Wednesday, January 20, 2010

On the Map

The National Geographic Central Cascades Geotourism MapGuide was released yesterday. We are honored to be included on the map and the website. What more can I say? See you at the pub.

Monday, January 18, 2010


The 2010 KLCC collaboration brew was brewed on Saturday. An interesting project for myself, as the recipe required three grains, three strains of hops, and a yeast that I've never used before. The ratios of the grains were predetermined, but the hop drops were up to each brewery. This is billed as a Belgian Cascadian Dark Rye Ale, and I was so glad the the brewers avoided the tragedy of calling it a Dark IPA.

The sparge progressed rather slowly, I suspect due to the presence of the rye and the dark munich. They seemed to shatter to a higher degree in the mill than the other grains. I don't have the luxury of being able to adjust the fineness of the grind for the different grains; the mill is set right where I want it for the bulk of what I brew and I'm afraid to tweek it.

The yeast is another matter. It is the WY3522 Ardennes yeast, a Belgian strain, that I harvested off the bottom of one of the conicals at Oakshire. While I collected a full quart jar, by the time it chilled and settled here at the brewery it had packed down into less than a pint. This gave me no small concern as to the risk of underpitching. Too late to fetch more, though. Its behavior was unlike the usual dry British strains that I use, so I'm having to use observation and the nose to determine as best I can as to how things are going. I thought it had a slow start. Right now, Monday morning, it has a nice brown crust and the aroma is starting to develop. The krausen is not real thick and foamy, but maybe this is just the way it behaves. There is not a whole lot I can do about it, though. I'm expecting to hold the temperature a little warmer towards the end so as to mitigate the likelihood of diacetyls due to the potential of having underpitched. Geeky stuff, eh? More to come.

If this turns out alright, it is possibly the first ever cask-conditioned Belgian Cascadian Dark Rye ale ever produced in a commercial brewery. Who knows.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cask Swap

The Block15 brewpub in Corvallis is now serving real ale. Rapidly, it seems, as I received an email from them last week that they were about to run out, and as I brew the stuff, I was asked if I could spare a firkin or five.

Yesterday I loaded up the battered old Jeep and brought them four casks. It was nice the see the setup in the cellar, and have a draw of a lovely brown ale. Probably today or tomorrow there will be a Brewers Union cask pulling through the Angram. Soon I expect to receive some Block15 real ale for the first ever guest casks at the pub.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Years Day. It's been a while since I've been on here, not due to the lack of material, but rather a side effect of the quantity of life to live this time of year. This belated entry is brought to you by a bottle of Hardknott Brewery ale that has traveled 8 time zones in a customer's luggage. Cheers! I'm almost tempted to do a video review, in which I might mention its liveliness.

It's a quiet day here in the pub. This effect is achieved by being shut. After getting out of the pub after 3:00 AM last night (this morning) I managed to sleep until 11:00 AM. That was a long day, including a great evening party of music and happy peeps. Another 45 minutes of lounging was required to convince myself that it was to be a brew day, being that my usual weekend brewing days were to be otherwise occupied this weekend. I didn't want to move. I knew everyone else would likely be avoiding work, perhaps engaging in some form of recreation or watching some silly Rose Bowl thingy. Motivation to leave the comfort of home and drive to the brewery came reluctantly. It's taken half a day for me to realize the privilege I have of spending a day in my own brewery, doing what I like to do. A line from Billy Bragg's "The Short Answer" comes to mind, and if you correctly mention it to me at the pub then there's a pint in one of the pumps with your name on it.

(The "Final Frontier" in the bottle has a bit of a spicy quality to it. I'm sure Woolpack Dave, who is out there somewhere, will divulge the hop that is causing that).

So far I avoided the widespread practice of doing a Poll or Best Of or some sort of Resolution on this blog. Not going to happen; my regard for patterns of numerical significance on the calendar is minimal. Nearly every day there is some sort of personal or business widget that needs tweaking. There is some good stuff coming up on the short term horizon, though. In the very, very, very short term, there is a batch of Union Dew undergoing heat exchange in the brewery right now, giving me time to write this entry. The next batch after this is going to be interesting; this year I get to be involved in the local Collaboration Beer. Around a dozen local breweries are brewing the same beer. Mostly. The relative percentages in the grain bill is determined. The yeast is a WY3522 Ardennes, which I will be harvesting from Oakshire in the next couple of weeks. The three hops have been named, but the timing and quantity of the drops are up to the brewery. For me, never having had formal training or time spent in a large brewery, I'm given the challenge of working with three hops, a strain of yeast, and three types of grain that I've never used before. Needless to say, the nourishing liquid that we release will be the only cask-conditioned offering to be sampled at the KLCC Microbrew Festival in February.

In the longer term, we will be continuing to refine the menu, adding a larger and more diverse list of daily specials. Some new experimental ales are also on the horizon, and I'm hoping to acquire some more firkins this summer when hopefully the cash flow issues might ease, as I would like to do more aging with wood.

See you at the pub. All six engines are deployed, but I think the Tanninbomb cask's days are numbered.