I've been busy of late, so I haven't had much time to post blog entries about my home brewing. Luckily, I've been able to continue brewing and learning about home brewing. Here's a quick run down of my next three completed small batches.
Part 10 of many. View the start of my Vermont Brewery Challenge here.
Hill Farmstead Brewery is located in Greensboro in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Hill Farmstead was our original destination for driving this day, which we stopped at Rock Art Brewery on the way. I had never been to Hill Farmstead and based on beer
snobs enthusiasts, the brewery is a required pilgrimage for all beer connoisseurs. Shaun Hill, head brewmaster and founder, was featured in Vanity Fair last month and has been called the best brewer in America by several organizations and articles. While many of their beers are ranked in the top 1% of both US and World beers (by style), I've only sampled the few available on tap in Burlington (Edward, Abner, Anna).
Part 9 of many. View the start of my Vermont Brewery Challenge here.
Rock Art Brewery is located in Morrisville, just north of Stowe. We picked up a pair of free tasting coupons after donating some money towards the UVM Extension's Rollover Protection Structure (ROPS) Retrofit charity drive. Along with the free tastings, we got a free tour of the brewery, two glasses, and two beer cozies.
My fourth home brew was a Cranberry Wheat beer using fresh cranberries. I had hoped to make a seasonal beer using fresh, seasonal fruit, so I decided to try this recipe.
During my last batch, I missed by original and final gravities and I assumed it was related to my sparging process since I had a rather low mash efficiency. So this time, I increased the boiling, but... I later found out that wasn't my problem.
With home brewing and experiments, there's always a chance for the brewer to over compensate the wrong way and that's exactly what I did. I overcompensated in the wrong direction and on the wrong process.
After having mild success with my "easy to drink" single-hop Chinook IPA, I decided that I needed to increase the amount of hops and change the grain list. I've also been wanting to try a Honey IPA ever since I tasted Magic Hat Honey Wheat IPA at the Vermont Brewer's Festival 2012. Other than at the beer fest, the Magic Hat Honey Wheat IPA is only available on tap/growler at their South Burlington brewery.
My Vermont Brewery tours were delayed a bit due to spending most of our weekends doing home improvement projects and yard work. Also, during the last few months I did get a chance to launch http://www.vtbeer.org and develop a WordPress plug-in using RateBeer API. Finally, I got the chance to make another small batch (1 gallon) of beer.
Part 8 of many. View the start of my Vermont Brewery Challenge here.
To most, the Vermont Pub & Brewery is the heart of the Vermont craft beer establishment. The founder established the brew pub after lobbying the Vermont legislature for three years in an effort legalize brewpubs. He also wrote several books and articles on brewing. His brew pub became a place where he could experiment with different concepts in small batches that help kick start and energize the craft beer business in Vermont.
I've visited the brewpub a couple times before, but that was before I knew about the Vermont Brewery Challenge, so I decided to stop by, have a beer, and get my Vermont Brewer's Passport Card stamped.
A few days before my visit, the first batch of beer brewed exclusively with Vermont raised hops (part of the University of Vermont's All Vermont-Grains and Hops Project). The first beer was a Rye IPA and I was looking forward to trying it out, but when I arrived they informed me that it sold out within two days and that the next batch will be arriving soon, so I ordered a Bombay Grab IPA.
Part 7 of many. View the start of my Vermont Brewery Challenge here.
The Switchback Ale was another of my first Vermont beers. One thing that's nice about taking the Vermont Brewery Challenge is that it gives you a better understanding of both the local aspect of the breweries and the beer itself while allowing you to taste a few beers that you might have already had before.
The Switchback Brewing Company building looks like a big warehouse. There's a tiny parking lot and the entrance to the retail store and tasting area is on the side of the building and obscured from the street. Follow the small signs that say "Main Office" to find the entrance. The warehouse area and parking lot felt a bit strange, since most breweries have the office/store facing the parking lot with bigger signs indicating you're at the right place.
Part 6 of many. View the start of my Vermont Brewery Challenge here.
The Alchemist was the first brewery in Vermont that I visited. I found the The Alchemist Brewery & Pub during our (May 2011) wedding, and we wanted to stop by and try a few of their beers. However, we never got a chance to stop by before we left the region.
A few months later, we were in the process of moving to Vermont and the Alchemist Pub & Brewery was the first restaurant/brewery that I wanted to visit once we arrived. I arrived in Vermont two days prior to Hurricane Irene and I thought that I'll visit the brewery after the storm passes and that I'll just spend my first days in Vermont buying supplies and unpacking. However, Hurricane Irene (in September 2011) flooded the basement of the brewery where all of the tanks were stored and nearly destroyed everything.
Luckily for all of us, the owner (John Kimmich) decided not to give up after having his brewery nearly destroyed. Instead, he moved all of his operations to the Alchemist Cannery (about 1/2 mile away from Pub) which had been under development at the time of the hurricane. A few weeks after Hurricane Irene passed through, the Alchemist held a special event in their flood damaged building during the Waterbury Harvest Festival where we quickly picked up a few bottles of Heretic and Luscious and a "Hell or High Water" t-shirt to help the Waterbury Good Neighbor Fund. You can read more about the Alchemist in their blog archives. The Luscious won the silver medal in the British-Style Imperial Stout beer style category at the 2012 World Beer Cup.
Part 5 of many. View the start of my Vermont Brewery Challenge here.
The next brewery I visited was the Brewery at Trapp Family Lodge. We visited Stowe for some hiking, but we found the trails to be closed. So after our scenic drive over Smuggler's Notch, we decided to explore a bit. We had never been to the Trapp Family Lodge, and I was completely surprised when we arrived.
The Family Lodge has incredible views, a disc golf course, tons of trails, and lots of activities. I didn't realize the lodge was so large.