Month: April 2014

Villa del Lupulus (Homegrown Hops)

Phase 1: Villa del Lupulus

P1020355Hops I have grown in the past, though some constant moving over the course of a couple years really hindered any progress in that regard. I recently received four hop rhizomes from Fresh Hops in Oregon. Two each of  Crystal and Sterling. I chose these two because, well, your mother! Kidding, I like both these hops, and they work very well in the styles of beer I happen to brew the most, which are Belgian/French ales. Of course I have a little extra space, and will expand in the future with some different varieties. These will hopefully be going into the ground within the next week. Here is picture of the box that I will be planting in. The picture may not do it justice, as this thing is pretty damn huge, and weighs about 5 tons. You will notice that the posts in the ground are not that tall (at least not tall enough for your average hop bine. As the project comes along, I will be securing wire that will run from the top of each post to the adjacent building, giving the hops plenty of room to stretch out.  Before any of that though ... neccesito SOIL!

Update: April 24, 2014:The humongous box has been filled with soil and my rhizomes were planted approx 5 days ago. I have already had breakthrough on two of the rhizomes, one each of crystal and sterling. There are four total rhizomes. My next step will be setting up wires and a trellis system for the bines to grow on. Each rhizome is ~5 ft from the other, and all were planted in slight hills. The watering schedule for the rhizomes in their infancy is light and often. Thankfully, we have been getting little bits of rain rather frequently the last few days, which has been nice for both the rhizomes and northern California in general.



Ramon Rojo Mk. II

This is the second of two batches of Ramon Rojo. The first was fermented with a strain of Brettanomyces, and has been sitting for approximately one month. This second batch, twice the volume of the first, will be fermented with a more neutral strain of Saccharomyces for approx two weeks, after which time I will blend both batches in my used wine barrel, San Miguel.
The recipe (listed below)  for this batch was exactly the same as the first edition, only twice the volume to fill the space in the barrel.  I chose WLP002 as the yeast for this batch, primarily because of its low attenuation level. I want little attenuation from this batch, which will leave quite a bit of larger polysaccharides for the Brettanomyces to break down once the two batches have been blended together. That is the reason for such a high mash temp, and I also skipped oxygenation of the wort for this batch. Having spent so much time trying to get my yeast to perform at its very best, it was a little odd taking all these steps to try and prevent it from doing so.
Some may be questioning why I would use another yeast at all. Why not just blend the batches now, and let the Brett go buck-wild on all the sugars in the wort? Well, many of the hundreds of compounds that are produced by Saccharomyces yeast strains during fermentation will in turn give certain characteristics when they are further broken down by Brett, secondarily. It is suggested that one will get more depth and characteristic flavor from Brett strains if they are first fermented with Saccharomyces. Basically, using a neutral yeast strain first is the equivalent to adding bacon to anything.
Let me just say, this was a long brew day. As most of the batches I brew are on a 3-4 gal scale (that's just the way I like doing things for the time being) I have only really ever needed a five gallon mash tun. However, this batch was clocking in at a panty-dropping 12.5 gallons. This is obviously far beyond the capacity for my mash tun, so I basically split it into two mashes, mixed the runnings from both, and then brought it to boil in my 15.5 gal Keggle. For someone used to brewing 3 or so gallons, in and out in 4 hours flat, including clean up, two mashes and the time needed to bring 14 gallons of wort to boil started to add up. Thankfully the Giants had a late afternoon game today, which kept me in form.


Recipe: Ramon Rojo (Clean Portion)
Brewer: Evan

Recipe Specifications

Batch Size (fermenter): 13.00 gal   
Estimated OG: 1.047 SG
Estimated Color: 10.3 SRM
Estimated IBU: 24.6 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %

Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
14 lbs 6.2 oz         Pale Malt (2 Row) Bel (3.0 SRM)          Grain         1        60.0 %        
4 lbs 12.7 oz         Vienna Malt (Great Western) (3.5 SRM)    Grain         2        20.0 %        
2 lbs 6.4 oz          Wheat Malt, Dark (Weyermann) (7.0 SRM)   Grain         3        10.0 %        
2 lbs 6.2 oz          Caramunich II (Weyermann) (63.0 SRM)     Grain         4        10.0 %        
2.00 oz               Sterling [7.50 %] - First Wort 60.0 min  Hop           5        24.6 IBUs     
1.1 pkg               English Ale (White Labs #WLP002) [35.49  Yeast         6        -             

Mash Schedule: Double Infusion, Full Body
Total Grain Weight: 23 lbs 15.6 oz
Name              Description                                Step Temperat Step Time     
Protein Rest      Add 15.05 qt of water at 124.9 F           113.0 F       30 min        
Saccharification  Add 17.33 qt of water at 208.4 F           158.0 F       45 min        

Sparge:  sparge with 9.82 gal water at 168.0 F

Created with BeerSmith 2 -

Brewed April 6, 2013

Brew day went smoothly, however, it was a rather long day. 
Original Gravity - 1.049 
Batch split into two 6.5gal fermenters and each fermenter got one vial of WLP002. No yeast starter was used. 
Yeast pitched at 66 F, fermentation chamber set for 66 F as well. 
Giants lost 6-2 

Fermentation started approx 24 hrs later (again, did not use a starter. 

Now lets get all this crazy yeast mumbo-jumbo and red-hued sugary goodness
 all mixed together and makin' all kinds of sweet, alcoholic love to each other. It's gonna be a bio-chemical orgy.

Tasting Notes: Le Fou


Here are the tasting notes for Le Fou, a hopped-up (relatively) Belgian-esk witbier… thing

A light gold color, which is moderately cloudy (a symptom of using wheat, I suspect). Moderate carbonation with a good head at the start, which dissipates after about 5-10 minutes, but hangs on for dear life to the end.

The aroma is difficult to put into words. It is an entanglement of resinous, yet floral-like hop aroma, mixed with a phenolic spiciness from the yeast. Perhaps some spiciness from the Sterling and Styrian Golding hops as well. Its sharp and crisp on the nose, but not so overpowering that it hits you in the face.
Upon tasting, much of what I was getting on the nose also comes through on the tongue. Floral and crisp, albeit a bit muddled. There is something that lingers that I just can't put my finger (tongue) on. Maybe apricot or peach. It is fruit like, but not tart. It is also hard to say whether this fruit-like character is hop or yeast derived. 


Now my original inspiration for the grist of this beer was a Belgian witbier. So, lots of wheat in this one, and you can really tell in the mouth feel. It is smooth, but by no means thin or watery. 

I am fairly pleased with the way this came out, being a first time brew for this particular beer. The hop character is crisp and pleasing, with no harsh bitterness to speak of. A symptom of hop bursting it, I suspect. Next time I may add a bit more hops, just to get it a bit more defined as far as the hop flavor and aroma. I am not pleased with how cloudy this beer turned out. Witbier or not, this thing is pretty much murky. Perhaps I will alter my protein rest next time. The head starts out maybe two fingers and quickly recedes to a thin layer on the top of the beer that hangs on throughout. 
The weather here is getting warm again... not that it hasn't been all summer, but I will enjoy drinking this one in the heat will I sit on my ass doing absolutely nothing.