Limestone Creek Brewing Co.

Friday, November 16, 2012

And now I lay me down to sleep...

Now that we've had a couple of "kill" frosts in Upstate NY it's time for our baby hop's to go to bed for the winter.  Fortunately, a 65 degree Sunday came along to make my life a little more enjoyable and the job a little easier!
Winterized Hop Yard - Fall 2012

A shovel full of the Miller Gold compost mix (yard waste, coffee grinds from the office, and Miller food scraps) followed by 8-10" of wood chips and the hop hill's are nestled in nicely.  We didn't cut the hop plants back this year since they were put in so late in the season, but in coming years we'll have harvested the main bines and cut back the plants a bit.

I visited a local hop farmer on Saturday who's actually trying to get out of the business due to a variety of reasons.  He's got about 5 acres of 4 year old hop plants in a number of varieties.  He claims 2012 was a very bad year for local hop farmers as a result of the ridiculous warmth we had in March this year followed by freezes.  He claims 60% losses this year; not as much loss as others due to some precautions he took.

The covering of the hills that I did last weekend should prevent any problems associated with early growth.  I won't pull back the wood chips until early May.  I'll then cover them with some dried horse manure to give them that spring boost!

We keep brewing some great batches and are close to choosing our "top 3" that will be the first larger batches.  Now we need to invest in some big brew pots and fermenters!

Thanks for coming by!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Practice, Practice, PORTER!

Let's talk about brewing beer.

My brewing partners, Tom and Jason, stopped by after a trip to the brew supply store to cook up a London Porter. This is a style we haven't made before, but we were looking for a full bodied beer that will pair well with the falling leaves and cooling temperatures. The recipe is a partial grain/partial LME (Liquid Malt Extract) variety that lets us have a little flexibility (grains) while saving a bit of time (LME).

Tom enjoys a little left over grains - fiber-licious!
The process takes just over 3 hours not counting the trip to the store. Steep the grains, add the LME, bring to a boil, add hops over the course of an hour, cool it down, dump it into the fermenting vessel, "pitch" the yeast, cover and your done.

During the process we have a little time to discuss our next purchase - a kegging system! Bottling isn't that difficult, and it does make it convenient to split our batch among one another, but putting the beer into a keg allows for only a few days wait to drink. And, lets face it, having a keg of homebrew is just plain cool!

A peek at the Porter once it's been transferred to the secondary fermenter -  notice the hops and "trub" that the siphon helps filter out.
This batch will be very tasty. How do I know? Well, one of the benefits of being the one to transfer to the secondary is that I get to take a little sample to measure the specific gravity. A calculation of the difference between the specific gravity reading before pitching the yeast (OG) and at the time you bottle it (FG) gives you an approximate alcohol content.

Since we're going to put this batch into our new 5 gallon keg system it should be ready to drink a few days after we transfer it. We'll tip one for you!

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Hops Have Landed!

While others may be celebrating the landing of the Mars Rover "Curiosity" the Limestone Creek Brewing Co. is ecstatic over the landing of our first plants in the test site!

"Mounding" the old fashioned way (not!)
These are the virus indexed stock plants we purchased through NeHA and the Cornell Cooperative Extension and include Newport and Fuggle varieties.  Being so late in the season we just want to get them in the ground so they can establish themselves for next growing season.  We expect our first abundant crop of hops in 2015 from this planting.

As you can see below, I created a temporary trellis system off of our permanent hop poles to give them a little growing room through the rest of the summer and into the fall.  Now, if only we can keep the ridiculously large deer population from eating them all before they get comfortable!  Any ideas?
Hops in the ground and ready to climb

Test Field Bravo

Bob and I finally found a day we could both devote some time to the raising of the trellis system, so we brought out the heavy equipment and raised some poles.  Bob figured out the post hole digger attachment after a little experimentation; he dug holes while I prepped the poles by cutting to 21' and drilling holes in top to run the trellis cable through next spring.

The "inaugural" hop pole (looking NW toward the future Oast house)
As you can see, we off-centered the poles in this row - once we have the hop yard laid out there will be free-floating cables running between the cable supports. The free-floating cables will have the hop "bines" running up to them for their top support.

Riley and Bob providing comic relief
The soil in this spot is pretty much perfect - we assume it was farmed at some point in the recent past based on the lack of rocks alone. This will be considered the test yard mostly because beyond the 1.5 - 2 acres of good soil we have mostly very large limestone boulders right up to the surface.  However, these make great landscaping tools that will add to the scenery once we have the Oast and visitor center built!

Thumbs up!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Name on the books!  "Limestone Creek Brewing Co."  Are you down with the LCB?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Act I, Scene I

And so it begins.  An adventure of insurmountable proportions.

Okay, maybe not insurmountable, but definitely something that may take years of work, a little luck, and a lot of fun!

My goal is to document the development of our "Hop Yard" and subsequent hop house (Oast), beer brewing operation, tasting room, and retail sales location.  Want to come along for the ride?

"Hop Yard" - a little more than 2 acres of previously farmed land on the "Oot" property Bob bought recently
Phase 1 will be the development of the Hop Yard.  The cedar and larch poles were delivered today by John and John Patane and their logger, Kenny, who picked some poles off their property in Peterboro, N.Y.  We hope to get those in the ground and the trellis system up in the next 7 days.

The hops going in the ground this summer include Cascade, Fuggle, and Newport varieties that we purchased through Steve Miller (Cornell Cooperative Extension) and the Northeast Hop Alliance (NeHA).

Our Virus Indexed baby hop plants - the future of our company!
So how long 'til we're picking hop cones to brew in our beer?  Probably about 2 years before we'll get any real production out of these babies.  We may buy some stock varieties that are 1.5 years old from Zerillo's nursery (Cicero, N.Y.) so we have a harvest sooner.  I'm thirsty!

I have to thank my father-in-law, Bob, for pushing this thing along.  His land, heavy equipment, vision, and financing will help this all become a reality.

Also, looking forward to continued brewing with Tom Otis and Jason Fridley developing more recipes and brewing larger, Larger, and LARGER quantities of beer!

I look forward to posting future information and pictures.  Thanks for stopping by.