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Old 07-31-2012, 02:15 PM   #181
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Great stuff! I am planning to do the same process here soon and this has been a great help! Good Luck.

Also on the yellow hop leaves, when I had it happen to mine it was just a nitrogen deficiency. http://grow.corymathews.com/2012/yellow-hop-leaves/

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Old 08-06-2012, 03:52 AM   #182
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Also on the yellow hop leaves, when I had it happen to mine it was just a nitrogen deficiency. http://grow.corymathews.com/2012/yellow-hop-leaves/
Thanks for the kind words! And thanks for linking to your blog -- fantastic!

You know, your yellow leaves look like they turned yellow uniformly, whereas mine began at the petiole and worked their way outward toward the leaf margin. I think in my case, the yellow leaves were actually caused by an overabundance of fertilizer. I gave them two doses of 2.5g each 15-5-15, 8 days apart. I've never seen the yellow leaf problem show up again since then, so there's a pretty high correlation between the fertilizer and yellow leaves.

I still have no idea if this amount of fertilizer is too high, because it's very hard to find the total amounts of fertilizer people give their hops. Often, people will list the relative proportions of N-P-K without saying how much total they applied.

Can anybody chime in -- what's an appropriate amount of fertilizer to give each hop plant on a weekly basis?

While we're on the subject of problems, I came back from a week-long trip on July 9 to discover that the automated irrigation system for the hops had been turned off:



causing the bine death you see pictured above. To be fair to the perpetrator, one of the irrigation timers had sprung a leak, and I hadn't done anything about it before leaving town. Somebody who was likely well-meaning just turned the valve, shutting off water to the leaky controller and my hops.

Hey, this is part of the cost of growing on somebody else's land. The benefit is that I won't have to dig up my hops and start over ever year or two when I move house, and I don't have to purchase and maintain the irrigation system. Worth it!

In addition, it seems that most of my plants slowed their growth rate around the same time as the water stress. Now, this may be because of water stress, but it seems like hops generally slow down a few weeks after the solstice. Is that generally true? I've heard the anecdote several times that hops switch from vegetative to flowering mode around the solstice, but I've never heard someone commit to it as a hard rule. What do you guys think?

My Chinook plant gave an odd early harvest of just a few cones, which I've dried and stored:



But for enough to brew a 100% homegrown batch, it looks like I'll rely on my Glacier plant:



The rest of the plants don't have burrs in significant quantities. Eh, I guess it's a first-year plant thing. I was surprised, however, that four plants that I transplanted after one year of growth didn't produce more.

Meanwhile, a scrawny Cascade rhizome that I guerrilla planted and forgot about all season will be my second-biggest producer!







I guess things do depend highly on variety, and I'm guessing that there is a lot of epigenetic variability that we don't quite understand. For example, I hear a lot of stories of individual plants having a sort of "personality" that differs from the cultivar's typical behavior. My Columbus plant has now for 2 years in a row produced a handful of very early burrs then stopped growing. I guess to truly know if the variation were epigenetic or environmental, I'd need several more of each variety growing side-by-side.

***

Back to malting -- my solution for making caramel malt is this:

1) Soak 3x 8 hours with 6-8 hour rests in between
2) Germinate turning 2x/day at room temp until acrospires are 100% grain length
3) Soak the modified malt again for 6-8 hours. This step prevents scorching in the following steps. Just a reminder that for a base malt or a toasted / roasted malt, you would go straight to grain drying at this point and skip the secondary soaking. The grains should look plump and the rootlets should be white and tender. Any crispiness at this stage will lead to burnt malt in the next stages:



4) Stew the grains at 68C (154F) for 3 hours. I use a cooler and a 5-foot fermwrap with a temperature controller to achieve the temperature rest. It takes a very long time to reach 68C -- the ramp up to 68 plus the 3-hour rest takes about 24 hours. If your oven goes low enough, by all means stick it in a dish and cook it.

I layer the ferm-wrap with grains in the cooler, like making lasagna. This is so heat is distributed evenly. I usually make the layers of grains thicker as I go up, reasoning that most of the heat produced by the lower layers of ferm-wrap will convect updward:



then I stick the temp. controller's probe in the top:



and seal it up, wrapping everything in layers of blankets:



Dirty sock is optional, probably.

***

Cautionary interlude: Do not attempt to heat the grains in your cooler with a light bulb. It may be tempting to think: Hmm, 5 feet of ferm-wrap at 20 Watts / foot... that's more power than a 60W bulb. I'll just try mounting a bulb in a reflective housing to keep the grains from touching it directly, and all will be well:









It does not work.

***

5) Once the malt is converted (3 hours at 68C), extract it from the cooler and load it into baking dishes. You will probably have to do several rounds of baking if you're making a large batch. Cook the converted malt at 275F to caramelize. The length of time you cook it will determine how dark the caramel malt is. In my oven, 3.5 hours at 275F seems to produce a malt similar to Crystal 60L. This step will be highly variable depending on the type of oven you have. You even get a huge amount of variation within an oven. The malt on the right was cooked on the middle rack, while the malt on the left was cooked on the bottom rack:



For my oven, I have to cover the grains with foil to prevent the heating element from burning the top layer of grains:



I also have to add water to prevent the grains on the sides of the dish from scorching. Here is an example of some stuff I had to throw out!:



It is very hard to separate the scorched grains from the good ones when this happens, so just add enough water to avoid it entirely. I add about 3/4 liter to my baking trays, which hold about 5-7 lbs of dry malt. Some malting websites maintained by maltsters will instruct you to dry the malt as you kiln it. That is so wrong! Maybe that's how you do it with a commercial convection oven or whatever type of kiln they have in a malting house, but with your home radiant oven, the malt must be kept moist or it will quickly burn, even at 275F. However, after adding enough water and covering the dish, I don't need to turn the malt at all during the 3.5 hour baking. I just put it in and set a timer.

It's better to have a little too much water than not enough. You can end up with a little layer of caramel goodness at the bottom of your dish:



If it weren't for all the rootlets, you could put it on ice cream:



6) Now you can dry the malt. Go ahead and pour any liquid caramel that remains from the previous step onto the malt. As it dries, it will coat the grains in sugar, and that stuff will not be wasted. People love to build oasts for this step, but if you live outside of the humid East, you can get the grains dry enough to mill with a box fan and a few days of patience:



No matter how you do it, it's very important not to allow the grains to remain wet for long. They will mold quickly if moisture is allowed to remain on their surface. Spread the grains thin on a tarp or plastic garbage bag and turn the grains in the morning and evening for the first few days they are drying. This will prevent a solid outer shell forming around a liquid, moldy core. (Yes, it happened; sad. I had to throw out even more malt because of this!)

To accelerate the drying, I'm storing finished malt in a corn-drying room at the field. Let's hope I get enough finished and dried by Wednesday when the guys at Almanac need it! The goal is at least 50 lbs. of C60 malt. I started with 175 lbs, but malting at this scale has been a real challenge and I've had to toss out a lot of grains.

No matter what happens over the next few days, I've got enough grains still on plants at the field to go back and make at least one 5 gal batch of 100% homegrown!
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Old 08-06-2012, 05:09 AM   #183
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Almanac recently let me know that their brewday is August 8! Oh boy, it's time to cram in a lot of malting.
This whole time I've been following this thread I didn't realize you were a local boy! I love Almanac.. In fact I'm drinking a pale ale from their snifter glass as we speak. I just wish their beer was easier to find. I have a lot of good friends on the peninsula.
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Old 08-06-2012, 06:31 AM   #184
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This whole time I've been following this thread I didn't realize you were a local boy! I love Almanac.. In fact I'm drinking a pale ale from their snifter glass as we speak. I just wish their beer was easier to find. I have a lot of good friends on the peninsula.
It's hard enough to find on the Peninsula / SF! Where do you get Almanac in Ukiah? Can you find it on tap anywhere?
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Old 08-08-2012, 01:55 AM   #185
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Just dropped off 66 lbs of caramel malt, probably 60-75L, at Hermitage brewery in San Jose!

I walked in, and one of the Hermitage brewers said, "Is that it?"

Haha, yep, that's it:




Here are the last few steps leading up to the finished product:

A few days ago, I realized that the finished malt was not drying fast enough. It wouldn't actually be ready to be milled by today at the rate it was going. I had the malt stored in paper sacks in a dehumidified warm room kept at 105F. So to speed up drying, I ripped open the bags that still contained damp malt, and laid the grains out flat:









That did the trick, and everything was nice and crispy today.

Still, the grains were not rock hard, as my caramel malt usually is. They really could have spent another day or two drying before I would consider them to be shelf-stable. But it hardly matters since they'll be used tomorrow.

The next step is to separate the dry malt from the rootlets that formed during germination. These are called culms, and you can knock them off of dry malt by just stirring the malt in a bucket:



You don't need to use your clothes dryer or any mechanical means to knock off the culms unless the malt is much wetter.

Finally, do one last winnowing step in front of a box fan. You'll end up with a pile of a small amount of chaff and a whole lot of rootlets:



That's it -- from dirt to malt:



I'll try to take some good pics at the brewday tomorrow for Almanac's all-California beer, called Fresh Hop.

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Old 08-08-2012, 05:20 AM   #186
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Absolutely badass mate!

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Old 08-09-2012, 03:31 AM   #187
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Absolutely badass mate!
Haha, thanks mate! Feels really good to hear that!

Today was brewday! Luckily, there were two skilled brewers on hand from Hermitage / Tied House Brewery to take care of this 25 barrel mash tun:



and boil kettle:



We mashed in, and I was sure I could see my little caramel grains in there somewhere:



Maybe those small dark dots?



Hmm, maybe not.

But there they are!





Because the grains were still not bone dry when they went through the mill, most of them were not broken into pieces, but still broken open:



Some were not broken at all:



This could just be due to the mill, but I bet these grains would be below the plump cutoff if I had run them over a screen.

This was fun!



and the brewers were more than happy to let an enthusiastic home brewer rake out the mash tun. Anything is fun the first time, right?


Jesse Friedman from Almanac showed up with 80 lbs. of Cascade, Chinook, Ivanhoe, and Gargoyle (Gargoyle???) that were picked THIS MORNING in Lake County.





The Ivanhoe is a modern-day mimic of Cluster, and has a subdued aroma as you'd expect with American-type resiny and hop oil aromas. The Gargoyle on the other hand had a fruity grape-like aroma. It was really fantastic!

They promptly found their way, tags and all, into the mash tun, which was to be used as a hopback:



Meanwhile, in the boil kettle, this happened:



a scaled-up version of the meringue-like stuff you see right before your kettle boils, which lead to this:



I realize it's a bit tough to asses the color without a clear glass and some sense of scale, but let me tell you -- it was darker and more golden orange than you would expect from base malts alone. Even at 4-5% of the grist, I see the field in there!

From this point on, it's in the very capable hands of Peter and Greg, two brewers with Hermitage. Can't wait to taste it!

Now, on to that other goal: 100% homegrown
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Old 08-09-2012, 05:02 PM   #188
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Great thread!

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Old 09-04-2012, 11:11 PM   #189
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We have beer! Almanac's Fresh Hop is on tap in the Bay Area:

http://www.almanacbeer.com/ourbeer/c...resh-hop-beer/

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Old 09-05-2012, 12:00 AM   #190
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We have beer! Almanac's Fresh Hop is on tap in the Bay Area:

http://www.almanacbeer.com/ourbeer/c...resh-hop-beer/
Awesome! Now I've just got to figure out how to get down there before its gone...
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