Apr 21 2009

Quick Review: New Holland Golden Cap Saison

Occasionally, I’ll try to throw out a review of a beer I’ve had on draft, or while out and about. Sure, I’m a dork and take notes while I’m trying a beer, but it is harder to do so if you are out with the family or a couple of sheets into a long night. These will be quick reviews.

I found this one on draft at Timberwood last weekend. I was sitting down to an enchilada plate and had prepared to order an IPA to go with it, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to try this one despite the fact that a saison was not all that complimentary to the meal.

The New Holland Golden Cap Saison poured a golden amber with a medium white head. The aroma was made up of soft notes of coriander and spice. The first sip was lemon and more coriander with a touch of honey. The body was on the thin side, but that is to style and it made this one even more drinkable. The dry finish left me wanting more.

A very nice sessionable saison. Well, a much as you can session a 7% beer. This is just as nice a summer sipper as Bell’s Oberon. That is very high, although calendar specific, praise.

I’m impressed, and I’m psyched to get my saison brewing later this spring.


Apr 21 2009

I’m Done Homebrewing

…until the f’ing keggle is done.

I bought an old keg from Starr Hill last year, and I still haven’t gotten the top cut off and the nipples welded on in order to turn it into a brewing pot (or keggle). I’ve ordered the parts and hopefully I will get this done next week.

I currently brew with a 7 gallon aluminum pot, which has been OK for many years, but it doesn’t give me a lot room for error when brewing a 5.5 gallon batch, and it doesn’t have a spigot so I’m always having to lift the pot up or siphon to get the wort out of it. The conversion of the keggle will give me a 15 gallon pot, the ability to simply pour the wort out, I can weld a thermometer permanently into the side of the keggle, and I’ll have just about everything except for the March pump to make a whirlpool chiller later in the year.

We’ll see what difference the keggle will make to my batches. Changing an element in your brewing set-up can cause some profound changes in the final beer. I expect that the evaporation rate will be higher from the boil, and I will have to sparge longer than usual in order to have the volume to lose. But that might bump up my efficiency, too.

We will see, but I had to drawn a line in the sand. And if I *can’t* brew until the keggle is done, then it will get done. Soon.


Apr 17 2009

Home Grown Hops -Ready for the Trellis

If it has been a warm and rainy April, you need to check up on your hop plants.

Otherwise you walk outside one day to see this:

Those are my Nugget hops. I’ve had them for at least 7 years, and they come up each season without fail and with a vengeance. They look out of control, but it’ll only take me a few minutes to run the trellis strings back down to the ground, cut these shoots back to a few strong vines, and to train them up the first foot or so of string. Later on, I’ll add some more mulch, and then I’ll plant the marigolds around the trellis to ward off insects. I’ve had these hops so long, they barely need me. If they could, they’d probably push me away like a surly two year old until harvest time. Unless I had the hose with me, of course.

The interesting ones are the Cascade hops:

As you can see, they are running behind, which is fine because they are second year hops. I will finally get some cones from them this summer since they had all last year to establish their root system. I’ll have to compare and contrast to two hops as the spring turns into summer…..


Apr 16 2009

Brainstorming the Next Few Homebrew Batches

I’m scheming the next two batches, and I’m circling around a hoppy IPA and sour ale.

IPAs used to live in my wheelhouse. That was the one style I could nail all the time and every time. But the last two I’ve made just haven’t lived up to my expectations. That shit needs to change right freaking now.

This IPA is will be a hoppy affair. Hoptimization at its best. Jamil recently a did show where they were cloning Green Flash’s West Coast IPA. I’m looking that over and I might riff off that and make something along those lines. Maybe tweak the color a little. Maybe lead a bit more with simcoe.

Sour ales take forever to mature (I feel a name coming out of that. Maybe a Peter Pan reference….), so I just need to get that going so I can leave it alone and let it age. I’m thinking about a big sour like a Flanders Brown/oud bruin and then aging it on French wood that has been soaked in a darker wine. This is a good time to be thinking about it, too, since Wyeast is busting out the Brett strains from April to June. They are releasing Roeselare (the Godzilla of brettanomyces), their Trappist blend (an Orval strain) and the brettanomyces claussenii (low-intensity brett. character cultured from English stock ales.)

After that……I’m not sure. Definitely a saison, but those are best brewed warm (80+ degrees) and I will let the warmth of the summer help me with that. I’ve talked about making an Premium American Lager, too. Despite the fact I really, really dislike almost all commercial examples of that, I want to do it just for the difficulty of it. Honestly, brewing something like that seems *less* insane to me than the Coconut Curry Hefe.

Welcome to my world.