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Ex Novo Beer

Boca Verde IPA

Just a quick blurb about my most recent brew, again I apologize for not being more of a blogosauras*, but things are crazy busy right now. Boca Verde IPA: Brewed 4/25

  • Expected OG: 1.068
  • Actual OG: 1.072 (my efficiency has been too good lately!)
  • IBU: 90+
  • Expected FG: 1.016
  • Actual FG: 1.015
  • ABV: 7.5%
  • Fermentables: Pale 2-Row, American Wheat, Carapils and Turbinado sugar.
  • Hops: Bittering – Columbus.   Flavor/Aroma – Centennial, Citra, Simcoe. Dry Hop – Citra, Simcoe, Columbus
  • Yeasties: WLP001 California Ale

Suffice it to say I've never used this many hops in an IPA before, the flameout/whirlpool hop additions were insane! That makes it a fairly expensive beer to make, and my expectations are high. Sampled tonight upon kegging and adding the second round of dry hops, and it was good enough for some serious fist pumps by myself in the garage. Could be the best beer I've ever made...we'll have to see.

*one who blogs a lot

6/2/13 Edit: Not the best beer I've ever made. Certainly a good beer, but there was a CO2 issue in my system and the kegs sat flat for a few days, that's what I'm blaming on the change in flavor and aroma from my first tastes.  Will try this beer again though, probably knocking off ~.8%ABV and 20IBU.

Lookin for a Home

Tomorrow I head out with my commercial realtors from Cresa to look at 5 or 6 potential locations - what will we find? A perfect warehouse space? Former Dairy Queen glory? The remnants of an old meat locker waiting to be restored? I don't know but I'm pumped to get the search officially underway; despite our 58 breweries, Portland still has pockets aching for a killer brewery that also scratches the change-the-world-itch. In brewing news, I've brewed another batch of Rufus Red which is predictably good. I've also been experimenting with some new hops via single-hop pale ales - so far I've done Ahtanum and Delta, I haven't tried the Delta yet but the Ahtanum is really tasty. Session-city with light fruit and floral flavors, it leaves nothing on your tongue but the desire for one more sip....I also brewed a Saison-Wheat-Pale hybrid with Amarillo hops that I modified from Drew Beechum (a Saison wizard) and the two carboys finished at an FG of 1.004 and 1.002! Crazy dry, crazy refreshing and wonderful. Could make a few tweaks, but it just might end up being a staple.

In life news: IMG_0089

I can't believe I'm a dad, it's incredible.

Catching Up

Apologies for the blogging hiatus all you on the edges of your seats, this may not satisfy, but I needed to post something to catch up. What's been going on in beer and breweries: Events:

1.) Board-member Mike and I went to a few Zwicklemania events, this is a super-fun day for people that like breweries - you get to tour breweries, I got a lot of great input from brewmasters, and you get loads of free swag and samples (HUB was the most generous by far). Don't miss it next year - WE MIGHT BE OPEN BY THEN!IMAG0995

2.) Grocery-Store Blind IPA Tasting. Always fun to nerd out and taste 10 regular ol' IPAs and rate them while trying to guess what you're having. So humbling, I got 2 out of 10 right and strongly supported the drinkable Bridgeport IPA. 10 Barrel Apocalypse won the night for me personally, pretty solid beer. Check out the host Dustin's blog for the full recap.

Brewing:

Since last post I've brewed the Rufus Red (one of my favorites), a German Pilsner which will be ready in like 8 weeks, and a single-hop pale with Ahtanum hops. Let me know if you want the recipes, no time to get into that now. I entered my recent IPA - the "Father Figure" in the blind IPA tasting, and despite not personally liking it very much at all, it beat out a few heavy-hitters, so that's always a good time.

Brewery:

Momentum has slowed a bit, I'm still waiting to hear back from the State that we've been approved as a nonprofit corporation, I feel like that is the last step really needed before kicking off fundraising. Yes, we need your money. We're up to five committed board members at this point, and that is perhaps the most exciting thing to me right now, spreading this vision and getting others excited and talking about it on their own. I'll do a post introducing those involved at some point.

Lastly, I don't know if you've heard of the Facebook or not, but if you have, Like us so we feel better about ourselves and you get more Ex Novo info.

Not There Yet

I tried to sneak one in and put two of our staple beers (Continuous Pale and Rufus Red) on the beer rating website Ratebeer and I was happy they let me register Ex Novo to add my beers - mostly to put a claim on the names. Looks like they do their research though, as they were taken down within 24 hours - seems they only want "legitimate" "breweries." Soon enough Ratebeer, soon enough. In other news, I've been working on an IPA recipe that I really believe in. Despite being my favorite variety of beer, I don't feel like I've ever nailed down an IPA that I want to staple-ize. This one will feature the brand-new hop variety Belma, out of Yakima county. The producer's description reads like this:

"A very clean hop, with a very orange, slight grapefruit, tropical (but not mango/guava, more like pineapple), strawberry, and melon."

Let's do this thing.

Completion IIPA Review

Completion IIPA Review

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It's been awhile since I reviewed one of our own beers, as it turns out I'm well pleased with this Double IPA  we have - it turns 2 months old today and it is really coming along nicely. If you hate hops, you will HATE this beer. We did not skimp at all with the late kettle additions and dry hops on the Completion, and the result is a super flavorful, easy to drink big beer that I will be lament being out of. Using the RateBeer system, here are my thoughts - add yours if you've come over to try it...IMG_20121205_114819

This guy finished at 8.2%, 116 IBUs, 1.017 FG

Appearance (4/5): Pours a gorgeous light orange with some ruby hues, good white head on it.

Aroma (8.5/10): Big hop aroma: Grapefruit, Pine and Tropical Fruits all up in your nose

Taste (8/10): Definitely on the hop-focused side of balanced, bitter but not harsh. Citrus and fruit flavor picked up on the nose.

Palate (3.5/5): A little too bitter, but the taste doesn't linger, smooth for a IIPA, no alcohol 'heat'

Overall (17/20) I think it's pretty great, especially for a first attempt. It's a hop showcase, the Pacific Jade and Amarillo dominate, with the citrus and pine flavors filling in the gaps. Next version I suggest we take 15-20 IBUs off and leave everything else the same.

Hope I have some left for our Christmas party...

Red Wednesday Recap

Red Wednesday Recap

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Super smooth brew day yesterday - whipped up 10 gallons of our NW Red Ale, which will be one of the staples going forward and needs a name badly. I liked Redemption Red, but it's already taken by these creepers. Any ideas? Specs: 1.065 OG, 65 IBUs, 16 SRM

Ingredients:

  • Malts: Pale 2-Row, Munich Dark, Caramel 80 and Caramel 120
  • Hops: Bittering – Centennial.   Flavor/Aroma – Simcoe. Dry Hop - Cascade, Simcoe
  • Yeasties: Wyeast 1056 slurry

It was a busy night too; kegged some of our Christmas beer, transferred the Continuous Pale to secondary and made the chalkwall more awesome: 

Enjoy the turkey, football and family today. Gobble Gobble.

Tuesday Night Recap - Spice Wars

Smooth brewing last night, showed the cold and rain who's boss by shifting all operations into the garage - which is conveniently where the taps are located... Specs on our Wee Heavy Christmas Ale: OG: 1.083, 30IBU, 22 SRM.

Ingredients:

  • Malts: Pale 2-Row, Maris Otter Pale, Brown Sugar (shugga), Special B, Caramel 80 and Roasted Barley.
  • Hops: Bittering – UK Goldings.   Flavor – Fuggles
  • Yeasties: WLP028 Edinburgh Scottish Ale
  • Spices in Boil: Cinnamon and Clove
  • Fresh ginger and lemon zest to go in secondary

We missed our target OG by 3 points on the low side, which doesn't matter much with a big beer like this one. Seven weeks from now we'll be sipping this at our Christmas party in high form, making elaborate toasts and debating foreign politics.

We also dry hopped our Imperial IPA and gave it a sample, so far it's delicious and promising - making good beer is so much more fun than not making good beer.

 

Wee Wish You a Merry Christmas

Wee Wish You a Merry Christmas

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It's an off-schedule brew night tonight as we usually try to stick to 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of the month. I'm blaming this one on Dan although I can't prove anything.... We'll be brewing a new style, a Wee Heavy (strong Scotch ale) with a Christmas twist. Big beers like this one, especially ones with spices, need time to mellow out and have the flavors get to know each other - hence we're brewing holiday beer in October.

Grab a friend or spouse and come out tonight if you read this blog - we're pushing to have brew nights be more social and even fun for people who don't care about making beer. We'll be getting started a bit early, but anytime from 6-8 would be a good time to come by.

Imperial Brewing

Dan, Gregory and I held down the brewing fortress last night - whipping up a new recipe of an Imperial (or double) IPA. I'm super excited about this one, and I'm caring for its fermentation conditions like a baby bird. Specs:  OG: 1.082, 116 IBU, 7.2 SRM.

Ingredients:

Malts: Pale 2-Row, Maris Otter Pale, Caramel 40L, Carapils and straight Corn Sugar in the boil (stole that from the Pliny the Elder recipe).

Hops: Bittering - Pacific Jade.   Aroma & Flavor - Pacific Jade, Simcoe, Centennial, Amarillo, Columbus

Yeasties: One 5 gallon carboy with WLP090 (San Diego Super Yeast), the other with WLP001 slurry .

Mostly smooth and easy brewing despite another clog/subsequent burns during the chilling process. I slacked on pictures, so I'll give you a video I just took of these guys fermenting away. You must excuse the voiceover, I (probably like everyone?) can't understand why my voice sounds the way it does on video. Don't tell me that's what it actually sounds like, I won't hear it.

If you were ever wondering what homebrew fermentation looks like: this is the fun part, about 16 hours after adding yeast (sorry that I always seem to have my camera sideways? This is 2012, that should get auto-fixed).

[youtube=http://youtu.be/WsMHhENKZwA]

Taplist

I've been spreadsheeting here a little today, trying to get organized, structured and on top of my brewing A-game. I've decided that maybe Ex Novo should have no fewer (and no more) than 4! signature beers in our repertoire, repeated and refined ad nauseam - or until we get distracted and do something else. We of course will still be doing specialty and seasonal brewing, but I'd like to have some go-to options that we (and our loyal consumers) can count on. So, raise that democratic voice so many of you have been exercising on Facebook - what four beer styles do you think we should have year-round, with their own sexy names and logos perhaps? [polldaddy poll=6561407]

Good Beer for Good

Good Beer for Good

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Perhaps my favorite brew night of my short homebrew career last night for the Brew-Night Benefit. Good turnout, Great people, *great chili from my wife, lots of beer questions which gave me my chance to impress/embarass myself,and people all showing up to support some folks who are hurting badly.

Awards:

Pick Hops not Fights: Devin and Mike for pulling in about 20oz of fresh Cascade hops from my neighbor's vine despite protective spiders.

Wingman: Gregory for sticking it out when I had no true brew partner present.

Most-Excited-to-Use-a-Big-Nose-to-Smell-HOPS: ME!

Aeration Station: Ben W. for giving this carboy the business in the name of science.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/v67p7KPry_k]

Art is for Wizards: Mr. Case for leaving me this on the chalkboard.

Thanks for coming out, the word is spreading that Ex Novo will be brewing first and third Wednesdays of the month, rain or light rain. Boys and girls welcome.

Also, you people are awesome and we raised $1000 to help the Piscitellis with their expenses. If you missed it and are still wanting to give - their Paypal is mtpiscitelli@gmail.com.

*except that it had chicken stock which could have been the silent assassin to poultry-allergic Mike. Sorry Mike.

Fresh Hoppin in the NW

Fresh Hoppin in the NW

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It is fresh-hop season up here in the Northwest, the region in the country where the vast majority of hops are grown. We happen to live here, and some of us even attempt to grow our own...here is my first year attempt at some Chinook and Centennial varieties.

Typically hops are harvested,de-hydrated/dried and packaged for use for the upcoming year. A brief window exists each fall where brewers get fresh, many going vine-to-kettle in a matter of hours and fresh hops impart really unique and amazing flavors in their brews. It's hard to describe the taste difference, the bitterness seems to be less harsh, the flavors more pronounced.

Most of the country will not get to experience this glory, as fresh hopped beers need to be consumed quickly - they very rarely get bottled. Do yourself a favor if you live in the NW and attend a fresh-hop festival like this one in Hood River.

Ex Novo will be brewing up a fresh-hop Amber Ale on Wednesday as part of a fund-raising benefit, using what hops I can gather from my yard and my neighbor's Cascade bounty. Stop by and put your nose in some green goodness.

Brew Day Benefit

Brew Day Benefit

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Heavy heart these days. My church community has suffered two losses of life in recent weeks, lives gone way too soon and leaving behind inspiration along with unanswerable questions. Mark and Jenny lost their 4-year-old daughter Vienne last week to a tragic accident. Prior to attending her memorial service, I had never experienced grief in this measure - we all know that this world is cruel and that things like this happen, but it is an absolute wrecking ball to experience it first-hand; I cannot begin to imagine what Mark and Jenny and their families are going through.

I cannot do much here, this family has needs we cannot provide for, questions we cannot answer. One small way I would like to help is to have a brew-day benefit on Wednesday 9/19. Mark (a fellow homebrewer and hop-grower) and Jenny are needing to move out of their house and obviously will be without work indefinitely while they process this, so they have a financial burden on top of everything else. So please, come and hang out - we'll be brewing 10 gallons of fresh-hopped amber ale with hops from both mine and my neighbor's yard and I'll have a jar for donations for the family (truly, anything helps). We will have some of our beer on tap (Saison and Pale), but bring some favorites if you'd like. Other homebrewers, will you bring some of your brew as well? Please invite your friends, kids are welcome if you can keep them away from the flames, and snack donations are welcomed for the evening. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday 9/19 from 6:30-9:30pm

4415 NE 40th Ave, 97211

ps, if you are out of town or cannot make it, but would like to donate - their paypal account is mtpiscitelli@gmail.com, make sure to select the gift tab.

The Payoff

The Payoff

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Faithful blog readers will know that we recently made a recipe based on Firestone Walker's award-sweeping Pale 31 pale ale. *A note about clones: based on what breweries post on their website, one can sometimes surmise some ingredients and specifications (OG, ABV, IBU, SRM) found in a particular beer. So a clone is not following another's recipe, it's like seeing the ingredients (not portions or timing) for some chocolate chip cookies and knowing how many calories are in it and then trying to figure out how it was made.*

So our pale is now ready (dubbed Pale Comparison) and the only true unbiased testing comes blind.

ImageYou who are not blind can tell that we do not have the commercial filtering equipment afforded by FW, so ours is the murky one on the left, that will probably settle over the next 2 weeks.

ON TO THE RESULTS!

ImageThree trusted friends and beer appreciators and myself tasted the two blind, like Devin here, who can't trust himself to keep his eyes closed. Surprisingly 4 out of 4 scored ours higher than the Pale 31, and it wasn't even that close. I tasted the Pale 31 second, and was disappointed with it because I thought it was ours - jazzed. The Pale Comparison has a superb nose with citrus and subtle floral tones, and finishes clean but a touch sweeter than the 31. Enough with the bragging, this is why we brew - it's a blast, and occasionally you hit one out of the park. We'll keep this one as a regular in the rotation.