Tuesday, July 9, 2013

More harvest

And now, it's hops. Specifically, my Cascades--the "retired" ones, transplanted from their barrel into the ground.  They're not quite as tall as they'll probably get after another couple of years; easily 10' or so, but these plants have reached as high as 20' in the past.  Still, it looks like I'll get about a half-pound of "wet" hops from them--translate that to *maybe* two ounces dry.

The "new" hops, starting this year from rhizomes, are finishing out at about 4' tall, and not putting out burrs at all.  This is fine--as first year plants, they need to build their root systems.  Next year, hopefully, they'll really take off.

In other news, I've been playing around with water analysis, using inexpensive "home-testing" methods (as detailed here).  If I'm doing this right (and there's no guarantee that I am), I've got well water that is comparable in hardness to Plzen (that is, *extremely* soft).  I come out under 40ppm alkalinity as CaCO3, whether I'm testing filtered tap water, or water straight from the well (via the hose). What does this mean for my brewing?  Put simply, I can make whatever the heck I want.  Light-colored Pilsner-style lagers? Check (pun intended).  Darker, roastier beers?  A few water additions, and check.  It's not like starting from reverse-osmosis water, where you have to add stuff to get *up* to a Plzen profile, but at least I've got a good starting point.

A couple of things I'm thinking about, with regards to the water situation:  I'm still planning on getting a lab report done, at this point mostly to double-check my results.  If the lab says something different than what I've found, I'll believe them faster than my own results; I probably messed up the procedure (or the math) somewhere.  Also, in the long run, I intend to use collected rainwater, which will also be very soft (certainly softer than my well water).

Work on the Undisclosed Location is proceeding.  I've got over half of the decking down on Dante; once I finish that, and get a couple of ash trees cut down, I'll put up at least some of the pergola, then it'll be time to work on the roof.  That, fortunately, doesn't look nearly so dire as it once did; I've got to knock down an old, tottering chimney (saving the brick, of course), then patch a couple of spots (a new roof panel and some solder), and that's good.  Then it will be on to the doors...

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