Friday, November 6, 2009

Tasting Hop Killer

I had a chance to catch up with Kurt at his parents' home in King City over Thanksgiving, my first time in his childhood home since our days in college many moons ago. Part of the trip was a beautiful assortment of brews including a bomber of his new 2009 Hop Killer. Although the other Brew Jammers have all had their chance to taste a previous incarnation (I think) this would be my first opportunity to sample it.

For those that don't know Kurt is the owner of a great hop farm at his house, harvesting a great bevy of hops annually, many of which make their way into home brews like this one. In celebration of completing 21 straight days in the office without a break (including weekends) I decided to relax and sample the night away:

The Pour
I selected my wide-mouthed King Brewery glass this time around. Poured a nice dark shade of amber, clear and almost completely still. A terrific marshmallow tan-coloured head rested atop, gently moving towards a half inch of head that laced the glass throughout. 4/5

The Nose

No questioning the abundance of hops here, the aroma is a burst of floral hops right off the pour. Soon after comes the caramel malt, a lot of it. A strong molasses-like sourness rises up, especially from the bottle. It's expected for the style of beer, although the sour notes are a bit unexpected, although almost undetectable in the actual pour. 7/10

The Taste
Obvious, strong bitter hops hit first, and linger as you sip. Side-by-side with them is that sourness I pulled in the nose, I'm not sure what it is. It's a bit lemon, a bit grassy, a bit black tea and hard to pin down. The malt promised in the aroma isn't as strong in the taste at all, causing a lack of balance you might expect in an IPA. Am I pulling juniper out of this?! (Apparently not..) 6/10

As It Warms
Definitely improves as it gets to serving temperature, warming quite a bit with more noticeable alcohol. Bitter hops remain front and centre and the grassy notes strengthen, though the sourness begins to move away. Additional malts to offer a sweet balance would have improved what's still a decent homebrew.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


My money is on the sessional IPA.
Northern Brewer wrote me today to update me on the whereabouts of my wayward brew kettle. I paid >30 days ago, and it's still not here!

They claim that Blichmann had trouble getting the Brewmometers in for that model, but I suspect I know what happened. In this economy, no one keeps inventory. They probably waited until they had enough orders to manufacture.

I wish they'd just 'fess up so I could plan. I want(ed) to have a run through the new system before you fellows arrived. Just to work out the kinks. Now that may not be possbile.

So, here's the schedule:
Set the water to boil - about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, we weigh out and mise en place all the ingredients.
The grain will mash for about 45 minutes, and the sparge and colletion will take another 45, minimum.
We're up to two hours, 15 minutes so far.
Then we bring it to boil and do our hop additions, which is another hour and 15.
That's four so far for those counting.
Finally, we chill and pitch (about another 15 minutes).

Half an hour for clean up brings us in just under five hours.
We have to start spot on ten am.

My (our) first all-grain endeavour - Can't wait!
I bought 25 kg of 2-row pale malt.
At 15 pounds per batch, it ought to last me a while.

What To Brew?

One would think Blogger would have some kind of poll option but, alas, that doesn't appear to be the case. Mr. Deveau has kindly offered to host the next full gathering of the Brew Jam crew on November 28th, and has graciously offered us the chance to vote on which of the following we'd like to brew:

1. A sessional IPA
2. A vanilla porter
3. A classic brown ale

Vote in comments.

I should also personally note that you should all come prepared to drink, I really need to start emptying my cellar so there's going to be an awe-inspiring array coming with me. Perhaps an old-fashioned rating/tasting?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Tasting Cranberry Ginger Bitter

Halfway home from Chicago this week I paid my first visit to the Theil family for a visit with their new boy, their first boy, the "hop farm", and a little beer swap. I left behind a Bell's Expedition Stout and Bell's Cherry Stout, and took home a Great Divide Titan IPA, Green Flash IPA, and two bottles of the illustrious Cranberry Ginger Bitter our resident brewmaster had imagined up a couple months back. Tonight, I relaxed at home with one of the bottles:

The Pour
I selected my Jameson wide-mouthed stem glass for this operation. Cracked the swing-top bottle and poured it out. Deep mahogany, a little cloudy, about an inch of foamy, tan head that soon left only a small line behind.

The Nose
The first hit is brown sugar, chased quickly by those cranberries. Diving in a little deeper I pull sweet ginger, reminiscent of ginger ale moreso than pure spice. It's the brown sugar coming through strong, though, and it's a very appetizing aroma that gets me excited for phase 3.

The Taste
This is one complex brew! Everything promised in the name is quick to arrive, notably those cranberries and a good dose of hops. Not as sweet as I anticipated base on the aroma with the hops and cranberries double-dosing the taste buds on IBUs. Not to say it's overwhelming - sweet malts and brown sugar are evident as well, but definitely take a back seat to what becomes a ruby red grapefruit flavour. Looking for ginger? It's there, and treated well as a subtle note, as it should be. I'm told it's 8% and it's not hard to believe, this one will keep you warm whether you want it to or not. ;)

As It Warms
The alcohol actually calms while the sugars move forward, leaving a very well balanced brew behind. Smooth sipping and well rounded. Excellent job!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Hop Trellis

Two years ago I started growing my own hops.
I planted six rhizomes and only two survived - Willamette and Galena.
My first harvest was a meager 10 oz, but it was fun to watch them grow up to my second floor bathroom.

I enjoyed it so much that I started studying hop production methods.
After getting permission from SWMBO, and inspiration from BYO magazine, I worked with my father to design my own trellis system.

Rather than buy a ladder, or have to cut down the hops for harvest, we opted to use clothesline elevators. They'll allow me to lower the hop bines bit by bit for harvest and then raise them again for the greenery. I may even get two harvests.

The 6x6 posts are 15.5' in the air, supported in 12" diameter postholes 4.5" deep in 5.5 bags of Quickcrete each. That's almost 300 pounds of concrete each, before water. I'll be paying my friend Darren in beer in perpetuity for his labour. What a tonne of friggin' work!

...I hope that's enough to support them. If the hops acts like a sail and pulls at the posts in high winds, I suppose I can lower them temporarily.

Each hop rhizome will have two bines, and in their second year should produce three pounds of hop flowers, dry weight.

Some have already sprouted: (2) Magnum, (1) Chinook (2) Galena (2) Stirling (2) Willamette plus my original Willamette and Galena.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Cranberry Bitter Bottled

Hey Guys,
After 10 days in the secondary, I bottled the Cranberry Bitter...
Friggin' smoooth - you can taste the cranberries, and the definitley a tad bitter - a little warmth too, oh ya - that's the 8%
Upon the aroma, mouthfeel, etc - this should be a good one - will be ready the week of April 27th...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Brew Jam Post #1

Kurt's Cranberry Ginger Bitter
Intro to BrewJam Member:
Name: Kurt (aka Tilo)
Instrument: Drums
Fav Beer: Hopslam, #9, Green Flash IPA

Kurt on the drums

Well, well...I have the distinct honour of the first post - well here it goes....
brewed March 27th, my Cranberry Ginger Bitter.

Note - Saran Wrap is your best friend - make sure that stirrin' spoon don't touch nothin grimey! As well, I find it is always nice to have a bottle of Cabo Wabo nearby...

I use a Gatordade cooler as a mash tun - works really well, and here are the ingredients for this batch:

and here is the finished result....


Water: 1.5 gallons distilled to 175, 1 gallon at 170 to sparge

7.5lbs Coopers Bitter LME

1.1 lbs Light Spraymalt

Base Grain:
al 120 - 1.04lbs
German P
ilsner - 1lb
Wheat: 1.01 lbs
Oats: 1.04 lbs
Flaked Rye: 1.01 lbs

brown Sugar - 1lb
Australian Candied Ginger: 5oz
Cranberries - 4.5 lbs

Bittering: 1oz Nuggett
Flavouring: Kurt's Goldings (5 oz dried)
Finishing: 1oz Perle

1 Irish Moss, 1/4 tsp yeast nutrients, 1 grm gypsum

OG: 1070 (9.6%)

Batch Notes:
5 lbs of base grains (including oats, rye) were too much for this size mash tun - had spill-over when sparging - not fun. Will transfer to secondary at around 1015 - would like this to come in at 7-8% FG....