Well, I finally had a chance to homebrew yesderday. I've been really busy in all corners of my life, so I've been aching to homebrew a new batch of beer. I brew outside, (in my driveway and garage). It was fairly hot and humid on Sunday, but bearable.
This time, I brewed a Belgian Saison. I like this style of ale, because I can really go nuts with it. For the primary base malt, I used a German malt that I've never used before...Turbo Pils (from Durst). It's highly-modified and perfect for single-infusion mashing. It worked well with the other ingredients, and my final gravity came out just right, at 1.070. I ended up using a home-spun Belgian yeast starter from my "resident yeast collection." I also tried a dash of a new (to me) spice, Galanga (from Thailand). I adjusted the amounts of my other spice additions: Grains of Paridise, Indian Black Malabar pepper, fine Indian coriander, and a skosh of Indian fennel. I'm not a huge spiced beer fan, but in incremental amounts, spices can really complement many Belgian-style ales.
My son stayed for most of the brew and helped out. While brewing, I also did a lot of other stuff during the "down times" of mashing and brewing. So much for just relaxing! I racked 10-gallons of my brown ale (finally) from the tertiary fermenter to kegs. It will be fully carbonated and ready to try, by this evening. I also installed some new outdoor lighting, did 3 loads of laundry, and some other yard chores. So when my wife came out to nag me and to try to make me feel guilty for "loafing around" all afternoon, I had the moral high ground. I didn't argue, or even let her know what I had completed; (I let her figure that out later). Instead, I casually dispensed an IPA from a keg in my garage fridge, sat down, smiled, and lit a big Fonseca cigar. She disappeared in disgust. My son and I clinked glasses. Mission accomplished!
Hops update: My hop plants on the back deck have climbed to the top of my pergola, and are advancing over the top of it. In two weeks, they have grown over 9 feet!!! Last year, I ended up using them in 3 batches of beer, culminating with a really nice harvest Imperial IPA.