Saturday, April 5, 2008

Back to posting

Been away for a little while, sorry about that. I've been thinking a lot about the blog, just not posting. I feel as if I've almost been hyping up each entry in my mind before it gets written, instead of just sitting down and sharing the recent news. I'm going to try this more personal approach and see if it can't lead to some more content.

First, an update on the brewing since early March. We've brewed two beers, an ESB and an Imperial Pale Ale. The most fascinating thing to report about this is we used the same yeast for both beers. When shopping for ingredients for the ESB (Grand Teton Brewing Bitch Creek ESB clone) we decided to try a special yeast that had come in. This was the Pacman yeast, formulated by Wyeast specifically for Rogue. It was a mutation of the strain that was called for in the recipe, so it was only a slight change. Anyway, when racking this beer the following week, Kat used directions she found online to reuse the dormant yeast for our Imperial IPA (I'll post them when I can find them). I think it took a little longer for the yeast to take off than the full package, but once it got going it was aggressive. We racked it just a few days ago and it smells great. Looking forward to that one.

We've also finally sampled many of our batches. Here's a rundown of all the drinkable brews we have so far, and our thoughts.
  • Brown Ale (Bob's Homebrew) - Full flavored malt with mellow hops. We couldn't believe how great this was for our first attempt, and neither could many of our friends. Supposedly dark maltier beers like this age better than the hoppier pale ales, so this could be really amazing later on.
  • IPA 1 (Dogfish Head 60min clone) - This one took longer than we expected (although now feel that 4 weeks in a bottle is required), but was a great blend of hop character. We actually compared this to a bottle bought from the brewery. The flavors were very different, most likely due to the yeast in the recipe not available. But as stand alone beers, we both agreed we'd prefer to drink our homebrew over the actual beer. We'll probably try our version of the recipe again, with a few modifications.
  • Red Ale 1 (Red Tail Ale clone) - This beer is disappointing and turned out pretty bland. It's a drinkable beer, just not very exciting, with no real noticeable hop or malt character. We wouldn't brew this recipe again.
  • Pliny the Elder clone - Originally we titled this as a double IPA, but I don't really think that applies to this beer. This thing is a hop sledgehammer, as the aroma and bitterness clobbers you in the face. We've only tried it a couple of times, and saving the majority of this batch for next weekend, my birthday. It probably will have have mellowed just enough by then.
  • Porter 1 (Avery New World Porter clone) - Our second dark beer turned out just as good as the first, and maybe better. This thing is fantastic, subtle hints of chocolate and a nice hop aroma. Very smooth and drinkable. We'll use this recipe as a framework for future porters I'm sure.
  • IPA 2 (Lagunitas IPA clone) - We had high expectations for this beer and they have held up. This has a very nice flavor with a bite of hops at the aftertaste. We held the IPA challenge last night between this beer and our first IPA, and this one was decided the champ.
We've got the Rye bottled as well, but it won't be ready for another two weeks. The ESB will get bottled this weekend, and the Imperial was dry-hopped on Wednesday. We probably won't do much more homebrewing until I can get working again. Yeah, that's right, I am officially unemployed as of April 1st. At least I don't have to worry about buying beer. We do have a surplus of left-over ingredients, so there might be a brewday or two still left this spring.

I'd also like to mention an awesome rafting trip we went on last weekend. We joined our friends Paul and Matt down on the Wind River, near Carson, WA. This is a serious class IV+ run with long stretches of continuous whitewater and some BIG drops. Definitely the toughest paddling trip of the year. We had great runs both days. Saturday was cold with snow in the morning, but a dozen determined rafters still went down. Both boats flipped at the same place on the run, but fortunately after the toughest stretch and we recovered in a reasonable time. Sunday's weather was surprisingly nice with the sun following us almost the entire trip. I managed to get thrown from the raft, but nobody else did. You know, I should talk to Matt about that.

The only problem with the Wind River is the camping. In years past, we've always camped out right at the take-out, which is nothing more than a muddy parking lot. It's always wet and cold, not to mention the lack of decent tent sites. I told Kat a few weeks before the trip, "I really want to raft this river, but I am not camping in that spot." We decided to get a motel in Stevenson Saturday night, which really made all the difference for the weekend. Our friends that were staying overnight also decided to join us, and we had a hilarious night hanging out in town. One of our favorite small breweries, Walking Man Brewery is in Stevenson, so we sampled many of their beers, and tall pints of the Homo Erectus, their Imperial IPA (such a tasty brew). I splurged and picked up a T-shirt as well.

I'll post more, I swear. Cheers!

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