Thursday, July 15, 2010

The new Mint plant, some garden updates and a beer quickie..

Some updates to the garden..

Check this thing! Melons and Cucumbers and one watermelon of the the left side, still growing. We're going to regret planting this soon enough, but it's still funny to watch it grow..

My new Mint plant. Thanks Crystal! I got a tiny little rootlet that was creeping out of it's boundaries from my pal Crystal, and got it potted up there. We'll see how it's doing as time goes by. Hers was doing well enough in the front bed at her place and smelled like a million bucks. She tells me it's spearmint. I intend to keep thing one indoors in the winter to keep it going, and perhaps do a small potted herb garden thingy to amuse myself when my big garden is nuked in the winter. Still, that cold frame idea I've been pondering has me intrigued.. I might eek out something well into November if I do that right..

Here's me and a couple of chickens, taken yesterday, pulling grubs from the exposed part of the bed where I pulled up the beans and bolted lettuce:

I was listening to some tunes while doing this and didn't see the wife sneak up on me with the camera to take these shots.. otherwise, I might have dressed more appropriately for the pics. The other chickens were nearby, behind the tomato plants, but weren't enjoying the huge amount of fats grubs that these two Barred Rocks were as I pulled the pests from the ground and tossed 'em to them.

Here's a couple shots of the big tomatoes on the downhill side of the astern bed, which are so out of control from improper staking (raises hand!) that I had to go horizontal with them to keep 'em growing. There's so many potential tomatos here it's unreal.. next year, I'll know what I'm doing more and have a much better setup installed.

This is the cherry tomatos here (below), and there's bunches more of these clusters to go...

I didn't notice this one was split until after I came inside and blew this up on the monitor.. I kinda freehanded this shot cause it's well into the middle of the grouping of plants. I'll go pull this one out of here in a few minutes and see what it looks like...

Here's the now half-empty downhill bed, which we're readying for some more fall lettuce and maybe some garlic or onions.

And here's a pic of that poor bugger off in the 'big rock' garden all by it's lonesome.. it's actually doing sorta fine over there.

In beer news, I kegged up the Berliner yesterday and that's on standby to get carb'ed, but it's waiting it's turn behind the other beers I have to get ready for Avalon next month. The Avalon beer itself it pretty much done, just waiting another day or so before I keg that up into a couple of kegs.. one for the beach and one for here. I gotta get my new idea for an Oat Stout brewed up pretty quick, cause I'm starting to get low on Tap #2 where my dark beers reside.. The Belg. Stout is still going strong and tastes as good as ever, though so that'll tide me over till I can get something else brewed up. Results from the competition some of the Commandos entered should be up in the next couple days, too.. stand by for those results. That's all for now..

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Brutal Truth - Timmay's Imperial Belgian IPA (Don't count the Belgian part!)

Here it is, another installment, guaranteed to break hearts of home-brewers everywhere. Dig this:

Our latest victim, Timmay's Belgian inspired Imperial IPA, which he told me to disregard the Belgian part of. Something about it not turning out quite Belgian'y or something? I forget. Whatever! Let's begin.

Aroma: A mild fruitiness, some notes of peach, and a very faint sweet smell.. per guidelines, I'm looking for an "intense hop aroma" that I'm not finding here. Hop aroma should be in an Imperial IPA. No hot alcohols, and no off-aromas found. With a label like Imperial IPA, I'm missing something.. perhaps we'll find it in the flavor? Let's keep looking. It simply needs more aroma hops to compete better here. For now, 5/12

Appearance: Looks like a million bucks! I mean, look at the head on that damn thing. Fluffy, tight bubbles, persistent. Looks great to me, although it's supposed to be clear. As such.. 2/3.

Flavor: Ah! There's something! Even has a flavor of Peach! Very interesting. I get a big malt flavor, with not as much hop as I'd like in this style.. but.. It has a really intriguing fruity flavor, and enough bitterness minus the hop flavor, to carry it. Just barely. I think I could use either a *bit* more bittering hops, or a more dried out beer, to bring a sense of less body and midrange and emphasize the taste of the hops and yeast derived flavors.  It's pretty drinkable for a bigger beer (how big is this, anyway? I have no idea.. I wasn't told and it ain't on the label.. we'll assume it's 7%+ or I'd hesitate to call it Imperial, but who knows?) However, bottom line is, it's not packing enough hops (al la Pliney or Ruination) to compete well in this ballpark.. 12/20

Mouthfeel: Nothing to complain about here, just smooth, well carbonated goodness. Well done in that respect. No alcoholic warmth from what we assume is a bigger beer, just very drinkable beer. 5/5

Overall Impression: This one is a mixed bag. It's got just enough bitterness to carry the beer, but not enough hops to be a DIPA. It's clean, moderately malty, yet very drinkable. It's got some punch to it (I feel it creeping in on me now..) but invites sip after sip. A funny peach-ish flavor seems to seem in everywhere I look, but with the name "Belgian" on it, I'm interested in how that plays out. This one is hard to put a finger on, but.. for the style, it misses out on a few important key points, but still impresses. It's a well made brew, with an easily rectified (on the next iteration) issue, that being "more hops".  I'm gonna give it 7/10 in this box.

Total: 31/50

Summary, it creeps into the "Very Good" scoring guide per BJCP style sheets.. I think because it has some curious strong points, like the killer flavor aspect and easy drinkability, but misses the mark on hops. If this is the beer Timmay sent to the Ohio comp, I'm curious to see how it fared there.. just a few more days will tell. Good job, Tim. Add a few more ounces next time and this one will be out of the park!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Garden update and Avalon pale ale..

Seems like forever since I've posted here.. but.. only 5-6 days, I guess. In any case, brewed a 12+ gallon batch of Avalon Pale Ale the other day.. this is the beer that goes with me to Avalon, NJ each year to quench the thirsts of the beachgoers on our big family vacation. Last year, one keg wasn't enough, so I made another one.. granted, one is a mini-keg, but still, there's two of 'em. Right now, that beer looks like this:

Nice decoration, isn't it? Fermentation is over, but it still touched ~80 at it's peak.. swamp cooler keg-in-bucket setup or not. We'll see soon enough what sorts of green apple flavors lurk here.

In other news, a pictorial of the garden.. and coffee tree, too. Behold:

Since I moved the coffee tree outside on the deck when it will be fine till the fall, it's suddenly sprouted some major buds from which beans may result. Dig that.

Cucumber on the vine.. this one got picked the day after I took this pic, which was two days ago.. and Cessy ate it right up. I took a bite as well, and it wasn't vomit inducing, even though I hate cucumbers.

Here's a pic (from today) of the very first colored tomatos. They're small, but they'll be ripe in a just a bit, I guess.. and I swear, I will eat at least one of them. That will be a first..

Also new to the family, a teeny tiny little carrot leaf has popped up here:

I know that one is a mite small, but it's got a lot of friends joining it. I planted this one in the less desirable of the two beds for carrot production, but my options were limited. I had some room from some vacated.. err.. spinach, was it? Something. Anyway, I put 'em in there about a week ago and lo and behold, they're actually coming up. I mulched 'em with the straw you see in this picture, and when I saw the leafs emerge today, I pulled the mulch back to give them some light. There's actually quite a few of them in the row, and I hope to see some growth that's easier to take pics of in the near future.

In other bad news, when I went to pull the red lettuce out, with each pull of the evicted stalk came these guys:

Bane of my existence, we are troubled mightily with grubs. Just that one lettuce pull produced the three grubs you see here in this picture, and a couple more were unearthed without too much trouble as well. I found the cure for these is a product (bacteria, actually) called Milky Spore, which the grubs eat, and eventually causes their death. It's actually a pretty neat thing, because it's all natural and completely harmless to *everything* else except grubs. I'll be picking this stuff up in a couple days and applying it then. This is the time, thankfully, to apply the stuff too.. when the grubs are coming to the surface to soon become Japanese Beatles.

Also in that same lettuce pull I found a fat earthworm and a friend of his as well, so I guess we'l have some good with out bad. The worms I can handle.. and the Spore won't harm them when I throw that stuff down.

That's all for now.. tune in next time, true believers. Carry on..