Friday, May 31, 2013

In the Garden: Memorial Day Weekend edition

Memorial Day weekend is always fairly relaxed in our family. This year, I spend a majority of it tending the garden. The pepper plants I bought down in San Diego are chugging along, and I can't wait to taste the fiery death each plant will give me - Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, Carolina Reaper, and a Chocolate 7 Pot, the 3 hottest chili plants in the world (for now).

The hops are doing extremely well - in fact, I'm already getting burrs, which means I may be harvesting my first round of cones sometime in July. Other than that, not a lot of homebrew news to report - the quad is in the barrel and the sours I brewed last year are almost ready to bottle.
I spent all day Sunday smoking a tri-tip and pork shoulder, along with a couple habaneros that I intend to dry and make into smoked habanero powder for seasonings.
Look at that smoke ring!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Hops on the rise.

Last month, I planted out an additional 4 hop rhizomes in the garden to bring the total up to six. Well, all but one of them - the Neo1 - have broken ground and are on their way to being productive plants.

The cascade and centennial hops I planted last year are going crazy and have almost reached the top of the roof, a feat they didn't accomplish until July of last year - so I may see an early harvest if things continue. They would likely have already reached the roof if not for a few days of cold, rainy weather this week.

Some more pictures after the break.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Update: Brandy Barrel Quad

A lot has happened in the past month - two weddings, a vacation, and some overtime at work - so now that life is beginning to get back to normal, it's time to address some of the things that have been going on since my last post.

Since brewing my 'super quad' (or a quintupel - call it what you will) two months ago, it's been a rather uncooperative beer. After an explosive fermentation over the first two weeks, as I gradually ramped the temperatures up into the high 80's, eventually it seemed to stall out.

Swirling and ramping the temp to the 90's had little effect, and after several reading over a 2-week period, I concluded the quad had, in fact, stuck at 1.044. What was I to do? Now don't get me wrong, I like malty beers, but I was aiming for a sweeter-than-style quad to stand up to the barrel aging, not syrup.

So, after consulting some friends I concocted a plan. Over the course of a weekend I built up a trillion cell starter of WLP-099 Super High Gravity Yeast, using progressively stronger wort each time - the final round using 1.050 wort mixed with a liter of the stuck quad. Once it reached high krausen I acclimated it to higher ABV with some vodka added gradually over the course of an hour, and then pitched the entire, massive starter into the quad. Two weeks later and the quad is now down to 1.033. If I can get it into the 1.020's I'll consider it a success.