Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Back To Homebrewing!

I'm back to homebrewing again, after a 3-month hiatus. I haven't brewed since early June! I brew outside, and we've had a very hot & humid Summer which was more conducive to passing-out from heat exhaustion, rather than brewing. The weather yesterday (on the Labor Day holiday) was perfect...80F was the hottest temp observed. I would have brewed on Sunday, also, but my back and left hamstring were injured severely on my last big running event. A few days ago, I couldn't even tie my own shoes, let alone do any of the tasks involved with homebrewing. (I'm much better, now).

Homebrewing Technical Talk:
I decided to brew a "Harvest India Pale Ale," using my crop of this year's hops from my back yard. Last year, I had enough hops for three 10-gallon batches of hoppy brew. This year, my hop crop sucked, because of the extreme heat and humidity, (but with little rain). Oh well, I still had enough hop flowers for a "brutal" addition to this IPA, which is a borderline Imperial IPA with a 1.072 starting gravity. (Imperials start at 1.075). I could have had a higher starting gravity, but I sparged more wort out of the mash tun's grain bed to try to get a higher pre-boil volume close to 14 (or so) gallons. All of the hop flowers suck-up a lot of water, and also the long boil time will evaporate-off a lot of H2O. I succeeded; the total wort volume was about 11-1/2 gallons post-boil, which will come out to be about 10 gallons final volume for the kegs, after time spent in primary fermentation, secondary fermentation, and conditioning.

My hop vines in the back yard are all intertwined, so I have no idea of hop variety or alpha-value specifics for this particular brewing session. All that I know is, there were these varieties in varying amounts that I added to the brew: Cascade, Centennial, Columbus, Willamette, Saaz...a regular "smorgasbord / potpourri" of hops. I love the element of surprise, when I'm brewing my annual harvest ale(s). Last year's version was magnificent!

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