Monday, August 31, 2009

2009 Hop Picking Extravaganza

Ok...maybe not that extravagant, but fun anyway. Only a few cones, but I'll dry and store them anyway and use them to finish the Pumpkin Ale....

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Research - Albany Pump Station

So we had to do some research at the Albany Pump Station. C.H. Evans Brewing. Here are some photos. How about that sampler!

Excellent food. Excellent Beer. Highly recommended.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Foothill Farms - Hops in New York State

I visited Foothill Farms today. Foothill Farms is the first commerical hop farm in the area for over 50 years. Larry Fisher talked to me for a while and showed me around. Larry and Kate have a nice hops farm and brewshop in Munnsville,NY. It is about 45 minutes from Cooperstown, which makes it about 2 hours from Albany.

Larry talked to me about his picking machine and hop separater. He has been in the hops business since 2001. Quite a nice operation. He has 12 varieties of hops. 8 of the varieties are Certified Organic.
He sells the hops to both homebrewers and professional brewers. The hops are available on his website at:
Right now he has mostly leaf hops, but is starting up a pelletizer and will have them available as well. If you are in the market, I suggest you call or email Foothill. (ps. this is not a paid advertisement).
AND as I discovered after I returned home, Larry is the President of the Northeast Hop Alliance. They are working on re-establishing commercial specialty hop production in New York and the Northeast.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Brewery Tour - Cooperstown Brewing

I took a tour this afternoon. Cooperstown brewing produces 40,000 gallons of beer a year!!! They grow their own hops to add to their IPA. Cool tour. Great Beers!

Hops in Cooperstown

I checked in on my hops today. I hadn't seen them since July 4th. The first year, the hops grow good roots and only get 8-10 feet high. Well mine did all of that. They have a few cone, but not as many as will be expected next season. These are cascade.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bottles, etc

So I had my parents pick up some "miscellaneous" bottles, etc I picked up off craigslist. Sounded like a pretty good deal at the time. Well, I got here today. It was a great deal.

23 - 1 liter ez cap bottles (with 3 custom wooden boxes to hold them)
24 - 1/2 liter ez cap bottles.
1 - tap a draft system. (with 4 - 6 liter bottles)
2 bottling buckets
hoses, fittings, brushes, doo-dads, etc.

The bottles will hold a batch (almost 2), tap a draft another so I gotta get brewing because now I have bottle capacity!

Best $50 I've spent in a while!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Moved the Amber to Secondary

I moved the american amber to secondary fermentation. I'll let it rest, clear and mature there and bottle it when I get back from Cooperstown.

Hefeweizen bottling

We bottled the Hefeweizen this morning. First bottling went pretty smoothly. Prepped the priming sugar, siphoned into bottling bucket and then bottled. Moved the bottles to the conditioning room
where they will age for a couple weeks before being ready to drink.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Amber and Hefe testing

I checked the progress on both batches this morning. Hefe came back at 1.010. That is unchanged from the last reading and it is clearer today. The Amber I tested for the first time and it too was 1.010. That puts the Alcohol by Volume at about 4.5 (4.45 actually) It is still bubbling, but less than once per minute.

Hefe is clearly ready to bottle and I could also bottle the amber, but think I will put it in a secondary container to let it clear more before I bottle it.

Tasted both. Good. Obviously the amber is hoppier, but both are good. Carbonation should add to the character....

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Craigs list Cooker

I found a bargain outdoor cooker on craigs list to use as my brewing stove. It should help get a better boil and gets me out of the kitchen!!!

Ok, folks...go ahead....give it to me. Yep, Phil's got a turkey fryer...ok...ha ha ha. BUT, the fryer, all the accessories and a tank for $20! Will give it a test drive before the next brew day.

Scored a bunch of 1/2 liter Fullers pride bottles. Eventually 120 in total! They are heavy, distinctive and.....FREE!

No change in the brews today. Hefe is sitting. The Amber is one bubble a minute. I'll take a gravity reading tomorrow and bottle and rack on Saturday if the numbers are stable.

Brewing Update & Hops info

So the Hefeweizen is ready to bottle, but the Amber is still fermenting at a slow pace. I was hoping to bottle the hefe and rack the Amber kinda in the same timeframe.

I will sample and test the hefe gravity again today to make sure we are ready. Bottling either tonight or tomorrow.

Amber may wait until saturday to rack.

Traveling on Monday and be away from the brewery for a few days. I will eventually have a chance to see (and hopefully harvest) my cascade hops in Cooperstown.

I am working on expanding hops production, either in the same place of nearby larger area. Hope to have 4 or 5 varieties in the ground next year.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Beer Class follow-up - Designing Craft Beer

Whoaaa! Ok, I'm a new brewer, but I have studied up quite a bit, or so I thought.

The class was great, BUT, most of it was tailored to "professional" brewers. Even advanced home brewers were glassy eyed at times!

I did get some info about beer coloring, yeast and hops.

Well, let me put it this way. There were molecular diagrams in the hand out.

American Brewmasters provides some great classes. This one may make sense for me in a year....but for now it was too much.

I prefer the "relax, don't worry, have a homebrew" approach and will worry about my water's PH and such when I get into all grain, etc.

Worth the $, but, ouch, can I get a do-over in a year?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

First Final Gravity on Hefe

Since the Hefe has stopped fermenting, I took an initial final gravity reading. I will take another tomorrow to see if it is done.

Original gravity: 1.052
1st final: 1.010
difference .042
ABV factor x 131
Estimated ABV 5.5% Estimated Alcohol by volume.

I also tasted's good. No carbonation yet, but good.

May let it settle until friday or saturday to bottle.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Another Fermentation Update

So the Hefeweizen seems to be still. The Amber is still going, but slowing.

I will take a gravity reading tomorrow, Wed and probably be bottling the wheat on Thursday.

Still think I'll end up racking the amber to secondary by friday or saturday.

Advanced class - Designing Craft Beers

Tomorrow night is the next advanced class. Designing craft beers. This one might make my head hurt.

We will "learn how your ingredients and your process affect your finished beer"

Some fellow brew folks will be joining the fun this time. Should be interesting.

More info:

Hefeweizen Videos

4 Part video of the Hefeweizen brewing.

Fermentation Update

So the Hefe has slowed considerably and looks to be finishing up. I'll check again tomorrow and then start testing the gravity.

Amber is still purculating.

Have enough bottles for the Hefe and I have a large supply upstate for the amber. Thanks to all who helped empty the full bottles to provide the empties!!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Beer, Bourbon and BBQ Festival

Great Festival again this year. Lots of great beers and bourbons to taste. Weather was super and folks were nice.

Additional photos on Picasa. Follow the link below.