Harvesting hops and brewing up an all grain all wet hopped pale ale
About half way through September, I took a trip to visit my friend Dave’s uncle’s James farm where he had been growing 20 hop plants. Of the hops that were planted, only the Zues and Cascade hops had any significant harvest.
Harvesting the hops was fun, but the vines caused a mild reaction with my skin. Next time I wont treat the vines like a necklace.
From this harvest, we had enough hops to brew a 10 gallon batch of pale ale. The Zeus was used for the bittereing, cascade for the flavor, and a blend for aroma. Zues was also used for dry hopping.
Here is the tasting of my Wet Hopped American Summer:
Wet Hopped Pale Ale
Appearance: Amber to orange and clear enough to see through it.
Nose: A lovely biscuit bread malt sweetness with a calm citrus hope aroma.
Flavor:A medium bitterness with a sweet malt backbone holding the pale together. A bit too estery in the mid mouth. But an easy finish makes this beer a real easy drinker.
Mouthful: Medium bodied with a long lasting thick head
Overall: This is a damn good pale ale. I really love it. 8.5/10
It was the fall of 2005 when I first walked into a beer tent in Munich. It was an experience of excess and awesomeness. People were everywhere and absolutely everyone was drinking copious amounts of delicious beer. Oktoberfest is much like a carnival for adults, and I was lucky enough see it.
Later that year, I began home brewing, with a goal being to recreate the beers that I drank at the festival. This has been a very frustrating process. When I first began brewing, I was like every other home brewer out there, not very familiar with proper sanitation practices and lacked any form of temperature control. I also didn’t understand the basics of pitching rate. Needless to say, I have made many Oktoberfests that have tasted like absolute crap.
Last year I put a lot of time working with this beer style. I made 3 batches of Oktoberfest, each through a different process. The first was a triple decoction, which is a very long process of taking some of the mash, boiling it, then throwing it back into the mash tun, which raises the mash temperature. Just add 3 hours to your brew day and you can do a decoction. The next approach was single infusion, using only 1 water addition to reach mash temp, and the last was extract. I found that a triple decoction made the best beer, but took forever for a very minimal gain. The single infusion brew was the smoothest with a very light malt character. Of course the extract example tasted the worse.
This year, I attempted to fuse the successes from the past. Instead of the triple decoction approach, I did a double step infusion, holding the grain bill at 146 for 60 minutes, then raising the mash to 158 for 20 before sparging at 160. Next time I plan on a double decoction, with a more diverse grain bill.
The beer ended up being a damn good lager, even though I am still working on the balance between Vienna malt and Munich malt. This style is finally being made well in my brewery, just a few more tweaks until I get to a finished beer!
Appearance:Perfectly clear with an amber brown color
Nose: sweet caramel nose with a slight toasted quality
Flavor: Smooth and sweet, big Munich malt flavor with a late noble hop finish
Mouthfeel: medium bodied and wonderfully carbonated
Overall: This is the first time I can even come close to being satisfied with my Oktoberfest, I give it a 7.5 / 10