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Condzella's Hops

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Resolution for the new year: Be better about keeping up on the old Brewhouse Blog.

Have been busy, still working on the expansion plans while holding down the “regular” job -- but am getting closer. Had a bit of a slowdown after Hurricane Sandy and some recent family health issues, but will be getting back into more action soon.

Had a great visit with John Condzella Jr at Condzella's Farm in Wading River yesterday, with a tour of his hop yard and some beautiful samples of his Cascade and Mt Hood hops.

He'll be planting more varieties for 2013, I'm looking forward to brewing with them!

Hops, Hellsmoke, and Hefeweizen

Thursday, April 16, 2009

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.

Local Hops C.S.A.?

February 10, 2009

This is still in the embryonic stage, but I've been in contact with two certified-organic farmers on Long Island's north fork about the possibility of growing hops using a CSA model. If any local brewers (homebrewers or commercial) are interested, let me know via my contact page.

For those not familiar with what a CSA is, those letters stand for Community Supported Agriculture. Essentially, folks buy shares in an agricultural venture. This is generally mutually beneficial to both the farmer and the members of the CSA: The farmer gets financial benefits up front, and the members get good, local produce. Both risk and benefits are shared, as there is no guarantee of outcome -- something that farmers usually have to face on their own.

If you care about where your food comes from, and are interested in keeping at least parts of Long Island agricultural, then a CSA might be for you. (For more about local CSAs, you might want to check

What I'm envisioning for the hops CSA is that members would be responsible for picking and packaging their own hops. Perhaps there could be a hops harvest party, with members picking and weighing out the harvest together. (This seems like a good opportunity for an after-harvest beer party, with brewers bringing along some of their brews to share.) Something to keep in mind is that it usually takes more than one season to get a decent yield.

Hoppy Days are Here Again?

It might be premature to sing the song just yet, but here is some encouraging news from International Brewing Industry News (

There’s good news emanating from the hop fields of the Czech Republic: according to the country’s Hop Growers Union, after two years of disastrous yields, the hop harvest will be around the long term average. Total production will be around 6,500 tonnes, with the Saaz variety accounting for the majority of the harvest at 5,300 tonnes. That’s almost a 1,000 tonne improvement over the 2007 total of 5,631 tonnes. Acreage for all varieties has held constant, at 5,335 hectares in 2008 compared to 5,389ha in ’07. There has been some redistribution between varieties, with additional land for Sladek and Premiant verities at the expense of Saaz. That said, Saaz remains the Czech hop of choice, accounting for an estimated 4,738ha this year. Not all the news is positive, at least from the perspective of Czech growers. Gains in contract prices, notes the Hop Growers Union, have been offset by increases in the cost of fuel, fertilisers, electricity and other essentials. There are also exchange rate woes - more than 80% of the hop crop is exported, a problem given the Czech currency’s recent appreciation against the euro.

Between the higher costs for transport and the poor shape of the U.S. dollar, I don't expect hops to be cheap, but at least more will be available. Some hops can't be had for love or money.

I'll share any domestic hop news as I find it.

Hops, Yeast, and Smoke

Was able to pick some of the Chinook hops after work yesterday, to add to the Centennial hops picked in July. There should be more of both varieties as the season progresses, along with some not-as-yet-pickable Nugget hops. While I planted some Hallertauer, Fuggles, and Willamette this Spring, I'm not expecting much yield from those this year.

The yeast is happily working away at Saturday's test batch. Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be able to brew this weekend (will be attending this Saturday's North Fork Craft Beer Festival -- as a spectator -- and Sunday is somewhat booked up.)

Sunday should see me smoking some more grain in preparation for the next brewing of the Old Walt Smoked Wit Beer.

Weekend Update: More Hops, Kegging, and Another Test Batch

Picked some more of the Centennial hops on Saturday, and I did a bit more cleaning and sanitizing of equipment and fermenters in preparation for brewing on Sunday. Can't overclean or oversanitize, but sure can ruin a batch if something isn't completely clean.

On Sunday, while mashing another test batch of the 6ixth Sense Ale, kegged up the last test batch. More about that kegged-up batch in a day or three...

Weekend Update: First Pickings of Hops

The temperature in the fermentation room was gradually raised each day this past week for the yeast working on the test batch of the 6ixth Sense Ale. The room started at 64ºF last Sunday, and reached 80ºF this Sunday.

Spent much of Saturday cleaning and sanitizing.

Sunday, was able to pick just under a pound of the Centennial hops. More hops to follow as the season progresses.
Image of Hops growing up against skyImage of harvested hops in a basket

Centennial is one of the "citrusy C" varieties, and is sometimes called a super Cascade.

The New Rhyzomes Are Here...

The new rhyzomes are here!

Just arrived from Oregon, Fuggles, Hallertauer, Mt. Hood, Sterling, and Willamette. I'll be planting these along with the established Chinook, Centennial, and Nugget.

Ahhh... Spring is coming...

Great Time to Start a Brewery

More news about hop shortages, this time via an NPR story this morning

Give a listen here.

I have grown some hops the last few years as a homebrewer, but have placed
an order for a whole lot more of various hop rhyzomes to plant in Spring 2008
for cultivation and use.

Home Grown Hops image

It may take a second season before I have a decent yield, and even then -- even at
my small scale of brewing -- I'll likely need to purchase hops.

There might be a bit less of the hoppy Long Island Pale Ale 2 than I had hoped.

Beyond the Pale?

Have been debating about changing the recipe for the Long Island Pale Ale, which has been -- during my homebrewing days -- a hoppy India Pale Ale rather than a less-hoppy American Pale Ale.

I enjoy both styles, and so have decided to split the Blind Bat Long Island Pale Ale into two different beers.

Long Island Pale Ale (sailboat) will be an American Pale Ale.
Long Island Pale Ale 2 (speedboat) will be a higher-ABV, hopped up IPA.

Long Island Pale Ale label image Long Island Pale Ale 2 (Hopped Up!) label image

This is all, of course, pending a license being granted by NY State as well as label approval by the Federal TTB. While a license to brew has been granted by the Federal TTB, each and every beer offered for sale needs label approval (which also includes ingredients and recipe approval -- for the protection of a nation of beer drinkers).

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