Homebrews have been happening lately.

In the past month Hump’s German Hefeweizen has gone the way of the do-do. I actually still have a couple of bottles of it still in the cellar, but the rest is on its journey to beer Elysium (i.e. in my septic tank or flowing through the purification mechanisms of municpal water sources – perhaps for the second, third, or even fourth time by now…).

It was a tasty beverage – wheaty and spicy. The final product had a decent bit of spice that was thankfully not overpowered by the banana esters typical of weizen yeast. I’ve read that the banana character usually comes out at higher fermentation temperature and than spices (mainly clove) comes out at lower temperatures. This actually fermented pretty warm, but it turned out good.

I still have Hump’s Bosbessenbier in a keg with a pretty decent amount of it left. It has a nice bready malt character combined with a touch of acid and berry – like a splash of blueberry wine in the beer (which is pretty much what it is…).

The newcomer to the fridge (not really that new – it hit the keg shortly after Bosbessenbier, nearly a month ago) is Hump’s Imperial ESB. I originally thought I had formulated an English India Pale Ale, but the finished character does not have enough hop flavor and aroma. It has a good earthy hop bitterness and some hop flavor, but is more of a malt-forward beer. It isn’t quite strong enough to be a barleywine, but it is close. I’m finding that strong hoppy ales, if not done right, frequently taste more like barleywines than the intended style (I guess that means that mediocre barleywines are really easy to make…). I’m finding that a shit-ton of late addition hops are needed to give a strong beer the level of in-your-face hop aroma and character that I really want. It also has a lot to do with the actual hop variety used for late addition hops – and I’ve been using a lot of English hops that are much more subtle than the likes of Cascade and Centennial. That’s a bit of a shame considering that hops are still in relatively short supply.

Doug, the owner and operator of Just Brew It!, has ended his three ounce limit of hops, but I stick to it anyway. Until his fridge is plentiful with hops, I’ll limit myself to three ounces per recipe. I have been buying more than I need whenever a recipe calls for less than three ounces though. I’m saving up for an American IPA – and this time it will have the right level of up-front hops!

In the fermentor currently is Hump’s Honey Nut Ale. I was inspired by Cheerios I suppose. The beer was made with one pound of honey (which will dry the beer out more than it will impart honey character) and 3/4 pound of chopped nuts: pine nuts, roasted pistachios, and roasted almonds. It is currently sitting on the nuts and will be ready to keg on Thursday. I’m hoping the actual nuts will strengthen the nuttiness imparted from the specialty grains – a really nutty nut brown ale if you will…

And this weekend I’ll be cooking up Hump’s Itsy Bitsy Brown. This will be a Southern English Brown Ale – full of dark malt character and flavor but low in alcohol – and will be my second all-grain batch. The recipe only needs one ounce of hops, but I’m hoping to score an additional two ounces of Centennial hops at the store this week (if Doug hasn’t sold out of Centennial – he was almost out last time).

The next batch, which I’ll cook up in September, will be the American IPA. It is a slight update to my Hellishly Hopped Ale from 2003, which turned out to be absolutely delicious. The changes are slight and are due mainly to an increase in the grain-to-extract ratio (since I now do mini-mashes, but I didn’t in 2003), an increase in batch size (last time I just brewed a half-size batch: 3 gallons), and a new yeast (since I can no longer easily get my hands on White Labs yeast). I think it will be absolutely delicious again – which is generally what I think of all of my recipes before I cook them (and, luckily, I’m sometimes, if not frequently, right).