer would really highlight the fresh hops in the final beer.


  • Pale Malt (2 row) UK – 11.5 lbs
  • Caramel/Crystal Malt 40L – 1.5 lbs
  • Cara-pils/Dextrin – 0.5 lbs

Total 13.5 lbs of grain

Yeast: Wyeast American Ale #1056 smack pack

1 tsp of Irish Moss added 15 mins before chiller was started
2 ½ tsp of Fermax Yeast Nutrient added to the Primary

Hop Additions:
1st addition – Centennial – 1 oz. – 60 mins
2nd addition – Cascade – 1 oz. – 30 mins
3rd addition – Centennial – 4 oz. Fresh – Secondary fermentor

6 gallons with O.G. of 1.046

In the primary for 7 days at which point it had a gravity of 1.022. Racked the batch to a secondary, and added 4 ounces of the fresh centennial hops. I then let in sit in the secondary for just a week short of two months. F.G. 1.012 and it was kegged and bottled (into about a half dozen bottles.) on October 7th, 2011.

Update January 10, 2012: Having now had a few pints from the keg (which I forced carbonated), I have to say that this is best beer that I’ve brewed to date. Is the beer a bit hoppy? You bet, but it’s not like I was surprised, since I did used 6 ounces (2 oz dried/4 oz fresh) of hops in the batch for a total IBU of ~63. My only gripe is that my brewhouse efficiency still totally sucks at the 60% range, which is a sorry state of affairs. But at this point, it’s just the cost of doing business for me.

Hop Harvest and Drying Process 2011

Once again the centennial hop plant has produced enough of a cone crop to use in a batch of homebrew. Check out the article on the Harvest IPA that I made, for more details on the homebrew batch.

But after all the picking was done, I had 1 lb and 4 ounces of fresh centennial cones to use however I choose. I used 4 oz of fresh hops to add to the secondary fermentor of the Harvest IPA. While the rest of the cones were placed on drying frames in the basement, and left to dry for about three days.

After the three days had passed, what started as 16 ounces of fresh hops became 4 ounces of dried hop cones. Talk about a loss in water weight! And of those four ounces, I divided them up into one ounces packets and vacuum sealed all four of them. And with the cones vacuum sealed, they’ll be sitting in the kegerator until I brew up another batch of beer in 2012.

Iowa State Fair 2011 – Oenology Competition Results

Well I just received my scoring sheets in the mail on Friday from the Iowa State Fair, and I have some very good news. My final judging scores were high enough that I received two bronze and one silver ribbon from the state fair.

And in reading the scoring sheets, the most surprising thing that I noticed was that the cider that I thought was the worst of the bunch, which was the one that used the Lalvin yeast scored the highest of the three entries that I submitted, winning a silver ribbon. While the cider that used the Premier Cuvee yeast scored the lowest of the three, which I thought was the best of the three. So go figure. But this is most certainly motivation for next year, to work on my brewing techniques.

So here is the breakdown of the final scoring:

21A – Vegetable Beer – Pumpkin Ale – Final Score: 29.5/50

27A – Common Cider – Final Score: 28.5/50
Yeast: Premier Cuvee

27B – English Cider – Final Score: 37/50
Yeast: Lalvin 71B-1122

Rolling Rock in Cans!

Seeing how my last post was all about beer, let’s talk some more about beer. And with it being the middle of the dog days of summer, its time for me to partake in my favorite American summer time beer, that being Rolling Rock beer.

Yes, I know that Rolling Rock is no longer an independent company every since it was gobbled up years ago by Anheuser Busch (so sad). In the beer wars, I’m a Miller kind of guy, but when it comes to Rolling Rock, I’m not that much of a partisan ideologue that I’m going to stop drinking Rolling Rock and give up my summer beer.

With that said, each week I’ve usually been picking up a 12 pack of Rolling Rock bottles, to rotate with my homebrew on tap. But at $11.99 a 12 pack, it’s not exactly a good value play, since my usual value play is a 30 pack of Miller High Life cans for $15.99.

So too my utter and complete surprise this past weekend, the grocery store that I go to just north of my house, had 30 packs of Rolling Rock cans for $15.99. Well consider me sold, over and over again!

Since the last time I saw Rolling Rock in a can, was close to a decade ago in Michigan. And even then, it was only an 18 pk of cans, so a 30 pack is like manna from heaven for me. So until the grocery store stops carrying Rolling Rock in a can, the High Life is getting put on the back burner, since I plan on rocking the box of rocks for the rest of the summer.

Iowa State Fair 2011 – Oenology Competition

One of my goals from last year was to enter a couple of beers into the Iowa State Fair. And what ended up happening last year, was that I totally missed the entry deadline, since I couldn’t figure out how to even submit an entry in the first place.

Well this year, I checked the State Fair’s website on June 28th (a Wednesday) to figure out the entry process, and talk about looking in the nick of time. This year’s entry deadline was July 1st (a Friday) so I just submitted my entries with only a few days to spare.

I ended up entering three different brews into the State Fair this year, with the breakdown being two hard ciders (one with batch #23 using Premier Cuvee yeast aged less than 1 year, and the other cider used Lalvin 71B-1122 yeast aged for 2 years) and the beer I entered was that pumpkin ale that I kegged back in November 2009.

With my entry application accepted, I swung by the fair grounds on July 23rd, since that was the date to drop off oenology entries. And the judging is going to happen before the fair starts on July31st.

The way that the read the entry form, it seems like the final results won’t be released until after the fair is over. Which doesn’t seem to make sense to me, but maybe they will post the results on the fairs website, when the fair starts in a couple of days. Personally I’m curious to see what the judges think of my entries, since this is the first time that I’ve entered one of my brews into a competition. Wish me luck.

Garden – Mid-July 2011

Talk about hot hot hot, oh boy has it been hot and humid this summer. I’ve started on the weeding of the garden, and the first section that I’ve been working on is the rows between the tomato plants. I figure that if I just work at weeding the garden one small section at a time, eventually I’ll be able to get the whole plat completed.

Toward the end of June, I planted some sweet corn seeds in the back section of the left hand side of the garden. Once again, this is a task that I should have completed months ago, but hey C’est la vie. Right now the stalks are about to my knee, so it will be a while before I have any ears for harvesting.

You’ll also notice that I tossed in a bunch of close up shots of the centennial hops. And by the looks of those cones, I’ll need to plan a brew session in the next couple of weeks to take advantage of these fresh cones. I’m think about maybe brewing a Kölsch style beer, with these hops. But since I’m in the pre-planning stage of the brew session, all ideas are welcome.

Hard Cider – Batch 22 & 23 – October 2010

At first this year, I didn’t think about making hard cider since I’m just bringing online ~15 gallons of cider from the 2009 batches. But then I remembered a conversation with JRR a number of years back, about forcing yourself to make cider each year, since it takes about a year of aging to get a batch in drinkable condition. So that means if you skip a cider year, it will be at least two years before you’ll have any hard cider to drink. With that in mind, two weekends ago I placed a special order for 10 gallons of un-treated apple cider (at $5 a gallon) with my cider guy at the downtown farmers market. Since last years cider had preservatives (sodium benzoate) and took FOREVER to ferment out. I worked out a deal with my cider guy for a special order of cider without any preservatives. Continue reading

Hard Cider – Batch 17 – Bottled and Kegged – August 2010

With fall very rapidly approaching, its time to start moving the 2009 hard cider inventory from the fermentor into a more consumable form (bottles and kegs). So the first batch on the production schedule is batch number 17, which used the Red Star Premier Cuvee yeast. The main reason for picking this batch, was that the grommet for the airlock broke in half (pic below) right before I left for Michigan two weekends ago. So I had to make an emergency fix with some Scotch tape to keep a somewhat airtight seal. Suprisingly the tape formed a good enough seal around the airlock, that it gave me enough time this week to clean out my last empty keg. Continue reading

Kegged the Irish Red Ale

After months and months of sitting in the secondary fermentor, I finally transferred the red rye ale to a keg for consumption. This beer was ready to go at least two months ago. And with a FG of 1.020, the extra months in the second really did nothing to drop the FG into the target range of 1.010 to 1.014.

I could only resist about 24 hours, before giving this beer a small taste. And I have to say; this has to be my best beer to date. It actually tasted pretty close to something I might have at a local brewpub, which is pretty amazing to me. Overall, I’m really digging on the hint of rye flavor that you taste in this beer. So the recipe for this beer is definitely a keeper in my book.

Red Rye Ale Recipe.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day and the Bud Light keg is cashed

It only took me a little over 4 1/2 months, but the never ending 1/2 barrel keg of Bud Light is finally cashed. Since this BL keg was taking up valuable kegerator space in the basement, that I could have been using for my kegs of Christmas beer and Red Rye. I decided to take matters into my own hands and start pouring pitchers instead of glasses this past weekend, since I knew from picking up the keg before the ski trip that I was close to the end of the BL.

So one weekend (Friday thru Monday night) and 5 pitchers later, we can officially say bye bye to the folks at Anheuser-Busch InBev right before St Patty’s. Yes the keg was free, and I’m not one to turn away a free beer. But I’ve got to tell you, for not liking Bud Light to begin with; drinking 15.5 gallons of the stuff hasn’t turned me from Miller to Bud. But at least now I can finally get back to drinking the good stuff……homebrew!

Final glass from the keg
Final glass from the keg