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This winter started so well

The winter started pretty mild. Only a couple of minor snow storms and it was already mid-January. Then, over the past two weeks, we’ve had about 4 FEET fall. Had a 30+ inch blizzard to start it off, followed almost ever few days following with smaller storms. And now looking at a potential foot out of this current storm. Top it off with the neighbor’s grandson, who’s plowed my driveway for a couple years now, having the mounting frame crack a couple days before the blizzard. Not a huge deal if it was a normal driveway, but ours is a 325 ft long access road more than a driveway. And it’s uphill to get out. So keeping it cleared is a must.

What’s this have to do with beer? Well, nothing other than the fact that it’s taking up so much time that I haven’t had any time to brew! I brew outside too, given my wife’s hatred for the smell of the process. It’s been frigid, snowing, and what time I may have free I’m spending snowblowing and shoveling.

Featured imageThe last few batches have been Mike “Tasty” McDole’s “Janet’s Brown Ale” (my 3rd attempt), the 5th brew of my Rye IPA, and 2nd batch of the Deschutes Black Butte Porter clone. The JBA I altered by dryhopping with Chinook instead of Centennial, and I’m going to keep that change going forward. It worked really well, and the beer went over with everyone who tried it. A great, great beer. Not too much roast which is the main thing I don’t care for in Black IPAs. JBA is a hoppy beer, but the malt bill really matches up with the hops and balances it out with a nice layering of flavors.

The Rye came in at 6.9% ABV (a little higher than intended) and unfortunately was not as bitter as I had hoped it would be. Still tasty, with 2.5 lb of malted rye in the grist, and all Amarillo hops other than the bittering charge. I bottled 2 gallons to gift out, and wow… I forgot what a pain in the butt bottling is! I’ve been kegging for about a year and a half and have no desire to hand bottle again. That said, I believe the folks I gave them to appreciated it.

Featured imageThe Deschutes Black Butte Porter clone was the 2nd attempt (the 1st being last winter). Only thing changed was that I used Simcoe for the late boil additions, but those hops are so in the background I don’t think it made a difference at all. I used the S04 English Ale dry yeast again. Unfortunately, I mashed a bit too high, given the yeast I was using, and the final gravity only got down to about 1.016. Wish it had finished a bit lower/drier, but it’s still very tasty. Just enough coffee and chocolate flavors coming through. And only a 5.5% ABV, so it’s not going to hit anyone too hard. Those who have had it (brought a growler to a friend’s Super Bowl party) really seem to have enjoyed it, and that’s what it’s all about.

I’ve had the ingredients to brew up a IPA since brewing the porter, but between the winter holidays, and now weather, I just haven’t been able to carve out the 5 hours needed. I’m looking at a new IPA recipe, which will be low on the crystal malt, focusing on the hops front and center. Was going to go all Simcoe, but might mix in Citra as well. Just need to find the time!

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