One of the things that made the biggest impact on me during last week's Craft Brewers Conference in Boston was the Organic Panel Discussion.
A wider variety of base and specialty malts have become available, giving brewers a bigger palette of ingredients to create with without sacrificing the taste and quality of the beer just for the sake of going organic. More and more organic hops are becoming available (both in the marketplace as well as "homegrown" hops.) The downside is that organic ingredients cost more, but the benefits, to me, outweigh that increased cost. (Ten good reasons to go organic can be found here, dig deeper if interested).
My little part-time nanobrewery isn't getting a whole lot of beer out as it is, but my tiny bit, while but a drop in the proverbial bucket, is my responsibility. So, I'll be transitioning to organic, sustainably-produced ingredients. It will take a little time as I work through my current inventory of raw material, but I'll be working towards becoming certified organic in the future. Not much happens overnight with my part-time schedule, but I consider this a journey worth taking.
Stay tuned for updates on my progress towards organic.
Before rushing out the door yesterday morning to catch a train to Boston for the Craft Brewers Conference, I checked in again on how the yeast was doing with Saturday's wort (turning it into Hefeweizen). The airlock in one of the fermenters blew off, and there are some nice stains on the ceiling thanks to the force that must have built up (note to self -- gotta move to blowoff tubes, at least for the vigorously-fermenting wheat beers). There also was a nice bit of wort on the floor. Floor to ceiling, it looks like it was some fun party for the yeast.
The yeast (White Labs WLP300) is happily working on turning yesterday's wort into tomorrow's HefeWeizen (OK, not technically "tomorrow" -- give the little buggers time to do the job).
This afternoon I brought the spent grains from yesterday's back-to-back batches of Harborfields Hefeweizen to the one remaining cow at the old (and now preserved) Lewis-Oliver Dairy in Northport. The cow (named "Half Pint" -- which ya gotta love) wasn't too keen on the 50-50 blend of spent wheat and barley, so I gave it to the pig instead.
Along with some other duties and commitments, I needed to get some cleaning done for a fermenter tonight, so was unable to attend the one-night "live" showing of Beer Wars. I'll be needing that fermenter for Saturday when I brew some of the Harborfields Hefeweizen. I'm hoping to catch a future screening of Beer Wars, but I'm certainly missing out on the communal experience tonight.
Before cleaning that fermenter (keeping ahead of the setting sun), I trimmed back some of the hops, leaving just the longest three bines growing out of each rhyzome. The Centennial, Chinook, and Fuggles are all coming back strong so far. The Hallertauer not much yet. No signs of the Willamette. I'm hoping it didn't get destroyed when we were putting up the greenhouse a few months back. (There might be some poetic injustice there.)
Will be bottling up some more of the Hellsmoke Porter (before heading off to the "regular job" tomorrow, if I get up early enough). I was planning on retiring the Hellsmoke Porter for the year now that warmer weather is approaching, but something happened when I drew a small sample tonight to check the carbonation level. My wife tastes some, and remarks on the hint of dark chocolate that she's noticed in previous batches. Recalling my affection for vanilla ice cream in a Guinness, she suggests I put some ice cream into the remaining sample. Damn, it's good. Summertime pints of Hellsmoke Floats are now dancing in my mind, so I might not retire this beer just yet.
Finally! I delivered some more Hellsmoke Porter on the way home from work last night to Big Z Beverage (http://www.bigzbeverage.com) on Jericho Turnpike. Tonight I'll be heading out to Bellport to deliver some to Dave's Bellport Cold Beer & Soda (http://bellportbeer.com/).
A sincere thank you to everyone for being patient. This part-time, one-man, 1/3-barrel nanobrewery hasn't been cranking out lots of beer, but I am exploring options that I can use in my existing space (and schedule) to increase my output six-fold.