Gowanus Brewery

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.

Hop Garden – It’s Alive! by Jeremy
June 21, 2008, 12:00 am
Filed under: hops

They may be hard to spot in these pictures, but what you see before you is three sprouted hop rhizomes. That’s right. Despite all the ups and downs, they’re alive!

The two plants on the left are planted on either side of the hop trellis and will eventually grow up twine lines stretched from the deck to the top of the trellis.  The Centennial is the larger of the two and the other is the Willamette.  The plant on the right is the Cascade I received from the Yahoo! Grow-hops Group recently.  It’s the one that survived weeks sitting in a cardboard box during a massive heat wave.  I have it planted in the back of the yard in the center of a fence where, eventually, there will be a section of wood lattice for it to cling to as it grows up.

As you can see, none of them have the benefit of great-looking soil.  All of the soil in this part of Brooklyn is rich in clay and dense, because–and I’m serious now–millions of years ago a glacier removed all of the top soil in its path, revealing the layer of clay-rich soil we have today.  The soil in the back of the yard has, however, been under plastic for over four years, so it actually might be relatively nutrient-rich.  Anyway, we’ve got a compost bin on the way and I should have better soil to work with by mid-summer.

Gowanus Strong Wheat Ale – Transferred to Secondary by Jeremy
June 20, 2008, 12:00 am
Filed under: beer, competition, strong ale

I transferred the Gowanus Strong Wheat Ale to secondary a couple weeks ago and stole a taste while doing it.

Tasting a beer like this at such an early stage obviously won’t tell you much about how it will taste six months down the line, but it is still fun to do because you get can get some broad outlines of how the beer will turn out.  For example, I could really taste the honey here, unlike in the Gowanus Strength German Wheat.  The color was caramel-ly, although it’s hard to tell in this photo, and looked similar to the Smuttynose Wheat Wine Ale.

I will be bottling soon and I’m already looking forward to another taste test!

Gowanus Strength German Wheat – Kegged by Jeremy
June 19, 2008, 12:00 am
Filed under: beer, kegerator, review, wheat

Last weekend I dumped the Gowanus Strength German Wheat into a keg and hooked it up to the keggerator.  Result:  tasty beverage.

The beer, which had a final gravity of 1.006, is fairly light and has the distinct banana and clove characteristics of a German wheat beer.  It is cloudy and gold in the glass and retains a tall creamy head.  Overall it’s very good and refreshing, but I’m sad to say that I’m having trouble picking out any flavor or aroma contributions from the honey or hops.  Maybe a side-by-side with commercial German wheat beer without honey is in order.

If in the future I decide to make another batch of strong wheat ale and have the opportunity to make batch of beer like this again, I think I would experiment with a different yeast and other adjuncts.  This is a good beer, don’t get me wrong, but I just don’t think the German wheat style does it for me.

Fortunately, we have a couple folks coming over for the Mermaid Parade this weekend, so I will have plenty of help finishing off this brew.

Hop Garden Tribulations by Jeremy
June 13, 2008, 12:00 am
Filed under: hops

It has been a wild ride getting my hop garden live this season.

Last I reported, I had given up on the first two rhizomes I planted, the Willamette and Centennial. After more than a month, they hadn’t broken ground and, after excavating them, I didn’t see any signs of life in them. I figured they were kaput and my only consolation at the time was that I had won a Cascade rhizome in the Yahoo! Grow-hops Group that was on its way. So much has changed since that update.

The first thing that happened was a total reversal of circumstances. My girlfriend noticed earlier in the week that the Centennial had actually broken ground! It was a huge surprise and made me check out the Willamette too–it appeared to be coming back as well, though it hadn’t actually sprouted yet. The weather has been especially warm lately, so I guess that’s what woke them up. Now I had two viable rhizomes in the ground and a third that was supposed to be on its way. I quickly realized though that it was long overdue. I tracked it online and it turns out that it was delivered weeks prior, despite never reaching my hands.

So, where I once had two dead plants on my hands and one live one on its way, I had two live plants in the ground and one missing in action. I was bummed about missing that delivery, but only until yesterday. My girlfriend had more good news for me. She noticed a weather-beaten box near our neighbor’s trash cans that had my name on it. You can guess what was inside.

I planted the Cascade last night in the best, richest soil we have in the yard. I’m not certain that it survived weeks of rain and 100-degree plus temperatures, but at this point anything’s possible!