Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hop Trellis

Yesterday I finally finished building a hop trellis in the backyard.  This would not have been possible without the help of my lovely assistant, Mel.  About a month ago I ordered a few hop rhizomes to grow my own hops.  I ordered nugget, cascade, and willamette hops.   I am super excited about getting the hops planted and eventually being able to make beers with them.  The trellis is just over 10' tall at its highest point and is in an "L" shape around the garden.  The long side being 16' and short side is 8'.  The most difficult part of the build was by far digging the post holes.  The soil here is almost entirely clay and I live on the side of a hill, so digging the holes deep enough took a lot of effort and time.  They were dug approximately 3' into the ground using nothing but a couple of $5 shovels bought from the lawn and garden section of a local grocery chain. The first shovel broke after getting halfway down on the last of the four holes.  I promised myself I wouldn't buy another cheap shovel, but I did so anyway to stay on budget.

The trellis is now ready to give the soon-to-arrive hops a happy place to climb.  It also provides some much needed shade from the Texas sun for the garden.  There is still some work to be done providing a better soiled footing for the rhizomes, and I plan on adding a bench on the end for a good place to sit by the garden while adding some extra support to the long side of the trellis.  For the time being however, the build is done!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

New Beginnings...

It is the start of a new year!  It has been 4 or 5 months since I last posted to this blog, but as usual I will play a bit of catch-up.  I haven't made too many beers in the last few months, and there are many excuses (temporary alcoholic psycho roommate, seasonal job loading trucks/helping deliver packages at UPS, spending as little money as possible, etc).  I have been a part of a couple of brews a friend made (in as far as it was mostly brewed on my equipment and I have been drinking a lot of the end-product).  At the start of this month I did make one beer that would be normal to any one else. 

This beer has been dubbed "Moving Day Dark Ale" (or MDDA) and is exactly that.  I assembled enough ingredients from the left-overs on my shelves and had a go at a 6.5%ish stoutish porterish kinda thing.  This was about as far as the knowledge of the ingredients goes as well.  I learned I need to do a better job labeling.  MDDA likely has about 1.5 pounds of flaked oats, half a pound of black patent, half a pound of chocolate malt, and a total of two pounds of various crystal malts, biscuit, special B, maris otter, and a few others.  All this was supplemented by a few pounds of dried malt extract, which was half light, a quarter amber, and a quarter dark.  The only ingredients I had to buy were a couple of ounces of willamette hops and a pack of yeast.  I procrastinated a bit on bottling and instead filled my keg.  There isn't room for a keg in our fridge so instead it goes outside on cold nights for its momentary enjoyment. 

The reason for this supply eater of a beer was to make a move a little easier.  The same goes for the use of a keg instead of bottles... It is much easier to move one 5 gal keg than a bunch of bottles not to mention the keg can get rolled around in the back of a moving truck.

New Orleans has been a wonderful city.  I found myself planning my beers out more than ever while living there.  In part this is due to the insanely hot summer days.  It is a real challenge to find a cool spot in an old shotgun style house when it is 100+ degrees outside.  The city has a lot going for it.  With NOLA Brewing, Avenue Pub, and all the start-ups that are likely to pop up in the coming year, it will be a great destination for brewers and enthusiasts alike to visit.  There is a great thing about New Orleans and its people; everything is done with just a bit more flare.  I can't wait to try out a recipe for a Cajun IPA or Creole Triple.

That said, where did I move? AUSTIN, TEXAS! well, Round Rock, but it is pretty much AUSTIN!

I have returned to a city where beer is held in high regard.  The homebrew stores are bigger as are the beers.  There are a lot of micro-breweries and brewpubs.  There are stores for beer, wine, and spirits bigger than my old high school's gym.  It is a great place to learn more, and I really hope to use it as such.  I am making an effort to make more beers here.  Not just more beers, but also to fine-tune a few of my favorites and enter more competitions.  Also, after I figure out what my work schedule will be like, I will join a local homebrew club to learn from its members and meet some fellow brewers.  I am quite excited to get going here.

I have the ingredients for my first beer to be made in my new home.  Its is a Rogue Brutal Bitter kit with a few hop substitutes and improvements.  I will be able to do it as soon as I locate the rest of my brewing supplies currently still in boxes.  Pictures of everything will be added in a few days after I figure out where things are and muster up some will-power to unpack more.  Until then, have a good one.