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Matt must have gotten sick of me drinking all his awesome home brew. He kept hassling me to start doing my own ones. He even had a spare fermenter and a bit of other gear that I could borrow. I grabbed a wort Kit from the Hop Dog BeerWorks at South Nowra. Basically its the beer wort all ready to go, simply pour it into the fermenter, add any finishing hops you want, then throw the yeast in the top. I tried a Golden Ale and put some extra hops in for good measure. After a couple of weeks it was ready to bottle. So another 2 weeks and it'll be ready to taste. While all this was going on Matt and I got all excited about growing our own hops. So we bought a few rhizomes from a hop farm in Victoria, and put them in the ground. Lets see what happens. The Golden Ale was ready at the end of August, and it was really nice. Very happy with my first up effort.
The first signs of action with the hops. Little shoots have started to poke up. The instructions say to remove the first few, and then leave the 3rd one to get going up. I stuck some long tomato stakes in the ground to get something for them to grow up too. Might have to get something bigger if they outgrow these ones. They're going very well and getting tall fast!
Early November my ESB Red IPA (with a big wodge of Cascade hops) was ready for tasting. Very, very hoppy, but oh so tasty. I loved it. The only issue was that the bottles seemed to want to fizz over any time you opened one, or when pouring. Not sure what went on there. But I need to get another of these wort kits cause its delicious. Matt has got his all grain brew set up finished too so I went over to see how it all works. He's a clever man that guy, and we whipped out a brew. Can't wait to taste the experiments from this set up. I bottled my next batch of Hop Dog Session IPAs too.
Early December the latest HopDog IPA batch was ready for sampling. Very nice again, but still not as good as the Red IPA from last month. The hops are growing very well with shoots bursting out all over the place. I'm trying to keep cutting the lower ones off, but they grow so fast. The taller ones are shooting up the twine though, growing super fast. I really need to get a bigger trellis system sorted, cause they've gone beyond my temporary tripod arrangement.
Throughout January the bines have started to bud up and then later in January flowers started appearing. Mainly on the Hersbrucker, the other two seem to be a bit behind, or maybe they're not going to deliver this first year. Will have to wait and see.
12 February 2015
The fruit is slowly getting bigger. I think I'll leave it for a little bit yet so they can hopefully get a bit bigger and so the smaller ones can catch up. Not sure how many I'll end up getting off this one, but it'll be way more than the other two. So in anticipation of picking, I had more of a read of the internet and thought I'd whip up a dryer. Just a few boxes and some flyscreen mesh stapled on. Stuck some legs on and done. Need a bit of a steady fan to blow air gently up from underneath, just to keep the air moving over the hops.
16 February 2015
On the same night I whipped up the dryer I headed over to Matts for a few of his fine beers. And about 10:30pm we decided to pick his Cascade hops as they looked nice and ready. We got what looked like a decent bag full, leaving a few of the smaller ones on the bine. I threw them in the top tray and had enough to cover it. Not too bad for a 1st year harvest when we were expecting none. There were some big suckers in there too, very impressive. After reading a bit on the internet I weighed out 100g of wet hops and put them in a separate bag. This was my control batch to determine how dry they were. 20% was the number talked about. So I left them for 2 full days, weighing my sample batch along the way. When it got to 20g Sunday morning, it was time to bag. Used Trev's vacuum sealer which worked really well. Did them in 25g lots (the last one went to 31g) so a total of 181g all up. Now to get another brew kit so I can chuck these ones in and see what happens.
19 February 2015
The fermenter has been sitting about doing nothing for too long. So I went and grabbed another Wort Kit from Tim at HopDog. A Chinook Pale Ale this time. Wonder what that will taste like. For good measure I threw in 51g of our Cascade hops that were dried and bagged last Sunday. Will be interested to taste that one in a month or so. So wort kit in, hops bagged and thrown in, yeast on top, sealed up and stuck in the linen cupboard (coolest place in the house on the hot days). Its bubbling away nicely now.
23 February 2015
Friday I decided it was time to pick the Hallertau Hersbrucker hops. Stripped all of them off the bine, even the slightly smaller ones. Looks like Matt well and truly won the yield race, I was lucky to fill the tray and had 275g of wet hops. Dried them over the weekend using the little fan under the drier. Were all good by SUnday, but took me till Monday to get the vacuum sealer off Cobby. Managed 3 bags worth, 2 @ 25g and one at 39g, so 89g all up. About half of Matt's yield. Still, I'll get one brew out of this lot.
1 March 2015
I bottled the Chinook Pale Ale on Sunday. Managed 2 cartons of 330ml, plus one 6-pack. And picking up my next wort kit on the Saturday (a Hop Dog Australian/NZ IPA) Matt from HDBW suggested that I re-pitch my yeast. Basically save the layer of gunk at the bottom of the fermenter into a plastic bottle, settle it out overnight, pour off beer on top, then reuse the yeast mixture in the next brew. So into the fermenter went the IPA, it smelled fantastic as it was poured into the fermenter. I also stuck 40g of my Chandler hops that I'd picked and dried over the last day or so. Then in with my yeast suspension. The thing was tucked away and is bubbling away excellently. Can't wait to try this one.
Another favourite thing at the moment is to grab a few hop flowers and throw them into the glass when having a red ale. Makes it bloody tasty, but a shame that the flowers are all gone now.
13 March 2015
The last of my hops were picked. The middle plant only ended up with 8 flowers on it, so I picked the lot and threw them in a glass. Filled it with a Red Ale, which was lovely. Then the other night I had to see what the Chinook PA was like. Verdict is very nice indeed, must be those home grown Cascade hops :) I grabbed another wort kit from Hop Dog last Saturday too, a Robust Porter, just so I'm ready for another brew when the Oz/NZ IPA is done. And its probably good and ready to bottle now too, so that better be a job for this weekend. I filled my Growler today too, with the Hop Dog Massive Otter. Keen to see what this is like.
18 March 2015
Monday morning I had no internet, so rather than waste the time I decided to whack the Australian/NZ IPA into the bottles. All into the long necks and tucked up in the shed for a couple of weeks. Then today I chucked the Robust Porter into the fermenter. Added ~50g of Columbus hops, 50g of Cascade hops and 25g of the Hallertau ones (note to self, read the bag properly before cutting it open!). I re-pitched the yeast again, so the 3rd time in for this yeast. The colour and smell of the wort was amazing, can't wait to have a taste of it.
5 May 2015
I think I missed a brew or 2 in April. I did a HopDog Amarillo Rye Amber Ale, just straight with no extra dry hopping. Used fresh USO5 yeast from Tim as well. Then mid April I did another of the Australian/NZ IPA and re-pitched the yeast from the Amber Ale. I think that takes us up date, I must keep track of things a bit closer. Once May came around I put down a HopDog red ale, and used the last of the home-grown hops up.
1 June 2015
Again, I've missed pics of bottling the Red Ale. That was done a week ago. Hopefully its ok, I forgot the heat belt one time and it got a bit warm, then was busy 2 weeks in a row so it stayed in the fermenter for a week or so longer than it should. But got a good 2 cartons out of it, so will see how it tastes. I'm getting a good collection of beers together now. Heaps of the Porter left, some Rye Amber Ale, Oz/NZ IPAs, and the Red Ale will be ready next week too. I grabbed an ESB Amarillo Pale Ale from the brew shop last time I was there. That will be ready to bottle next week too. Interested to see how that tastes. I have another of the HopDog Rye Amber Ales to put down too.
The main plan this weekend just gone was to get our new hop plants into the ground. Matt and I bought 4 new rhizomes, Chinook, Nugget, Mt Hood and Fuggles. I got the Chinook and Nugget, put them in the ground next to the others. Then when dropping Matt's couple off to him he'd dug his old Cascade and Pride of Ringwoods up, so he gave me some of them. They went in the ground down the hill. So we've got a nice hop farm going on down there. Hopefully they'll be loaded with flowers come Feb next year. Had to whip up a mud-map to keep track of them too. Next plan is to get the spare water tank hooked up and plumbed down to the garden.
18 June 2015
The ESB Amarillo PA is now all bottled. It'll be ready on the 26th, and I'm very keen to see what its like. Hopefully its a good one. Realised I've got 6 full cartons of beer stashed down there now. Knew I had a few, but not that many! Cracked open the Red Ale too. Colour is great, taste is great too, but there are no bubbles in it. Dunno what happened there. Ah well, no worries about it frothing over when you pour it. I need to get back down to Tim's to see what wort kits he has at the mo. I've got another Rye Amber Ale, but thought I might see what other options there might be.
11 September 2015
Been a while since any updates here. I worked out the reason for no bubbles was just cause of the colder temperatures over winter. Leaving the Red Ale longer it was all OK. Between June and now I put the other Amarillo Rye Amber Ale down. And its been bottled. Like the Red Ale I opened a couple and no bubbles, so it needs a bit longer too. Then I put down the next Anzac IPA (same recipe as the Australian/NZ IPA from earlier). I bottled it last night, which took longer than usual as I'd been given some bottles from Glen and they were very grubby. Hopefully I got them cleaned well enough and the IPA is all good. Went to HopDog at lunchtime to pick up my DogBox. A sampler pack of their brews. I know the Horns Up is really good, no idea on the others. And then today I put the HopDog Golden Ale down. I reused the yeast from the IPA, and threw in about 70g of hops (50g Cascade + 20g Citra). Once this one is done I need to get the next one down, got a couple more wort kits sitting there. Saw a Galaxy Pale Ale while at the beer shop yesterday, so it followed me home. And the other one is an ESB Five Malts Amber Ale, which sounded interesting.
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