Friday, March 27, 2009

The IPA is in the ferementer.

The airlock has been steadily percolating for the about four days.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Planted the Hop Rhizomes Today

We have a good yard for growing hops. With very few trees there is quite a bit of direct sunlight all day long. We chose to plant the hops behind our garage in order to have a wind break to protect the bines. Instead of using the garage roof, a modified version of the hops trellis found at Power's Brewery will be installed. The trellis will accomoate four pairs of hop rhizomes. A post on the trellis build will be up soon.

In order to help with drainage, we decided to plant four pairs of hop rhizomes in small hills spaced 8 feet apart. This required removing the grass from behind our garage in a 25' x 3' strip. The grass in our backyard is a combination of crab grass and weeds, so removing a large strip was not a big deal. It came up pretty easily with the use of a spade and our bare hands. We ended up using a bunch of the removed sod to patch up some spots in the yard. Hopefuly, it will take. When we finished pulling up the sod we had a grass and weed free strip of soil to work with. Our soil is very rocky with quite a bit of shale. While drainage is a bit of a problem in our yard, we chose a spot that does drain relatively well. Our original plan was to rent a rototiller and to turn over this entire strip. After some discussion, and a check of rental prices, we decided that we could manage this task by hand. Instead of turning over the entire strip we dug out a 2' x 2' square to a depth of about 1.5 feet for each rhizome hill. We mixed the removed soil with a combination of humus and manure and added this back into the holes creating a small hill. We created four of these spaced 8 feet apart.

In the first hill we planted a pair of Centennial hop rhizomes, in the second hill we planted a pair of Kent Golding hop rhizomes, in the third we planted a pair of jumbo (older and more established) Nugget rhizomes, and in the fourth we planted a pair of jumbo Mount Hood hop rhizmomes. The rhizomes need to be planted a couple of inches from the surface, with the buds facing towards the top of the soil.

Once all of the rhizomes were planted, they were given a good soaking. We covered the entire strip with mulch in order to keep down any weed growth and to help retain soil moisture through the summer.

Planting hop rhizomes

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

IPA all grain recipe for Saturday's brewday

This is one of my go to recipes. It makes a very simple, but quite tasty 5 gallons of IPA, and according to ProMash should produce an OG of 1.069, alcohol by volume of 6.5%, SRM of 15, and IBU of 67.

Grain Bill

  • 12 lbs. Pilsner Malt
  • 8 oz. Munich Malt
  • 8 oz. Cara-Munich Malt
  • 8 oz. 65○ L Dark Crystal Malt

90 minute mash @ 153 degrees Fahrenheit

90 minute boil


  • 1.5 oz. Centennial (bittering - 9o minutes)

  • 0.5 oz. East Kent Golding (bittering - last 15 minutes of boil)

  • 0.5 oz. Cascade (bittering - last 15 minutes of boil)

  • 1 oz. Cascade (aroma - last 3 minutes of boil)

  • 0.5 oz. Cascade (aroma - dry hop in secondary


  • White Labs WPL001 California Ale

I will try to get a jump on the brew day by getting a starter going tomorrow afternoon. Otherwise, I will pitch a double batch of the yeast.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Growing hops in the backyard this summer

I wonder how much growth we will get this year and how much we will get in terms of yield? We went back and forth regarding whether we should grow our first year hops in containers (transplanting them into the ground next year), or whether to start them in the ground now. In the end, we decided to to do both. Primarily, because in my excitement to order rhizomes, I must have ordered five types instead of the planned four. This left us with an extra pair of rhizomes to deal with, so those went into the planters.

I purchased five types of hop rhizomes from Freshops: Centennial, East Kent Goldings, Fuggles, Nugget, and Mount Hood. I purchsed a pair of each type, and the Mt. Hood and Nugget rhizomes were the jumbo variety. This just means they are older and larger rhizomes and will establish themselves quicker than the regular rhizomes.


  • Profile: Spicy, floral, citrus aroma, often referred to as Super Cascade because of the similarity; A clean bittering hop.

  • Usage: General purpose bittering, aroma, some dry hopping

  • Alpha Acid Range: 9 - 11.5%


  • Profile: Heavy, spicy, herbal aroma; Strong bittering hop

  • Usage: Strong bittering, some aroma uses

  • Alpha Acid Range: 12 - 14%

East Kent Goldings (EKG)

  • Profile: Spicy/floral, earthy, rounded, mild aroma; spicy flavor

  • Usage: Bittering, finishing, dry hopping for British style ales

  • Alpha Acid Range: 4.5 - 7%


  • Profile: Mild, soft, grassy, floral aroma

  • Usage: Finishing / dry hopping for all ales, dark lagers

  • Alpha Acid Range: 3.5 - 5.5%

Mt. Hood

  • Profile: Mild, clean aroma. One of three hops bred as domestic replacements for Hallertauer Mittelfrüh.

  • Usage: Finishing for German style lagers

  • Alpha Acid Range: 3.5 - 8%

(Hop variety descriptions from John Palmer's How to Brew)

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