Saturday being the day of the Orchard School Craft Fair, I had my volunteers lined up for Sunday to put the roof on the brewery. Alas, for once the weather forecasters were right. Rain and ice were predicted and such we received. By eight in the morning the concrete deck of the brewery had quarter-inch thick layer of ice on it. Eventually the rain would melt away the ice but it was small consolation.
Tracy and I busied ourselves putting away anything that we felt might be damaged by the rain. That completed, all that remained was to speculate upon the likelihood of getting the roof on before spring or consider other courses of action we could pursue until such time as we were able to put the roof on the brewery. Many things remain to be done so I am sure we will find plenty to occupy us over the winter.
One bit of serendipity occurred at the craft fair on Saturday. A distant neighbor of mine who happens to be a welder, and has a large hop plant growing in his front yard, stopped by my table. We began discussing my ideas for converting the sap tanks I purchased to a boiler and fermenters. On the spot he came up with improvements to my ideas that will make it easier for us to run-off the beer without drawing off any of the sludge but would also facilitate the removal of the sludge and cleaning of the tanks. This almost makes up for the dismal sales we had on Saturday!
Throughout the day, we had many people stopping by my table at the craft fair to discuss the brewery. Word is getting out. We also handed out numerous brochures about the brewery. People are still excited about the brewery even though we are behind schedule. It is nice to see that our support is still strong and hear words of encouragement from our supporters.
The New England Cream Lager turned out excellent. Remember that this time I put in an extra ounce of my own hops, for a total of three ounces. After more than two months in the bottle the hop aroma and flavor are both strong and citrusy with no hint of the usual lager/IPA bitterness without flavor. The addition of lactose made for a very smooth-bodied beer. So far, no one has had anything negative to say about this beer.
The rye lager came out as a very mild, earthy beer with a copper color. I was expecting a sharper rye flavor given the dark rye malt that was used in the recipe. It was still a good beer however, many drinkers found the flavor too mild for their tastes.
Today I bottled the latest batch of hemlock beer. This time I used less hemlock than in the past. I tasted some of the brew prior to bottling. At this point it is very mild in spite of the heavy addition of dark roasted barley. Given this recipe's history of dramatic taste evolution, I have no doubt it will taste quite different after a month in the cellar.