Sunday, August 14, 2011

Nugget Harvest

I harvested my Nugget hops today with the help of my 3 year old daughter. After drying I ended up with a little over 3lbs which is much better than last year, and the hop cones were much larger this year as well.  Can't wait to split up the rhizomes and hopefully double the amount again next year.  More importantly, I can't wait to brew with these hops, they smell great!

Friday, July 29, 2011


Sorry this post is totally unrelated to beer or homebrewing, but I just had to share.  I was taking a keg out of my garage to put outside for cleaning yesterday evening, and found this guy (or girl - I'm not sure which) by my side door.  Needless to say my heart skipped a few beats and I think I may have actually screamed like a little girl.  That is to say if little girls scream "Holy Sh*t!".  I guess these are fairly common in the hills and wilderness around here, but this is the first I've ever seen one. 

Maybe it was after my beer.  I'll have to name a homebrew after it.  Will be releasing it later today out in the hills where my running trail is.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

2011 Hop Crop

My two year old Nugget hops have taken off like gangbusters this year.  It is looking like I may have 10X the amount of hops as last year.  

It's funny to see reactions of people who come to my front door when they see the hops.  Most people wouldn't know what hop plants look like.  But almost everyone seems to know what a marijuana bud looks like. When they see the big hop buds they get a very puzzled/interested look on their faces.  "Can this guy really be growing pot in his front yard?!"   The A/C repair guys came out last week and I could see them eyeing the hops before I got to the door and questioning each other about what they were.  I answered the door and they clammed up.  I mentioned that I saw them looking at the plants and mentioned that they were hops for brewing beer.  One of them replied - "Oh cool.  We thought they were something else - but beer is good too!"

Anyway, here are some photos of my Nugget hops..

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Homebrewing: It's in My Latvian Blood

I was recently leafing through some of the memoirs written by my grandfather, who was from Latvia. Though most of the memoirs are in Latvian and have yet to be translated, there was a particularly interesting passage describing his obligatory entry into Latvian military in 1928.  He had been selected for the main headquarters company in Riga, which was tasked with guarding the Presidential palace, Ministry of Defense, and Parliament.  He describes his first day as a soldier:

"We repeated the oath being read by the company clerk.  We signed the oath with our right hand while holding a rifle in the left.  Thus, we became full-fledged soldiers in the Latvian army who would be responsible for order and freedom of Latvia, and give our lives to protect it. Then we paraded in front of the officers.  After that we were given a feast:  soup, roast, vegetable, rice pudding with cranberry sauce, and a bottle of beer.  That was my first bottle of beer that I had tasted.  Up to then I had only had home brewed beer."

My father had told me that typically, at least in the farming communities where my family was from, beer was brewed by the women of the household as part of the regular cooking and household duties.  In addition to brewing for the household, it was especially important for the many different festivals such as the St. John's day celebrations.  All the different households would bring their home brewed beers.  So there was much variety, both from household to household, but also by region as well.

I've always thought about trying to brew a Latvian style of beer but don't speak Latvian, and haven't been able to find an authentic looking recipe. (Most I have seen are from Estonia or Lithuania)  From what I have seen, I imagine the beers were probably wheat based, bittered with whatever flowers or herbs were native to the area.  Would appreciate any information, if anyone happens to know of styles or recipes representative of the type of farmhouse beer that would have been brewed in the late 1800's and early 1900's in Latvia.

Uz veselību!