It’s been a long time since a real post was made to this site. So let’s catch up, shall we?

We Love IPAs

In December, we bottled Hump’s Hooch. Holy moly, it was good. Hopped with a blend of Zeus, Simcoe, and Amarillo whole leaf hops, six ounces in total, it really scratched that gotta-have-hops itch.

Sadly, it was shortlived. We didn’t even get a chance to save some for competition before the keg ran dry.

It ran dry while we were brewing a follow-up: Hump’s Last Minute IPA. I had hoped instead to make an India Wheat Ale (like a hefeweizen, but with lots and lots of hop character). But the usual homebrew store was closed that day, and the second string store (Hop City in midtown Atlanta) – though awesome as a bottle shop with an amazing selection of commercial beer – was not an effective substitute. Due to their prices and selection, we had to make numerous last minute adjustments to the recipe. An India Wheat Ale was no longer in the cards, so we ended up just making a regular IPA instead.

And this upcoming Sunday, 3/20, is a Brew Day. We’re making… another IPA! This will be our 100th original recipe. So we’re calling it Hump’s 100!

Peach State Brew Off

The Last Minute IPA we made is tasty, but it didn’t fare that great in the Peach State Brew Off (which wrapped up and awarded medals last Saturday, 3/12). I dig it, so I’m not too concerned that judges did not.

We entered a few other brews into that contest, too:

  • Hump’s Naughty Monk Ale: Our watermelon-infused Belgian Tripel (the one made with real watermelon puree, not extract) was sent in and scored higher than any of our other entries. Final score: 32.5 out of 50 (better than it sounds as 30-37 is the “very good” range). But certainly no 45 (which is what Hump’s Old Humperdink Barley Wine scored at last year’s Peach State Brew Off).
  • Hump’s 10th Anniversary: This beer was a great big amber ale – with a lot more hops and malt used than in a typical amber ale. Alas, judges did not agree. One said it seemed like a normal American Amber Ale – not an “Indian” Amber Ale. I’ve had a lot of amber ales in my day, and that judge is smoking crack. They must have a serious hop-bomb entry beforehand to make this one seem muted, because – to me – it was way too big (over 7% abv) and had way too much hop aroma and flavor to be a normal amber ale entrant.
  • Hooch: This wasn’t, technically, a Hump’s brew. It was brewed by friend and fellow home-brewer, Scott Stinson. He brews with extract, so I converted the recipe for Hump’s Hooch from all-grain to mini-mash, and he cooked it up. We entered it as a “team” entry, with both our names on it. I’m a bit lost on the judges comments. They indicated that it was watery and not very bitter. Did they have the same beer? It was fairly full-bodied and extremely hoppy. It was also drier than many commerical examples and was quite drinkable, especially given its strength and massive amounts of hops. It’s really disappointing to see comments like this – that don’t even seem to describe the right beer… One suggested it would do well as an American Pale Ale entry – at nearly 8%abv?!?!? (not to mention 6 ounces of high alpha hops…)
  • Hump’s Chocolate Milkshake: The lowest score of all the entries. Admittedly, that was expected. I felt it was definitely the weakest. Surprisingly the judges seemed to like it, but they felt that I may have miscategorized it: I entered it as a spice/herb/vegetable beer due to the cocoa nibs and vanilla bean and put the “base style” as robust porter. They didn’t think the base beer was robust enough. Strangely, they said the chocolate character was strong and the vanilla character was too low. That is the complete opposite of my own impression of the beer. I can barely taste any chocolate other than character from chocolate malt (not real cocoa flavor), but I can taste lots of vanilla. Maybe they don’t know what these ingredients are supposed to taste like???

You can read the judges’ feedback for yourself by checking out the Contests page.

Perhaps we’ll have better luck next year.

Hop Plants

Two of our four hop plants are already growing back this year. The Willamette is the surprise star of the garden right now. Chinook has just started to show some tiny leaves. No sign yet of Horizon (which I’m looking forward to trying if it ever grows and flowers) or Centennial (which, unfortunately, is even worse than the Horizon – I will be mildly surprised if it actually comes back at all this year…).

I’ll have two weeks of time off coming up soon, so the wife and I hope to make some progress on the garden. Perhaps we can get it in better shape than last year, and that the effort will help everything stay alive. Less heat would help, too. Last year’s crazy hot summer burned up everything in the garden. We didn’t even collect 1/2 ounce of hops from four plants last year. Depressing…

Muddy Rye

We’ve recently tapped into Hump’s Smoked Rye Porter – made with two pounds of smoked malt and four pounds of rye malt. The result: a tasty beer with a nice hop aroma, too (decent bit of Amarillo and Simcoe late hops). The downside: the texture is way too thick.

The Roggendoppelbock turned out this way, too: incredibly viscous, especially considering the final SG reading (1.017 for the smoked porter). The Wry Wit we made last year also used a lot of rye, but it did not exhibit this symptom. So we turned to the internet to investigate the what-for.

One fact worth pointing out: we employed a protein rest for the Wry Wit, due to using lots of unmalted grains (flaked barley, flaked rye, and flaked oats). Did the protein rest “fix” the viscosity for that earlier brew?

Most of what I’ve read suggests that a beta glucan rest is what is actually called for when using large amounts of rye, oats, or unmalted grains. But at 122 degrees (the temperature of the protein rest I employed in making Wry Wit), beta-glucanase and cytase are also active. So, at that temperature, protein and beta-glucan rests are combined (at least to some degree).

So I’m going to give rye another go this spring, and use a beta-glucan rest at 110 degrees to see if it fixes this issue. And if not, I’ll try another one later with another protein rest…

Dishearteningly, I can’t find anyone describing exactly the same problem I’m having. Most suggest that these rests just reduce viscosity and gumminess of the mash, making lautering easier and faster. I did have very slow sparges with both the smoked porter and the roggendoppelbock, but the viscosity problem I’m having is in the finished product, not just the mash.

Doggone it, I’m going to figure this out! What a fun way to do science experiments, eh?