Friday, June 21, 2013

DIY Project: Hop Sprinklers

Last year I tried running a drip irrigation system on my hops.  I continually blew the cap off the end due to the pressure.  This year I wanted to install something a little hardier to water my hop yard.  My pastor is moving away and had a lot of 1" PVC pipe he was getting rid of and I was able to get nearly 30' of it.  My original design was to just run 40' and drill 1/16" holes in front of the hops and leave it above ground.  The UV light from the sun would eventually degrade the PVC, but the frost would burst it if there was any water in the line once Winter came.  

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Review: 3rd Place Pilsner

This beer has been a ride.  I started out with an overnight mash that dropped in temp quite a bit and smelled a little bit like a sour mash.  I thought for sure it would be ruined.  On brew day I thought I didn't have enough hops to brew it since I was missing the bittering hops I had planned on using.  I ended up swapping out for an older package of homegrown hops from a buddy that ended up not bittering the beer enough, and I had 1oz of Liberty and 2oz Saaz left over by the end and could've used them instead.  The hop strainer clogged shut on me rendering my pump useless and leaving the wort warmer than I had wanted for a lager.  It took nearly 2 hours to drain the 10 gallons of beer through the ball-valve with some creative positioning of the keggle.  Fermentation seemed a little sluggish to start.  The beer took forever to reach FG.  The hop aroma was very light.  The bitterness not pronounced.  The finish a little sweet, and not snappy like it should be.  My buddy who makes lots of lagers and Pilsners said the Munich made it too much like a Helles.  I ended up entering it in a BJCP competition just to get some feedback and was very surprised when it placed 3rd.  A few days ago I thought I had ruined it when my CO2 tank blew and I thought that oxygen had gotten into the keg and ruined the beer (it seemed a little off like an aging firkin beer, but not wet cardboard).  Surprisingly enough after a few days on CO2 again and a few burps of the keg, I finally reviewed it and found it to be okay (not oxidized).

Crystal clear!  You can read through this bad boy.  Pours a super clear pale gold with a thick white head that persists and then fades to a thick cap that stays throughout the entire glass leaving generous lace all the way down.  You can see how big each gulp is just by looking at the lacing.  Sparkles with tiny bubbles fluttering throughout.  This is the first beer I have made in 2.5 years of brewing now that has made me truly appreciate the power of how a beer looks when presented.

Light noble hops present over a sweet malt and a bit of toast.  Floral hops, elegant and light.  Hint of sulfur.  No DMS or diacetyl.

Starts with sweet malts and floral hops, lightly grainy.  Very low level of toasted bread.  Noble hops are low.  No DMS or diacetyl, sulfur from the nose is not evident in the mouth.  Bitterness is low.  Malty beer.  And no lactic twang at all from the drop in temp on the overnight mash.

Light body, creamy, semi-dry finish.  Doesn't snap on the finish like a Pilsner should.  Bitterness is very restrained, at times seems to linger a little but then fades quick.

It is a good beer, very beautiful, clean fermentation, no esters, light hops, elegant malt, would be a great Helles, but it is not a Pilsner (regardless of what place it took in the judging).  It is very quaffable, but not what I was hoping for.  As far as a Pils goes, it is too malty, the FG is good, but the maltiness and missing bitterness make it finish too sweet, and the hops aren't as pronounced in aroma, flavor, or bitterness as I would have liked.  I may save this recipe for a future Helles with a light tweek, but am shooting for an all new recipe for my next Pilsner (which I am hoping to brew very soon).

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Review: BANGARANG: Rufio (Imperial West Coast Red)

When I developed the recipe for this beer I was shooting for a deep red, bold, hoppy, malty, dry, yet balanced West Coast Red.  Big, flavorful, aromatic, dank, woody, fruity, sticky.  On almost all cylinders I got what I had hoped for.  The color (as with all of my reds) is too amber, not actually RED.  Other than that adjustment, the beer turned out great.  The Vienna base with Munich worked really well to give the beer a nice depth in the malt backbone that balances out the 112 IBUs, low FG, and higher alcohol.  Definitely a repeat recipe with a color tweek.


Pours a murky copper / amber with a thick and sticky tan head.  Head lasts for quite a while and eventually drops to a thick cap that persists all the way through the glass, leaving sticky lace througout.

Hops jump off the glass with grapefruit leading the charge followed by berries, resin, sticky hops, alcohol, and rounds out with a earthy/woody finish.  Malt is low.  Was hoping for more pine with the Simcoe and Chinook.

The taste follows the nose, lots of hoppy goodness, grapefruit, resin, pine, spicy alcohol, fruity.  There is an undefined malty backbone to support it all.  Touch of tropics in the background.  Again, low pine which is what I was hoping for.

For the low FG this beer actually has a fairly medium body, creamy, bitterness presents in the finish, but doesn't assault the mouth leaving it dead to all the flavor.  The alcohol warms the throat, but isn't hot at all.  Dry finish leaves you wanting another gulp.

Well balanced hop bomb.  There are lots of hops, complexity, good malt backbone to support the hops and bitterness, no raisins or plums which is typical of the style, but I am okay with that since I really don't like the flavor and aroma of dark fruits messing with my hops (the reason the recipe doesn't contain any crystal malts).  Alcohol is evident but no fusels.  Very balanced beer.  Color is too light, needs adjusting to get to the RED I am hoping for.  Might try to tweek the hops a little next go round to up the pine.