Thursday, September 20, 2012

Homegrown Hops - Harvest Is Near!

I have been scouring these trellis' for flowers the last month. The hops have climbed brilliantly but we are late into the typical North Carolina harvest period. I was beginning to think these first year plants weren't going to produce. Checked it out this past weekend (9/16/12) and there they were, the sand spur looking blooms I've been reading about! Success! The flowers are only on my cascade plant, hopefully the centennial follows suit real soon. I am hoping to get enough from this year's crop to flavor and dry hop batch #16.

Quick update on batch #15, MyCentennial.  The beer is AWESOME! Best beer yet! I have definitely decided that my best brews are those with high ABV. Maybe it's the buzz I get from drinking them or there is more to mask my brewing definciencies. Whatever the case, from here on I am brewing big beers so expect a buzz from Luke's Brews!

Cheers to homegrown hops and homebrew!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

North Carolina Craft Beer Boom

Just this year, three prominent craft breweries have announced they will be expanding into North Carolina. Sierra Nevada (Asheville), New Belgium (Asheville) and Oskar Blues (Brevard) will all be operational by early 2014.

Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale has long been my "staple" brew and is widely recognized as a pioneer in the craft brew movement. Two years ago, anywhere outside of Colorado, asking your waitress, "Do you guy's have Fat Tire?" would likely garner quizzical looks and a no in response. Now, it doesn't need to be asked...New Belgium is everywhere! Oskar Blue's can be given a lot of credit for the recent "craft in a can" explosion and Dale's Pale Ale is superb, a must try for anyone who hasn't tried it before.

These three craft brew behemoths expansion into North Carolina along with all of the North Carolina grassroots breweries (60+ as of June 2012) have our state recognized nationwide as a craft brew hot bed. This is exciting news for the future of craft beer in North Carolina.

I envision around April 6, 2020 there will be an announcement of a new craft brewery opening in the Blowing Rock, NC area. It's name....LUKE'S BREWS!!

Cheers to dreams and NC craft beer!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Batch #15 - MyCentennial

I came home from a weeks vacation and immediately got back to work! Although it is work, it's the work I enjoy...homebrew! Just before leaving for the beach, I added Centennial hops to the secondary for dry hopping. This Centennial hop addition was the fifth addition of this same hop varietal in this brew. MyCentennial and all of its Centennial hop additions will hopefully create a beer mimicking Bell's Two Hearted Ale and Founder's Centennial Ale. It's a robust IPA checking in at 6.5% and the first IPA I have brewed since batch #11. MyCentennial should be ready to drink around the first week of August.

The last couple of batches have been decent, but not anything to rave about. Both of those batches are of the lighter variety so for the next few batches, I'm going BIG! Perhaps an imperial stout of double IPA is on deck for batch 16...stay tuned.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Home Grown Hops

My hops are climbing! I planted hop rhizomes the first week in May and they are starting to climb the trellis. I have Cascade and Chinook varieties that will be perfect for flavor and aroma. Hops are usually ready to harvest in August, so a fresh homegrown hop fall seasonal will be on tap!
Cheers to home grown hops and homebrew!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Here's 1.4. Summer!

Batch 14, Here's 1.4. Summer, is in the bottle and will be ready to drink this weekend. This is a very similar recipe to 4 Summer Ale, a basic American Wheat Ale. Should be a good session brew pefect for warm weather consumption. I added a bit of a twist to a few growlers while bottling. We had some blueberries laying around so I decided to drop a few in for a fruit twist. Fruit flavors usually take well to wheat beers so hopefully the blueberry additions will mesh. Adding it at bottling won't change the taste of the brew too much, but should add some nice aroma. Father's Day is this weekend so I'll be tasting the results of the blueberry experiment and likely brewing batch 15.

Cheers and Here's 1.4. Summer!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Hiatus Is Over - Lucky 13

It's been an uneventful couple of months on the brew front. Batches will be coming in bunches this summer to keep up with days at the pool, beach vacations and cook outs!

Batch 13, called Lucky 13, was brewed a couple of weeks ago and is currently dry hopping in the secondary fermenter. This was brewed to be ready for the celebration of my brother in law Matt's graduation from Clemson. (I call it "Lucky" with Matt's parents in mind as this signals their riddance of one of two out of state college tuitions!!) Lucky 13 is a simple pale ale similar to Bass. I'm hoping for a lighter, easy drinking brew to share at graduation. It should also be well suited for warm days by the water to kick off pool season!!

Speaking of pool season, batch 14 will be brewed with Memorial Day in mind. A long weekend at the beach will require a couple mini kegs of another light, session beer. 4 Summer Ale was a good brew, perhaps my first repeat recipe is in store!

Whatever is brewed next is likely the last homebrew without fresh grown hops from my back yard. I planted a couple of varieties of hops two weeks ago which will hopefully be climbing the trellises and giving hops to pick and add flavor and aroma to future brews. The vines haven't even come out of the ground yet so at this point, that's wishful thinking. If they grow, we'll have homegrown hops for homebrew!!

Cheers to Matty D and the summer days ahead!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Luke's Brews Labels

A buddy of mine put this label together for me. Kind of freaky looking but I like it! Thanks Bmoe!!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Golf Trip '12

I am brewing this beer to serve at the 2012 annual golf trip at Myrtle Beach. Not being able to think of something I thought everyone would really enjoy, I decided instead to brew something that would get everyone drunk. This is a very robust porter that should turn in at around 7% ABV. The chocolate, honey and molasses used in the brew should give it a sweetness most will be able to at least suffer through if not really enjoy.

If the beer is not drinkable, it was still an exciting experiment. Not having brewed a beer this high in gravity, I was not prepared for the vigorous fermentation about to take place. I have read about "blow off tubes", which alleviate overpressure in fermentation tanks when dealing with high gravity beers. Well, about 5:30 AM two days after brew night, I am awakened by a loud hissing sound coming from my closet. As soon as I realize it is something to do with my beer, I jump out of bed, into the closet to see "krausen" (the foam/bubbles created during fermentation) spewing from the air lock on my ferment bucket. This is in my closet, so several shirts now have black sleeves! (of course I'd be brewing a dark porter not just some light brew) I check it out a little closer and the lid to this bucket is bowed up like the Superdome roof, getting ready to blow off!! Luckily, I store my brewing equipment in my closet with the fermenters and had some siphon tubing handy. Remembering the "blow off" method I'd read about, I removed the air lock (which spews this $hit all over me and the closet) and stick the tube in the lid of the bucket to relieve pressure. This worked, but dude, it was close to disaster! A few minutes more and that bucket lid would have blown, painting my closet in beer. Needless to say, that could have been the end of my homebrewing days as the wifey would mos def have cut me off!!

Anyway, the beer made it through fermentation without any other hiccups. I am moving it to the secondary fermenter Saturday, 1/21, dry hopping it 1/24 and bottling/kegging it 1/28. This will give it 6 weeks to condition prior to being tapped at the 2012 annual golf trip. Hopefully it is palatable. If it is, look out Dirty Myrtle, Golf Trip '12 will be creating quite a "buzz"!!