The 2014 Page Valley Road Race

Friday, August 22, 2014

Brewing with Fresh Cascades

The second 2 oz. hop application, top, and
the 1 oz. aroma batch.
A few weeks back I wrote about our afternoon of picking the hops neighbor Bill had grown in his backyard.  (The post is here if you'd like to check it out:  http://hawksbillcabin.blogspot.com/2014/08/sunday-hops-picking-in-luray.html).  Last Friday I broke some of them out to brew an IPA with.

I've adapted the recipe from a Black IPA kit I got (I have one batch that was completed faithfully to the kit recipe just going into bottles - with the exception that I dry hopped it with some of Bill's last year crop).  In this case, I used a 5-to-1 substitution ratio of the fresh hops to the dry hops the recipe called for - I used Dan's ratios to calculate the rate for that, since he told me that drying them reduces them to around 20 percent.

The aroma hops went in at the end of the boil.
I went with two bittering dosages of 2 oz. each, one at the start of the 60-minute boil and the second at 30-minutes.  Plus I put in a final 1 oz. for arome at five minutes before the end of the boil.  I plan to dry hop with a package of Cascade pellets, since that doesn't increase IBUs and this will probably be on solid ground in that department.

The beer will be in primary for another week, then I will transfer it to secondary for two weeks.  I'll also let it bottle condition for two weeks before drinking it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

First World Problems

Water main repair in progress.
Wednesday night I got home to the sound of Mary tinkering away down in the utility room, where our furnace and hot water heater are located.  After she had finished, a little while later, there were still funny noises coming out of there.  The noise bedeviled us – we went down there several times to check them out to try and identify the source, but Mary had never been close to the pipe making the noise, and we never figured it out.

The next morning I went down to take my shower and get ready to work…but, no water!  I decided to skip it and take the dog for a walk, figuring it was a temporary thing. 

The hoard.
No such luck!  There were crews working on a major water main break a half block from us, and due to problems with that break we also had a secondary break up the street from us. 

I made coffee with some bottled water and figured I’d tell Mary when she got up. She immediately decided she needed to go to a grocery store to gather some water to hoard…she was gone a while, I figured she must be joining a bunch of water hoarders.

Our heavily infrastructured street.  Any number of
things could go wrong!
I’d planned to pen her a note since I needed to leave for work: “Mary, I needed to get to work.  Busy day ahead, plus I need to relieve myself.”


The water service was back on by mid-morning – it was a pretty big deal, as you can see in the photo.  Apparently my situation of having skipped my morning shower did not offend anyone either.  At least as far as I know.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Page County Grown Farm-to-Table Dinner - 2014

Melon Salad
It’s become one of our favorite events in Page County – the Page County Grown Farm Dinner at the Mimslyn, which they’ve been holding in August every year since 2011.  Although this year’s event was not paired with the farm tour as it had been in the past (the tour is now offered as part of the Page County Grown Century bicycling event in October), there is still a good time to be had right in the middle of the summer harvest season.

Lamb Sausage Ravioli
This year’s format was similar to the past ones, with locally grown produce and entrees paired with wines from Wisteria (who, coincidentally, is celebrating their 5th anniversary this year).  Mary and I were joined by Brendan and Cathy, who have been coming out for the event the last few times as well, and our table had two couples who heard about the dinner from the bed and breakfasts they were staying at.  No doubt everybody had a good meal, but I think everybody had a great time as well!
Short Ribs

Quite a few of the farmers were at the dinner, but this year the ingredients each one provided weren’t credited.  No matter, it was just as tasty as ever, with plenty of interesting twists and takes on more traditional offerings.  I forgot to snap a photo of the gazpacho course before digging into it – trust me, it was great…our table voted the lamb ravioli as their favorite, but there weren’t any complaints about anything on the menu.
Blackberry Cream Torte

During dinner, our friends David(Public House Produce) and Jared (Skyline Premium Meats) stopped by our table to talk with the group.  David checked off some of his classic tall tales, mostly made up, about some intern he once had on the farm.  Jared shared the story of Trio Farms and examples about where beef like his winds up on tables in New York and D.C. 

After dinner a bunch of us went down to the Speak Easy for after dinner drinks and more fun socializing.  I’ll close with a link to the Page County Grown website, if anyone wants to check out the organization:

Friday, August 8, 2014

I Grew a Hop - 2014 edition

Last week, when I wrote about Dan's hops, I had all but given up on the plants I have in the backyard at Alexandria.  In fact, I wrote of the season as a loss at the time and I wasn't planning to give any more updates on the Alexandria hops.

That all changed earlier in the week after Mary came in from checking on the tomatoes and told me that I had some hops on the Willamette bines.  This plant grew robustly this year, but since nobody seems to have any luck with the variety, I just assumed I had a decorative plant here.  But to my surprise, there are little green cones all over it now.

Not enough to make a batch of beer, but enough to maybe dry hop some future batch with.  I'll keep an eye on them and harvest them soon, probably within the next week.

In contrast, the Goldings are having a recovery year.  I've diagnosed the situation as a hazard of transplanting - I set them back to the first year level.  So next year I should see them come back into production.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Sunday Hops Picking in Luray

A great big Cascade cone.
A few weeks ago Mary and I went to visit our friend Bill in Luray.  He and his wife host happy hours out in the yard while the music plays down at the plaza on Friday nights, and we were lucky enough to be out for one of those summer evenings.

Bill planted some hop rhizomes in the backyard last year, all Cascades from Dan - this is their second year and the bines are really producing for him.  He was at the bicycle race on Saturday and told me he was planning to pick on Sunday if I wanted to come by.  So I did.

It turned out that another friend from the neighborhood, John, was there to help as well.  I figured we could make it quick with three hands working.  They had chosen a Lagunitas offering as the official refreshment, so - so much the better!

We packaged the fresh hops in 14 one
gallon freezer bags.
John and Bill instructing me on how
to pick hops.
We picked the cones directly from the bines for a half hour, then I asked Bill if he expected another harvest this year, or if this was going to be the only one.  He said just this once, so we decided to cut the bines down and pick them while sitting around a table - the work went quickly then, to the sound of good tunes and tall tales.

Tragedy struck when we ran out of Lagunitas, but these resourceful guys had a fallback, and we finished the job with Yuengling.

With some of Bill's harvest from last year I made a batch of "Tax Day IPA" - there are still a few bottles left.  The first year Cascades delivered a beer that is right on the threshold on IBUs for an IPA - around 55.  Bill still had a few ounces of those left, and he offered them to me - I will use them to dry hop a Black IPA that is just about ready to go to secondary fermentation.

We picked enough hops to fill 14 one-gallon freezer bags.  I might not be handling these correctly, but I've put them all directly into the freezer.  I just ordered the ingredients for two more five-gallon batches of Black IPA, and plan to wet hop those with part of this crop.  I estimate I'll need six ounces of fresh/frozen hops for every one ounce of dried or pelletized hops called for in the recipe.

In the meantime, there will be 15 gallons of beer laying around, all made with local hops!