What we've been up to...
Friday, February 17, 2012 8:06 PM
I started growing hops out of "desperation". I put that in quotes because I began my brewing endeavors shortly before there was a world wide hop shortage. All of a sudden, hop prices soared and varieties I had come to love became unavailable. Something had to be done.
As could be expected, I wasn't alone in this thinking. Many other homebrewers were just as much in need of fresh hoppy goodness as I was. Through the forum HomeBrewTalk.com I was able to find hop growers that sold their extra rhizome cuttings. After several years of cultivating the hop vines, I have been able to brew a couple different beers.
This most recent concoction was a mixture of homegrown Cascade hops paired with commercial Simcoe hops. I used the commercial hops because it allowed me to more accurately control the bitterness of the beer. Past experience with my homegrown hops has taught me that they don't quite carry the punch they advertise. The amount of hops I put into the boll should have produced an overly bitter and blatantly hoppy beer. In actuality, it's light and effervescent with a citrusy hoppy finish.
An Apple a Day
Wednesday, January 04, 2012 8:23 PM
About this time every year, around every corner in the grocery store apple cider starts to become available. For all those aficionados out there, they all know that pasteurized cider isn’t really cider at all. The heating process used drives off all the aromatics and flavors that differentiate cider from plain old apple juice.
The north Georgia mountains are filled with apple orchards. Since I regularly ferment pasteurized, not from concentrate apple juice, I figured this year I would venture out and try to get my hands on some cider. The first attempt was through a friend. He was heading up to a pick apples with his wife and I asked him to see if he could get some “under the table” unpasteurized cider or at the very least UV-sterilized cider. Much to my dismay, the vendor there only had heat pasteurized so my buddy passed on it.
A few weeks later, another opportunity arose. My parents were planning a trip to Elijay, GA with some family friends and would be stopping by an apple orchard. I gave my parents the same instructions that I had given to my friend. While no bootleg cider could be found (damn you FDA), my parents were able to get their hands on 4 gallons of UV sterilized cider.
What I love about making ciders is how easy they are: sanitize carboy, pour in cider, add yeast, and cap with an airlock. While some people do like to ensure the apple cider itself is free of yeasts and bacteria, I do not want to sacrifice the fresh apple flavors that ciders possess. Generally ciders take about 4 weeks to fully ferment and for the yeast to fall out of suspension. Here you can see the final product.