For those that have been following the project on this site, social media or through the podcast you’ll know that the growing season is now behind me and if I haven’t got the hops and barley yet it’s not going to happen.
Well, you’ll be pleased to hear that I think I’ve just about done it. The wind, rain and storms that have plagued the summer have seen a serious drop in the amount of barley that I was able to grow – amounts like 25 – 30kg that were talked about at the start of Growing Beer quickly became fantasy and the actual harvest ended up being just under 8kg. This is likely to shrink further during the upcoming malting (taking place as I write) and whilst I’m not sure what the final figure will be, it will be enough for a brew, albeit a rather modest one.
The hops are a different story altogether though, they’ve produced more than enough of those all important cones. The Goldings and Perle had smaller harvests, but the Fuggles and UK Cascade varieties offered up a huge yield – each one more than able to brew the final beer with alone. Once picked, each variety was individually dried in a dehydrator to stop them from rotting, compressed into airtight bags (to reduce oxidation) and then popped in the freezer to preserve them for the brew later in the year.
Water is quite easy, as I’m collecting from the water butt and pumping it through a camping filter that will help to purify it ahead of boiling as part of the brew. Yeast is not as straight forward, but the good news is that I have found two different strains that are going to be used in some test brews over the next couple of days – neither of them are the strain I was hoping for, but they should ferment. How much they ferment, what impact they have on the beer and whether I’ll have to add in another, more traditional yeast alongside I don’t yet know.
It’s been a crazy year so far and nothing has gone quite as expected, but as it stands we’re just 2 weeks away from the final brew and 6 weeks from the tasting – when I’ll find out if all the efforts result in something that can pass as a drinkable beer. If you want to find out more about the various challenges don’t forget that the podcast is out now!