2014 Hop Growing

June 17th, 2014 by scot
First full year Willamette hop plant.

First full year Willamette hop plant.

I have been logging my hop growing saga for the past few years: 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, typically with multiple entries. I have decided to try my hand at a 2014 update. Hopefully one of several (at least the harvest).

The cold weather in the are this winter gave me doubts on how well the plants would take off. The Mt. Hood was the early winner. It had one bine climb to 20 feet in a matter of week with the bine as thick as the rope that it is clinging too. This is the third full season for the hop and bar far the best. There are two other bines climbing their way up the rope as well. It is already starting to push out a few flowers for cones. I am contemplating nipping but I will probably just let it go as the cones are usually small from this plant.

Cascade, in it’s second full season, isn’t far behind. The strongest bine is close to 20 feet with two others very close behind. Last year this plant produced the best harvest. I hoping for another stellar crop for my second annual hoppy Saison late summer brew day.

Centennial, Mt. Hood and Cascade hop plants.

Centennial, Mt. Hood and Cascade hop plants.

Willamette, around the corner from the others and by itself, is a mere 10 feet tall but about what I expected from the first full season plant. A nice crop of this hop will add nicely to the Cascade hop additions.

Centennial has been my biggest bust. It typically seems to have an issue. Last year there were two with the second issue snapping the bines. They sure do dry up quickly once cut! This year, per typical, this plant is growing bunches of mini bines that I have to cut back, trying to coax two or three to stand out in the crown and grow. The two strongest bines are slowly approaching five feet. Needless to say I am not expecting much.

Four plants is the most my wife has allowed me to grow at one time. Excitement for the Cascade and Willamette will hopefully not be wasted. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: Nutella was invented during WWII, when an Italian pastry maker mixed hazelnuts into chocolate to extend his chocolate ration.

Tasted: TNBC One

February 4th, 2014 by scot
tnbc one

Bad pour, the beer wasn’t over carbonated.

Almost two months ago, I brewed the inaugural TNBC beer: TNBC One. It was to celebrate the last several plus years of friends getting together to share in American craft beer and home brews.

Unfortunately our schedules haven’t worked out and I have been “stuck” with 5 gallons of home brewed DIPA. I have been appreciating the beer for the better part of a month. The beer has developed, mellowing from both the hop and malt end, creating a more well balanced beer. Definitely not perfect…

Look: Slightly cloudy. Could be chill haze from proteins as I didn’t use Irish moss. Typical orange/gold color of most of my recent IPA offerings. The head is thick, frothing up as it recedes, leaving a sticky, web-like lacing behind

Aroma: Lots of hops. Citrus, floral and abundant. The malt is a bit more pronounced than expected: bread/biscuit.

Taste: The citrus and floral hops are muddled together. Neither is clear but believe that is assisted by the amber malt, confusing the palate by adding a huge mix of biscuity flavors.

Drinkability: Medium or better body but lower carbonation than I would have liked (in spite of the huge amount of head). Dry finish. Alcohol is not evident.

Overall: The hops are fantastic. The combination of the Citra, Amarillo and hopping techniques created a huge amount of flavor and aroma. In spite of this, the amber malt lends too much malt profile, bringing down the joyous celebration of hops.

I would brew the beer again but drop the amber malt down a few notches; 8 ounces at most. After the re-brew, I would check to see the brightness of the hop profile to see if that needed tweaking as well. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: During the time of Peter the Great, any Russian man who wore a beard was required to pay a special tax.

Das Boot

January 31st, 2014 by scot


Not the boot from Beer Fest but the one I received from my doctor a couple of weeks back, has placed a huge damper on my home brewing.

I hurt my foot while playing basketball. I didn’t roll but had some bad pain in both of my calf muscles. I woke up the next morning with a sore (a bit worse than that but painful seems too harsh) right foot. The arch, ball, ankle, just about the whole thing hurt. I limped to work and home. The following morning I woke up and had pain. Enough pain that I couldn’t walk on the foot. To the doctor.

I am entering my third week with the boot. The foot has slightly recovered. When I walk around without the boot, which is very limited, I can’t go fast, far or for long without good old pain creeping in to remind me that I am old and too fat to play basketball anymore.

Yeah, don’t cry for me. I will live but my home brewing has gone south. I can’t stand long enough to brew a batch. I am hoping to be back up and around in a few weeks. I have yeast wasting away that wants to have a smile put on its’ face while sinking into some sugary wort. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: Approximately half the money paid out by fire-insurance companies in the United States is paid for fire loss due to arson.

Brewed: Willaxy

January 4th, 2014 by scot
Adjusted Monster Mill to .035 since I was disappointed with the last crush.

Adjusted Monster Mill to .035 since I was disappointed with the last crush.

I enjoy spending time with my family during the holidays. This year I took the two weeks off to coincide my wife and kids being off work and out of school respectively. Typically during this time I brew 4 – 6 batches, mainly fermented with bugs. This year I decided to start working on the basement, leaving little time for home brewing.

With the end of my vacation quickly closing in, I decided to make a thrown together beer. I went to the basement to see what goodies might be available for making a pale ale or IPA. I knew there was plenty of 2-row, Munich and red wheat. Down to the basement (note to self: cellar sounds better than basement). I found a half pound of victory and a half pound of . The hops. The freezer. Willamette and Galaxy. Hmm. Sounds like an interesting mix. 4.0 ounces of each should do the trick, cleaning me out of both. The hops were split between first wort, whirlpool and dry hopping.

I wasn’t overly thrilled with the aroma as I brewed the beer. I thought the Galaxy would really grab me. I haven’t worked with Willamette. It wasn’t until I smelled the blow off that I really understood how well this combination of hops was going to be. Just a bit more time until I find out. Enjoy!

General Information:
Brew Date: Saturday, January 04, 2014
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: Safale S-05
Yeast Starter: none
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.0543
IBU: 57.0
Color: 5.1 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 5.2%
Fermentation: 1 day @64*F, 8 days @68*F, 6 days @64*F, 7 day dry hop @64*F

Grain Bill:
9.0# Two-Row
1.00# Red Wheat
0.50# Munich
0.50# Victory

Saccharification @151.9*F

Hop Bill:
2.00 ounces Wilamette first wort (treated as 20 minute addition)
1.00 ounces Galaxy first wort (treated as 20 minute addition)
1.00 ounces Wilamette whirl pool (treated as 30 minute addition)
1.00 ounces Galaxy whirl pool (treated as 30 minute addition)
1.00 ounces Wilamette dry hop (4 days)
2.00 ounces Galaxy dry hop (4 days)

1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 minutes


  • 2014-01-30: dry hopped with 2.0 oz Galaxy, 1.5 oz Wilamette

Useless Fact Alabama was the first state in the United States to officially recognize Christmas in 1836.

Brewed: TNBC One

December 7th, 2013 by scot

hops for tnbc one imperial ipa

Tuesday Night Beer Club was an invention of a few friends of mine. As each of our lives changed the club fell apart several years ago. I am by far not the reason it fell apart but my job changed, creating more travel for me. It was almost impossible to make the monthly journey a few months before it completely ended. As I dropped out, I realized I needed to have a fix.

I set up my own version of TNBC: Thursday Night Beer Club. Different night, different people but still centered around American craft beer. It didn’t exactly start out that official, it still isn’t. Rich and I were contemplating the idea of a web site, this one: twobeerdudes.com. We decided to get together on Thursday nights, occasionally. It gave my wife the ability to go work out, me a chance to watch the kids and for Rich and I to “discuss” the web site. Having a few American craft beers a couple times a month developed into most Thursdays and, at times, upwards of six guys (if our schedules can all fit). Every Thursday has been hosted at my house and most of the beer has been mine (helping to clean out the cellar from my crazy trading days in 2008 – 2009 (I still have a ton left). My kids, wife and few of her friends have joined us at times making for an interesting mix. Heck, one of my wife’s friends surprised us with her craft beer knowledge. Of course she walked home with a few home brews for her and her husband.

More and more home brew has crept in over the last couple of years as Chuck, Pat, Rich and myself have contributed malty concoctions of our own. Each memorable in some fashion. It was time to brew up an inaugural beer to commemorate this coming together of friends, family and beer. The idea of TNBC One was hatched. Something big, something hoppy (I have been craving hops lately), something memorable: Imperial IPA.

I wanted to use a malt I hadn’t used in the past, combined with outstanding flavor and aromatic hops, dry, while not ruining the palate for a week. I had been playing around with first wort hopping for a while, it was time to try out whirlpool hopping without any bittering additions. I wasn’t sure that amber malt belonged in an Imperial IPA but lack of other malts and low mash temperatures should keep the profile minimal.

TNBC is a great way to welcome in the weekend, a day early, with a few beers and, most importantly, with friends. Enjoy!

General Information:
Brew Date: Saturday, December 07, 2013
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: Safale S-05 (1.5 packets)
Yeast Starter: none
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.0543
IBU: 121.0
Color: 6.71 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 90
Mash Time (Minutes): 75
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 8.53%
Fermentation: 1 day @65*F, 6 days @68*F, 14 days @65*F, 7 day dry hop @64*F

Grain Bill:
16.0# Two-Row
1.00# Amber Malt
1.00# Cara-Pils

Saccharification @147.2*F

Hop Bill:
1.00 ounces Amarillo first wort (treated as 20 minute addition)
1.00 ounces Citra first wort (treated as 20 minute addition)
2.00 ounces Amarillo whirl pool (treated as 30 minute addition)
2.00 ounces Citra whirl pool (treated as 30 minute addition)
1.00 ounces Citra @10 minutes
1.00 ounces Citra @5 minutes
3.00 ounces Amarillo dry hop (7 days)
2.00 ounces Citra dry hop (7 days)

1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 minutes
1.0 tsp Irish Moss


  • 2013-12-28: dry hopped with 3.0 oz Amarillo, 2.0 oz Citra
  • 2014-01-05: bottled with 2.0 cups of water, 4.0 oz priming sugar (23 22oz, 1 16oz)
  • 2014-02-04: official tasting

Useless Fact: There are 240 dots on an arcade Pac-Man game.

Tasted: Mais Epice

November 9th, 2013 by scot

mais epice

The reason I brewed Mais Epice has a story behind it that I documented already. An official tasting has come after multiple tastes of the beer (typical of my write ups). If it wasn’t for my methodical ways, this beer probably would have received poor reviews, if I was in a good mood.

The first time I tasted the beer was only a week after bottling. Star anise. Star anise. Star anise. Yes, that’s what the beer became. The aroma and the flavor was dominated by star anise. I only used one whole star anise in the batch but it had kick. I dismissed that first tasting, thinking to myself that hopefully time will allow for the anise to drop out.

Fast forward almost two months. I tried the beer about a week ago, noticing how the anise had mellowed and the beer rounded out, balanced. I was much happier with the beer and it was time to share with friends.

Look: The beer has a pour perfectly clear,with a nice orange/gold color. The foam is a half-inch thick. The retention is about normal for a saison while there is barely any lacing.

Aroma: Saison phenols are nicely supported by the spice. Star anise, black pepper, slight bitter and clean, sweet orange layer.

Taste: Similar to the aroma, the base Saison comes through with a supporting cast that adds complexity. Star anise, pepper and bitterness all come in mid-to-late, lingering gently but not overwhelming.

Drinkability: Medium body. Medium carbonation at best. Tiny bubbles fill the mouth to aid in the body. Maybe not enough but the combination is fine for the beer.

Overall: A month has mellowed the star anise, creating a much more balanced and therefore complex beer. I can have one or two of these a week before it becomes to much for me.

I will be this again but not something that will ever make my “normal” rotation. Thanksgiving time might be the best time for this beer; brewing it 10 weeks or more before the date. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: Drinking a banana milkshake is a perfect cure for a hangover.

Brewed: Handicap

November 7th, 2013 by scot

handicap esb

I have never brewed an English style of beer. In fact I don’t drink them. I really haven’t given the group of beers any thought over the past 10 years. It has been very easy to bypass them as I wondered up the IPA trail. The style has never caught my fancy.

Why would I decide to brew up one? I have been trying to come up with ways to broaden the scope of home brews that I put forth and I was looking for something on the lower end of the alcohol spectrum but still had some character. I could brew an American pale ale, a blonde, a light IPA (just another way of saying APA), etc. I finally figured it out: give those English a bloody chance.

After doing an extensive search on the various styles of English beers, at the lower end, I settled on an Extra Special Bitter (ESB). I expected to brew a more malt forward version (light hopping) while bringing out the fruity esters of the yeast. Caramel and toffee flavors would be the goal while hop profile would come from US Goldings used minimally for balance. I didn’t know how I would like the lower suggested carbonation rates, drinking a beer in the mid-fifties has never been a problem. Enjoy!

General Information:
Brew Date: Saturday, November 07, 2013
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: Wyeast 1098 (British Ale)
Yeast Starter: 2.4 liter
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.051
IBU: 39.2
Color: 9.2 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 4.92%
Fermentation: 30 days @68*F

Grain Bill:
9.0# Maris Otter
1.00# Caramel 60L
0.50# Red Wheat

Saccharification @154.4*F

Hop Bill:
2.00 ounces US Goldings @60 minutes
1.00 ounce US Goldings @10 minutes
1.00 ounce US Goldings @1 minute

1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 minutes


  • 2013-12-08: Bottled, 1 750ml, 28 22oz, 3 16oz

Useless Fact: In space, astronauts cannot cry, because there is no gravity, so the tears can’t flow

Brewed: Duck Hook IPA – Kohatu

November 1st, 2013 by scot
Whirlpool hops with Kohatu hops.

Whirlpool hops with Kohatu hops.

I brewed my first batch of Duck Hook IPA last year. The line of beers is an ode to an individual hop each time I make the brew. I use 4.0 ounces of one hop: usually 2.0 ounces make the boil and the other 2.0 ounces are used for dry hopping. The day also included Chuck lugging his brewing equipment over to brew up a double batch, each with a different hop.

I have to admit that I made the beer so many times last year that I sort of lost interest: same base profile every time got a little stale, along with the fact that a few of the hops I used didn’t excite me all that much.

Fast forward to now: it has been more than a year since I brewed up a batch of Duck Hook IPA, I recently purchased some Kohatu hops, Pat tells me they are fantastic, time to play!

I used the base recipe that I have all along, I just changed out the regular wheat malt for non-malted wheat. It was a left-over from another brew day. The brew day was fantastic. I brewed on a Friday, as I took a vacation day (was originally to be used to go to Darkness), this means that I was at home alone. No kids, no wife, just my thoughts about brewing and a home brew or two to enjoy during the process. These factors allowed me to hit all my numbers while start to finish, inducing clean up, took a mere five hours. Enjoy!

General Information:
Brew Date: Friday, November 01, 2013
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: Safale S-05
Yeast Starter: none
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.064
IBU: 60.9
Color: 8.4 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 6.6%
Fermentation: 14 days @68*F, 4 day dry hop @66*F

Grain Bill:
11.0# Two-Row
1.00# Munich
0.50# Caramel 10L
0.50# Caramel 80L
0.50# Flaked Wheat

Saccharification @154.0*F

Hop Bill:
0.75 ounces Warrior @60 minutes
1.00 ounces Kohatu first wort (treated as 20 minute addition)
1.00 ounces Kohatu whirl pool (treated as 30 minute addition)

1.0 tsp Irish Moss @ 15 minutes
1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 minutes


  • 2013-11-03: Fermenting like mad (see short video above).

Useless Fact: Dr. Dre has made more money making headphones than he ever did making music.

Freezer for Temperature Control Part II

October 19th, 2013 by scot

running electric for feezer

Back in August I picked up a used freezer that I had plans on using for temperature controlled fermentation. The problem that I was facing: it sits at the opposite end of an unfinished basement from the electric panel. No current for juice.

Running conduit and wire has been something I had done in the past. That didn’t worry me. I had two empty 20 amp circuit breakers in the panel (remnants of a salt water tank), half the conduit already hung (once again from the salt water tank) and I had two spools of 12 gauge wire. I even had all the necessary connectors, plates, etc.

What was the issue? I didn’t have a pipe bender.

Time for a phone call to my Dad, the man with all the tools (and basically the one that has given my tools for my birthday every year for the past 20, but no bender). I convinced that my birthday gift would be him coming over with the pipe bender to spend some quality time in the basement, wiring up my fermentation freezer.

After three hours of work my freezer was plugged in, cooling away. Next up: temperature control for the freezer. Cleaning the house one weekend will probably be the edge I need to convince the wife I “need” such a device. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: 160 cars can drive side by side on the Monumental Axis in Brazil, the world’s widest road.

Brewed: Alpha Acid Aspirations – Hack

September 22nd, 2013 by scot

first runnings alpha acid aspirations hack

Alpha Acid Aspirations is a line of Imperial IPAs that I have been brewing. The goal is to make one for each letter of the alphabet but I am becoming a little disenfranchised with naming beers after events from my days as a caddy and golfing in general. A3 Blast is still the best beer I have made in this lineup, it featured Citra and Simcoe hops. Each one since has been more of an experiment with hop varieties and malt profiles with varying results. Making an “imperial” style as a playing ground can get expensive in all resources.

A3 Hack is no different. I had Nelson Sauvin and Pacific Gem lying around for over year, it was time to use that eight ounces of hops for good (hopefully). The main twist here is Melanoiden malt.

I have to admit the inspiration for this aspiration came from the fact that Three Floyds uses this malt in a few of the beers. I really like their beers, as do many, in spite of the shitty attitude you get from them when you go to their pub. I really didn’t know how much to use or understand the profile of the malt. I did know that Melanoiden can be a “powerful” malt. Care is needed. Therefore, I figured around 5% of the grain bill should be about right. The one pound ended up at 5.9% – that should be within reason.

Since I only needed to add 4.0 gallons of water to the mash while sparging, I decided to add the water all at once instead of two batches. I feel that hurt my efficiency. Other than that, brewing a big IPA always gets me excited: handling and smelling the hops is very satisfying. Enjoy!

General Information:
Brew Date: Sunday, September 22, 2013
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: East Coast Yeast 29 – North Coast Ale
Yeast Starter: 2 liter
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.072
IBU: 60.9
Color: 8.4 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 6.6%
Fermentation: 28 days @68*F, 5 day dry hop @66*F

Grain Bill:
15.0# Two-Row
1.00# Melanoiden
1.00# Redd Wheat

Saccharification @150.9*F

Hop Bill:
1.00 ounces Nelson Sauvin first wort (treated as 20 minute addition)
1.00 ounces Pacific Gem first wort (treated as 20 minute addition)
1.00 ounces Nelson Sauvin whirl pool (treated as 30 minute addition)
1.00 ounces Pacific Gem whirl pool (treated as 30 minute addition)
2.00 ounces Nelson Sauvin dry hop
1.50 ounces Pacific Gem dry hop

1.0 tsp Irish Moss @ 15 minutes
1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 minutes


  • 2013-09-23: very active fermentation, temperature at 74.4*F.
  • 2013-10-15: dry hop with 2.00 ounces Nelson Sauvin, 1.50 ounces Pacific Gem
  • 2013-10-20: bottled – 3.70 ounces priming sugar, 2.0 cups of water. 25, 22.0oz and 1, 16.0oz. Final gravity: 1.022 (seems high – could this be the Meladoiden and/or the yeast?)

Useless Fact: The average garden variety caterpillar has 248 muscles in its head.

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