Hoppy Days Are Here Again
That’s all the face-time my novel gets today, because I want to talk to you about beer. But not just any beer: home-brewed beer. Over the past few months, a number of my hobbies have had to take a back seat to work. I haven’t written anything substantial, I haven’t gotten out on the trails for a hike, and I haven’t brewed any beer.
That changed yesterday. Well, to be fair, it started changing early last week when I decided to bury myself ever deeper into this hobby by purchasing hop rhizomes and starting a first-year hop garden. What could be better than growing your own hops for the beer you brew? Okay, maybe growing and malting your own barley, but that ain’t happening.
As soon as I thrust the shovel into the ground, I hit a rock, then another, then another. I unearthed a damn boulder field! Ever the resourceful one, I used the rocks to encircle my hops. Note the size of these rocks next to the tiny dandelion behind them. Yeah.
I’m starting slow with only one variety (Cascade), and if they do well, next year I’ll add another one or two. Cascade are a floral, citrusy hop used for both bittering and aroma, and they are said to do pretty well in Pennsylvania. Hops grow from rhizomes, and are perennial, so they come back every year. They like to crawl up stuff, which is why I have twine running to the roof of my wood shed.
Once I finished planting, I thought, “Gee, I should brew.” So I wrangled my brother, Mike, and we whipped up a partial mash Speckled Heifer (or spotted cow): a Midwestern take on American cream ale. It’ll be a couple of months before we get to enjoy it, but that’s part of the fun.
And so ends another brew day. As the yeasty beasties eat up all the carefully extracted sugars and excrete alcohol, we wait patiently for bottling day.