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Crazy spring

Where the heck has all the time gone? Here it is, July 1st just minutes old, and I haven’t written a blog entry for over three months! In my defense we’ve had alot going on around here, like international travel with the kids and a big home remodeling project, but still – wow.

So let’s turn back the clock a few months to March – I brewed a 10 gallon batch of Hefeweizen at How Do You Brew? at an all-grain class. The weather cooperated and it turned out to be a gorgeous day, and we had a great turnout – nearly 25 brewers in all. The class went relatively well and I managed to avoid getting a stuck mash or missing my mash-in temperature, and things were wrapped up and in the car by 5:30pm or so.

A few weeks later, we headed out for a 1 week cruise to the Carribean with our kids, and when we came back we jumped right in to a complete kitchen remodeling. I bring this up because it basically put our kitchen sink out of comission for nearly a month – all of the month of May, which meant pretty much my brewing activities ground to a halt. The kitchen sink is where I do all of my janitorial stuff like cleaning carboys, kegs, and kettles – so not having one made all that activity near impossible. Sure, some industrious homebrewers might take that as an opportunity to innovate and adapt their brewing practices to do things differently, however not I. The kitchen did turn out fantastic and was worth the wait, but I was very grateful to see the kitchen sink again.

I did manage to squeeze in one brew day during our kitchen remodeling – On May 20th, I took a day of vacation and brewed a batch of Citra Pale Ale to celebrate my birthday. A couple of friends came over to enjoy the day with me and participate in the process, and things went pretty well – I will say that cleanup was not quite easy, but I managed to get it done with the hose and a scrub brush. It was enough to convince me to hold off doing any more brewing until our kitchen was squared away again.

After we got our kitchen back, the next few weeks (first half of June) were seriously consumed trying to put everything back in the appropriate places and clean up the drywall dust that had spread throughout the entire first floor of the house. I think we mopped 3 times, dusted and vacuumed an equal number just to feel like we were back to status quo.

My next brew day occured this past Sunday, June 26th. I hauled up the big boy kettles and brewed up a 20 gallon batch of American Wheat. The brew day went pretty well except for three small glitches – first, I stuck the mash after only collecting about 4 gallons. I stirred, did another vourlauf, and didn’t have any issues after that. Second, I somehow ended up with a final gravity of 1.058 instead of 1.048, so my intended light summer quencher is going to pack a heavier punch than I had intended. Last, our groundwater temperature has risen such that I pretty much can’t cool anything below 80 degrees, so I ended up having to do the wet t-shirt water batch thing for a few hours to cool them down to pitching temperature.

10 gallons of the American Wheat will get a dose of 5 pounds worth of hand-picked and chopped cherries from Walnut Springs Farm in the secondary followed by a tertiary before kegging. The other 10 gallons I plan on leaving alone as a regular wheat beer. That should refill my empty kegs that are standing by, and I’ll have to get back to drinking again.

Hopefully I’ll get an opportunity to brew again in a week or two – I’m thinking maybe a belgian-style beer as my bottle stash is running pretty low and I need to replenish. With cases and cases of empty bottles, and plenty of belgian corks – I really need to put them to good use. If I don’t go belgian, I’ve got a few other ideas swimming around in the back of my head – maybe an amber lager or munich dunkel, or maybe I’ll go the other way with something high-octane like a barleywine or imperial stout. We shall see.

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