Saturday, August 23, 2008

Harvesting Hops & Rainy Day Pale Ale

In part because of the hop shortage and in part because of our desire to be organic & self-sufficient, we grew hops this year. Or, rather, we tried. Dogs and puppies, when paired with an inexperience in growing hops, managed to leave us with only one vine that produced. We originally plants 2 fuggles, 1 kent golding, 1 magnum, & 1 cascade. The one we got anything from was the cascade, but it did manage to grow the full height of the trellis (with attempts to grow higher), so we were happy. After all, you learn best by trial and error.
On Wednesday the 20th we harvested our first round of cascade buds. We were able to get 1/2 an ounce (dried weight). Not too shabby, since this was from one rhizome and it's 1st year planted. We dried them in the dehydrator and froze them once they were nice and dry. They look good and we are eager to use them in a brew!
We also have decided to enter our 1st competition. This is something we're very excited about, as it is an organic beer competition. The 2008 National Organic Homebrew Challange is being put on by Seven Bridges Cooperative and is being hosted by Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant ( in San Jose, CA.
We had originally wanted to enter a couple different styles, but we all know how the economy is and so with limited finances and a heavy sigh, we settle on one. We decided upon a Pale Ale as our beer to enter. It has been given the name "Rainy Day Pale Ale" because, as you can see in the photo, as soon as we began brewing it began raining! One of the things you have to love about SW VA, late summer "mood swings": if they call for rain, we won't get any; if they call for sunshine, it will rain; if you put off brewing till Friday because there is a 90% chance of rain on Wednesday (& 0% on Friday), you will be hit with a quick-moving, clothes-soaking downpour!! Thankfully, as you can see as well, we have our super handy (albeit weather beaten) porch umbrella! TADA!
We haven't bottled the beer yet, and it finished with a lower O.G. than we had planned on, but it should still come out well. We'll let you know as soon as we do!

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