Signs of Life

Nugget vines busting out of their hop bedZeus coming back for its second season - Shoots everywhere!Now that the weather has improved, I was out strolling around the back yard recently and noticed all my hops breaking ground. Spring has definitely arrived, and based on the number of shoots I’m seeing from the rhizomes, I’m expecting quite a crop of homegrown hops this year. The Zeus and Nugget hops went into a 20 gallon batch of imperial amber with Brian back late last year, and we recently drank through an entire keg of that in about 2 1/2 weeks – It was fabulous! Zeus is a great variety, and provided the vines are as prolific as they were last year (if not more), I should have lots to dose my beers with come fall.

I have also finally broken out of by brewing funk – I taught an all-grain class at How Do You Brew? last Sunday, and it was a really good time. This weekend I’m going off the style map to brew 10 gallons of Peated American Brown -Yeah, that’s right. You heard me. An american brown ale with peated malt in it. Why? Because I have been brewing big batches of the same beers for a while now, and this year I’m finally getting away from that trend with all-new recipes. Brian picked me up some Peated malt during his last order, and when I opened up the bag to take a whiff, the thought of that aroma and flavor mingling with a little restrained citrus hops and maltiness came like a thunderbolt. I’ll start that process here in an hour or so. Not exactly a spring / summertime beer, but so what… it’ll be good.

We’ve got a really amazing french ale on tap right now, brewed back in February, that I am completely in love with (as is my wife). Wish we had a tap label to put up here, but I’ve been slacking hardcore on those too… It tastes very much like a saison but with a little more color and body, and it has a very pleasant ripe fruit aftertaste with no traces of fusels at all. That WLP072 yeast is amazing, and is destined to become one of my favorites. Unforunately we only have this one keg, but we do have a case of 750mL belgian bottles and 1 case of 12oz bottles as well – I think a few of those might have to find their way into a homebrew competition, although I’m not sure what the style would be – maybe a Bier de Garde? I need Brian (a certified BJCP judge) to come try it and give me some guidance.

I haven’t done a thing when it comes to BrewzNET. The grant works great, and the connection to a computer and a historian database is cool but unnecessary… Spending so much time on the PC at work has really squelched my desire to sit infront of a monitor at home too. Instead I’ve been mowing down Los Illuminados in Resident Evil 4, one of my favorite video games of all time (once the kids go to sleep, of course). Pumping PS2-rendered bad guys full of bullets is also helping me relieve some work-related stress, where I recently had a Six Sigma certification project implode in a fiery ball of wreckage after working on it for three months. ARGH! Unfortunately I’m not the sole contributor for these “professional” projects, so I can’t ensure that they are nearly always successful. C’est la vie, Mr. control-freak engineer.

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