Gowanus Brewery

Defunct by Jeremy
August 17, 2009, 8:47 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Yes.  This site is defunct.  I am still brewing and my hops are growing out of control, but I don’t have any interest in keeping up with the blog for right now.  Might come back to it at some point…

Propagating Hops by Jeremy
October 13, 2008, 12:00 am
Filed under: hops

In the same spirit that united me with my Cascade rhizome cutting through the Yahoo! Grow Hops Group, I am attempting to propagate the hop plants in my garden to redistribute to the Yahoo! group and other friends.

The plan is simple. As you can see in the picture, I just took three long planter boxes, filled them with a mix of top soil and compost, and buried two bines in each box. They’ll sit outside all winter under a layer of mulch and next season, when it’s time to cut them up, I’ll unearth them and see what I’ve got.

If you click through on the picture, you’ll get a better view of the actual cuttings. I believe that each point generating leaves will transform into a point generating roots, so that, for every section with sprouting leaves, I’ll have a potential root cutting next year. I guess that I have about 10 cuttings total for each box here, if not more.

New Beer Labels by Jeremy
October 11, 2008, 12:00 am
Filed under: label

The single-X brew of the holiday three-pack is the Gowanus American Harvest Amber Ale.  Doesn’t the children’s handwriting scream “American”?  Like the others, this is an American-style beer.  I’m all about brewing and mastering American-style beers and so that was my inspiration for these labels.  

The label for the Gowanus Double IPA, the double-X brew, is messy.  More than anything, I think the design is just cool.  It fits the theme, though.  Beer and Olde English predate America by hundreds of years, but they’ve both been reclaimed by our West Coast.  The Double IPA was supposedly resurrected there and you might recognize Olde English as the font of choice for present and former members of the California penal system.

Strong ales, like barley and wheat wine, seem like the type of stuff the founders of our country might have set aside to enjoy on special occasions, so I incorporated some fonts reminiscent of quill-tipped pens, parchment paper, and so on into the Gowanus Strong Wheat Ale label.  This is obviously the triple-x beer of the pack.

As with my other labels, these were all drawn using GIMP, with some of the fonts coming from Dafont and brush designs coming from DeviantArt.

Gowanus Double India Pale Ale – Intro and Update by Jeremy
October 10, 2008, 12:00 am
Filed under: beer, double ipa, naming

I had some fun with this one.

This recipe is different from my first DIPA, which I didn’t realize until I went to unpack this kit, but all that doubt went away a couple weeks ago went I thiefed my first sample. This one is going to be outstanding:

  • 16 lbs. British Pale Malt
  • 0.75 lbs. Dingemans Caramel Pils
  • 0.25 lbs. Briess Caramel 120
  • 1 oz. Summit (60 min)
  • 1 oz. Centennial (30 min)
  • 1 oz. Cascade (10 min)
  • 2 oz. Glacier (0 min)
  • 1 oz. Cascade Hops (dry hop)

    I tweaked this one just like the Gowanus American Harvest Amber Ale.  But, instead of 1 ounce of oak, I used 2; and instead of boiling the garden hops, I threw them in during secondary (pictured). I should add that I actually dumped this beer from primary right onto the amber ale’s secondary bucket to get that first ounce of oak.  The GDIPA sat there for only about a week, before I siphoned it too off to a third bucket.

    This beer is going to taste great despite a couple of factors working against it.  First, I spilled about a pound of grain when I went to mash in.  Whoops.  Second, primary fermentation was active at the less-than-ideal temperature range of 80 to 84 degrees, but the ambient temperature here quickly dropped to the mid-sixties.  Perhaps partly due to those factors, my original gravity was only about 1.075, rather than the target 1.085.  But, as I said, it already tastes phenomenal!

    The specific gravity is at about 1.020 now and I’m just waiting for some free time to bottle it up.  It is going to be one of a three-pack of beers I send out for the holiday season: Strong Wheat, DIPA, & Amber Ale.

    American Harvest Amber Ale – Oaked! by Jeremy
    September 22, 2008, 12:00 am
    Filed under: amber ale, beer

    Last night, I moved the Gowanus American Harvest Amber Ale off the oak to finish secondary (tertiary?).

    I thiefed a taste while I waited for the beer to finish siphoning out of the carboy.  To my surprise, I didn’t notice any Home Depot-y flavors, but the beer is significantly drier on the back end.  I was intentionally conservative with the oak because I only wanted a tweak from it (and I didn’t want to have to age the hell out of it in case I over did the oak), so I added an ounce of oak chips and let it sit for a week.  I’m anxious to try the end product to really see what effect the oak has here.

    By the way, the gravity is at 1.014, down from 1.045 and ambient temperatures have been in the low 80s, although in the last week they’ve dropped to the mid 70s.

    Gowanus American Harvest Amber Ale by Jeremy
    September 6, 2008, 12:00 am
    Filed under: all-grain, amber ale, beer, hops, naming, northern brewer, recipe

    A new season; a new brew.

    The “Harvest” of the Gowanus American Harvest Amber Ale is represented, pitifully, by the half-ounce of fresh hops I pulled off the garden this season. I say pitifully, because that’s the entire harvest. A small harvest is typical, though, for newly-planted hops, which can take up to two seasons to reach their full potential.

    Still, a half ounce of garden hops is kinda weak for a harvest ale, especially considering that the ratio for fresh hops to pellets, which recipes tend to assume, is 5 to 1. So, to cover all my bases, I’ll add that the spent grain went to the compost for next year’s harvest. So, we’re agreed. It’s harvesty.

    Anyway, the beer. I bought the all-grain American Amber Ale kit from Northern Brewer, which they describe as follows:

    It’s not quite an alt; it’s not quite a pale ale. Our American Amber borrows from German and British brewing traditions to make a beer that’s uniquely American, perhaps similar to the ales our forefathers brewed in the colonial days. Hearty and smooth, this beer improves greatly with a little extra aging, if you’re patient enough.

    It includes 8 lbs. 2-row pale malt, 1 lb. Munich malt, and 1 lb. Caramel 60, 2 oz. Cascade hops (60 mins.), 1 oz. Cascade hops (15 mins.), and an American Ale yeast. I modified the recipe to include a quarter ounce of home-grown Centennial and a quarter ounce of home-grown Cascade for aroma (the Willamette has yet to flower). I’m also going to put 1 ounce of oak chips on this beer during secondary for about a week to add enough extra tweak to feel like I can really call it my own.

    Will tell you how it turned out in about six weeks!

    Hop Garden Update by Jeremy
    August 20, 2008, 12:00 am
    Filed under: hops

    The hop plants have been booming!

    The one pictured is the Centennial and it’s climbed well above seven feet. The Willamette is only about five feet high now, but it has a lot of, ahem, girth. The Cascade, on the back fence, is going the best, though I have it set up on a T-shaped trellis, so I can’t say how tall it is. As a guess, I’d put it 15 feet, if it were growing straight up.

    All of them have at least some burrs that will become hops soon. The Cascade is ahead of the back with a few dozen well-formed hops hanging all over the place. The others not so much, but, hey, that they survived their journey to Brooklyn at all is remarkable.

    Raspberry Bushes Doing Fine by Jeremy
    August 19, 2008, 12:00 am
    Filed under: raspberry wheat

    The raspberry bushes I planted at the beginning of the summer are finally starting to take off. Well, all but one, anyway.

    The healthiest of the five bushes is about three feet tall now and, as you can see in the picture, is about to put out the first harvest of raspberries. Three of the five are doing nearly as well and should fruit at around the same time, so in total I might have enough yellow raspberries to do the yellow raspberry beer I wrote about at the beginning of the year. The fifth plant, the one closest to the swimming pool, has not grown much since it went in the ground. It is still alive, though, so I assume if it survives the winter it will do better next year. We shall see!

    Hop Garden and Strong Wheat Update by Jeremy
    July 23, 2008, 12:00 am
    Filed under: beer, hops, strong ale

    I have been quite busy setting up a new business, so this little hobby of mine has been riding the pine.  There is news to report, though.

    All three of my hop plants–the Willamette, Centennial, and Cascade–are growing well, if not quickly.  If you zoom in on the picture posted here, you might be able to see a single, solitary bine inching up the back fence and a few feet of bines creeping up the hop trellis in the middle on the left.  They are quickly proving to be hardy and happy.  In the last week or so, they started growing at a pace of about an inch a day.  Plus, the Willamette and Centennial are starting to send out side shoots, a sign of good health I believe, though I do have to clip those to force the plant to focus on growing upwards.

    The Strong Wheat is also progressing nicely.  I’ve had about six 12-ounce bottles by now and each one is better than the last.  Unfortuneatly, the carbonation is on the high side and actually may prevent me from aging the beer as long as I’d like to, if it continues to build.  The last thing I want to be dealing with is a shelf full of syrupy-beer bombs.  There will be more on this brew in the future when I find time to do a proper writeup.

    Gowanus Strong Wheat Ale – Bottled by Jeremy
    June 21, 2008, 12:00 am
    Filed under: beer, competition, strong ale, wheat

    Last night, I bottled the Gowanus Strong Wheat Ale and stole another taste.

    It was even better than before.  The flavors have all mellowed since before going into secondary, as they should have.  Another round of fermentation started after transferring the beer and lasted for over a week.  The wheat and honey and even the hops are all noticeable in the flavor and aroma.  The color has darkened a bit and the body isn’t quite as thick as it was before.  In fact, it reminded me a slightly thinner, more drinkable version of the Smuttynose Wheat Wine Ale that I reviewed months ago.  And, with a final gravity of 1.024 and an alcohol by volume of 10.1%, it packs an alcohol wallop in the nose even without carbonation.

    I made a lot of this beer and, after bottling, now have 47 bottles on hand.   Eleven of these bottles are larger than 12 ounces, too.  I have four short Sierra Nevada Pale Ale 24-ounce bottles, three regular 24-ounce bombers, and four tall 16-ounce bottles from some cheap Polish beer.  If I had used all standard-size bottles, that would be 56 bottles total–my largest haul yet!

    I’m in the process of designing a label for these bad boys.  Achieving the right level of bad-assery is proving a challenge.  Of course, I plan to leave some unlabelled to enter in competition later in the year.