Hops 2011 – July 2nd

2nd Year Hops - Willamette in the middle, Cascade on the outside (and other veggies)

The summer is here and it is finally hot enough that we are getting vigorous growth. The 2nd year Cascades are almost done growing vertically with a bit to go still on the Willamette.

Cascade reaches the top! (and then some)

Saying that Brett has been in Ukraine for 2 weeks, he has to trim up the top of the plants when he gets back (tomorrow).

Cascade side growth

We are getting some good horizontal shoots growing and we hope to see some hop cones soon. The plants will begin to fill out more once we trim the tops.

First Year Plants

Our first year cuttings are going strong in my backyard. They are also planted in 18 gallon buckets. There is enough space at the top of the bucket to top off with compost at the end of this fall.

Cascade - 1st Year

The cuttings now have multiple bines from each plant; the first bines are not growing as fast as they were, and many of the secondary ones are taller than the initial ones. This year, I am not concerned with hop weight as much as I am about root growth, which sets us up for 2 things: a big harvest for next year, as well as being able to take many rhizome cuttings to start a larger hop garden.

Willamette - 1st Year


Hops 2011 – June 1st

Black Heart Brewery's 2nd Year Hop Garden

Transplanting & Clippings

This is the the first post about our brewery’s hop project, and most of this info will be converted to full tutorials in the future, but for right now, I will put it all in one post and sort it out later.

At the brewery, we currently have 3 second year plants growing strong; 2 Cascade and 1 Willamette (pic above). They should give us a bunch of hops to brew a few batches of beer with. This year I am stepping it up and putting as many cuttings into planters as possible. We have been using 18 gallon plastic buckets with holes drilled in the bottom for drainage.

Cascade Newly Transplanted Outside

Today, I moved my 2 most solid cuttings out doors into the same kind of planters; these are in the backyard at my house.

Cascade transplanted

For the last 2 and half weeks, these cuttings have been in peat moss planters under Compact florecent bulbs. They both have nice sized root masses, and were too tall to support in the smaller pots. The plan for this year is a horizontal grow, while I figure out what I want to do with the yard long term. Since they are in planters, I can move them at any time. I have a garage that I will soon be attaching eyelets along the side. Across the yard 20 feet or so, in constant direct sunlight, the hop buckets will be. In each bucket is a 3 foot long board, with an eyelet bolted through. The board is buried and so the top is about 20 inches above the soil. The hops will grow up the board and down a wire to the garage. Each plant will have 2 lines, with 3 vines per line (6 total). This will most likely happen next year with established crowns. This year, I expect just one vine per bucket.

In the mean time, I will be taking as many cuttings as possible from our brewery crown’s as well as transplanting the ones I currently have under lights. (pic below)

June 2011 Cuttings

That is all I have to report for now. I will be doing a write up on the cutting/rooting process in the near future; I just need to take a few more pictures next week when I take more. In the mean time, I have some pictures in a gallery below.

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Black Heart Brewery Update & Control Panel Test Video

On Sunday, Brett and I spent the entire day, a good 10 hours of it, in the brewery soldering, cutting, stripping, and connecting wires and components. We are happy to announce we now have working switches and LED indicator lights. These let us know that the components are getting power, and are explained further in the video below. We are ordering the rest of the box parts tomorrow and it will be completed on Thursday, less the Brewtroller 4.0, which we are waiting to hear an arrival date on. Other than that, we can finish hooking back up the plumbing, route the wires, test the valves and connections. We will be brewing within 2 weeks; period.
We were pleased to find out today that our friend Adam, who is BHB’s welder, will be finishing up the mounting arm for the control box, and we will have it in place by mid week; pictures to come.
Our grain mill is hopefully going to be completed by the time we brew again, but if not, I will deal with ONE last manual crush session at the local homebrew store [Author’s note: As an aggressive inline skater, I have sustained many shoulder injuries through the years, most recently with a dislocation prior to massive snow storms, so that Monster Mill is going to be my new best friend soon.]
Like I said previously, we are 2 weeks away from being able to brew again, and once we do, the beer will be flowing. We just ordered up 11 1/6bbl kegs, that we hope to fill very soon via a weekly brewing schedule, a goal that we are on task to reach by the end of March.
That is all for now. Please enjoy the short update below, with many more to follow, including some in depth videos on nanobrewing. Cheers!

Sam Adams Boston Lager – Perfect Pintglass vs Spiegelau tulip

I had purchased a seasonal 12 pack from Samuel Adams; the American Classics pack. Now, I had previously tried and reviewed the classic Boston Lager. So I thought it would be neat to do a different sort of post.

What if I did a side by side tasting of Boston Lager with the Perfect Pint glass and the Spiegelau tulip glass? The first is a beer glass specifically designed around the SA Boston Lager. The second is a German made crystal tulip glass; my favorite style and specific model. All of my beer reviews are now done in this one. Check out the video for some interesting surprises.

Black Heart Brewery – February 2011 Video Update

Click through the video to YouTube for a higher quality video

Here is a little video we put together to update people on the brewing and business of Black Heart Brewery. It explains our next 1 month to 2 years. It sums up a lot, and while it might be a bit technical for some, it is really informative. Check it out and head over to our Facebook page at facebook.com/blackheartbrewery. You can also follow us on twitter at twitter.com/blackheartbrew.

Breaker Brewing Co. – A Growing Nanobrewery in Plains, PA

Breaker Brewing Co. 3.5bbl brew system

On a cold, February Thursday night, Brett, my brew partner and I, drove and hour and change to Plains, PA to visit nanobrewery Breaker Brewing Co. (website). This was my first and Brett’s second trip down to see the two year old, 3.5 barrel commercial garage brewery. Previously, Brett had purchased three 1/2 barrel kegs that soon became our keggles, which we now use to make 10 gallon batches of our delicious beer.

We arrived as the co owners, Mark and Chris were preparing to keg a batch of beer. We knew we were in the right place when we saw their delivery Scion XB. We were welcomed inside where they were working. With their own homemade kegging and carbonation systems, the whole process seemed to go off without a hitch and as easily as can be. Simplicity in solid DIY systems for the entire brewing process seems to be the key to their ability to balancing time with full time jobs and families. They make seven beers in their year round portfolio and five more seasonal offerings. They are available on tap at bars and in 22oz bottles at bottle shops around Scranton and Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. (BBC Beer Finder)

One of four large plastic fermentors

We had gone to the brewery in hopes of having a few questions answered in regards to the opening of our nanobrewery, Black Heart Brewery. Specifically, we are about to order some brand new 1/6 barrel kegs, and wanted to know how they liked theirs. We heard what we hoped we would, and are placing an order very shortly. After we got our first round of questions out of the way and they wrapped up the kegging, we were served a few pints of their craft brew wares.

I have a sad confession to make; I did not take one picture of the beers. To remedy this, I promise to return to Breaker Brewing (with beers of our own labor to share), and take those pictures.

Up first for me was their Black IPA “Black Diamond”. Coming in at 5% ABV and 65 IBUs, this is a very approachable and drinkable beer. Up front on the nose is big oranges and dark chocolate. Like one of those chocolate oranges, if only they used real oranges. Bold roast up front, with a nice big lingering hop finish, with the simcoe standing out nicely for me. A very solid brew; I hope there is more when I come back.

Next was the Lunch Pail Ale with a solid 5.5% ABV and 55 IBUs. It is a very clean, classic northeast pale ale, with a balanced floral nose and a sweet toasty malt finish. One of their best sellers, and I can see why.

I was able to sample some of their winter ale that was made with ginger. It had a nice spicy kick to it, and although usually not my style of beer, this one was quite balanced and very drinkable.

He thank both Chris and Mark for all of their answers and we hope to check in again with them soon and exchange some beers. Enjoy some pics below. And be sure to follow Breaker Brewing Co

Twitter at twitter.com/breakerbrew
Facebook at facebook.com/breakerbrewing

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