Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Help me brew

Homegrown hops from my front yard!

I am finally starting to settle in to my new home in Spokane, Washington. I've started to rent a house and, to my surprise, the previous tenant had quite the green thumb! Among other things, I now have spearmint and hops growing in my yard! I've finally begun to unpack my belongings and my brewing setup is aching for some fresh wort.

But I'm at a crossroads of brewing. I haven't brewed in so long (about 7 months) that I have an abundance of ideas and seemingly little time to implement them. Let's start with the basic ingredients I have on hand:

50# American two-row barley malt (base grain)
5# Munich 10L malt (specialty grain)
5# Crystal 40L malt (specialty grain)
5# Carapils malt (specialty grain)

1# of “Spokane” Goldings whole hops (homegrown, unkown AA%)
3oz Amarillo hop pellets (8% AA)
3oz Summit hop pellets (18%[!] AA)
3oz Saaz hop pellets (2.5% AA)
1oz Hallertau Select hop pellets (2% AA)

Whitelabs WLP001 California Ale Yeast (a very clean all-purpose strain, I usually use it for APAs and IPAs)
Whitelabs WLP028 Edinburgh Scottish Ale Yeast (cooler fermenting, maltier strain. I usually use it for stouts, porters, scotch ales, and English ales)

Here are some ideas I’ve been throwing around:

1) Harvest Pale Ale: Using the Amarillo (my personal favorite hop) for bittering and flavor additions and “wet-hopping” with fresh-from-the-vine goldings hops. The Goldings would be used for aroma hops and for dry-hopping. This would be a 5%-6% abv pale ale with a huge hop nose. I would shoot for 35-45 IBU.

2) Mild Ale/Bitter/”Blonde”/Golden Ale/Cream Ale: A milder, easier drinking beer that is quaffable enough to not scare my small group of inland NW friends away from the joys of homebrewing. I would still use the homegrown hops for late kettle additions and dry hopping. I would shoot for 15-20 IBU, 4.5-5.5% abv ale.

3) Winter Ale: A 2008 vintage of the winter ale I did last year . This year I would tweak the recipe and include fresh spearmint leaves late in the boil instead of (or in addition too) the juniper berries I used last year. Scottish yeast strain for 6%-7% abv and about 25 IBU.

4) Belgian Golden Ale (with apple juice): A high-gravity Belgian ale fermented with a fresh apple juice for added complexity and strength. I’d use a Belgian strain of yeast and shoot for a 7.5%-8.5% abv ale with 15-20 IBU.

I may try and re-use my yeast over the course of three batches. Start out with the mild ale, then use that yeast cake on the harvest pale, and finally finish off with a winter ale.

More on re-using yeast in a future post.