During my first year living in the heart of the Pacific NW I brewed an embarrassing 2 batches of beer. Over the past 2 weeks, however, I have redeemed myself by whipping up 2 more batches of beer as well as 5 gallons of hard apple cider. For my first batch in many months I did a solo brew day and made an IPA with only hops I had grown this summer in my back yard. As you can see, the hop vines grow to about 15 ft and yielded a ton of hops for their first year in the ground. I kinda made up the recipe to be pretty straightforward, drinkable, but highlight the hops I had grown. Planning to dry hop this one once I put it in the keg: Homegrown IPA
One of my very best friend’s was visiting from Pheonix and had just brewed his very own for the first time. Naturally, I was very excited to share some of my experiences and bond over yet another thing we now had in common. We wanted to take advantage of the ridiculous stockpile of grains I had sitting in the closet so we chose a strong scotch ale recipe that called for over 17 lbs of grain for a 5 gal batch. I have the recipe with the actual ingredients used: Strong Scotch Ale (made some substitutions for what was available – original recipe found here) We messed up a little by using too much sparge water and ended up with about 6.5 gal of wort before the boil. Didn’t manage to boil off enough so the OG was a little low, 1.070 to the goal of 1.080. Planning on putting in a few oak chips when I transfer it to the secondary fermentor to give it a little extra scotch flavor. It was a ton of fun and we enjoyed tasting the last couple bottles of his first batch of home-brew as well as the last drops of my pumpkin porter from the winter.
Pressing apple cider was another brew related adventure while Mike & Mandy were in town. We spent a good 3 hours driving around town one afternoon, scouting apple and pear trees, and knocking on strangers doors to see if we could pick their trees. We found a number of residents who were more than willing since it meant less for them to clean up later. All in all we had a trunk full with easily over 500 apples. The next morning we rented a press and churned out about 6 gallons of fresh apple/pear cider. It was incredibly sweet and tasted even better for all the work we’d put in. We drank a ton of it straight off the press, saved a little, and threw cider yeast on the rest. While its not exactly a brew day, it is fermentation and it was awesome. Can’t wait to taste this in a month or 2!