Buy your brewing supplies here

We now have a range of base and specialty malts for sale. A catalog and new website is coming soon. Let us know what you need and we will sell it to you or special order it for you. Please bear with us during this initial stage and we will have the full service shop available in no time.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Need to Plan: Planning to Need

We are all getting a little bit antsy about what we will do and when to do it.  I know we will grow a fair amount of hops, but we will probably start small with a couple of desirable varieties to see what performs well.  I have made some good contacts and found various examples of others starting hopyards.  This is encouraging and may be a source of information along the way.  I am also learning, via this blog, of local people that are doings things in the local food movement or in the craft beer movement.  This is encouraging and it is nice to see that others are actually looking at this blog and are interested.
I received a comment and communication from a group in Carbondale called Food Works that is promoting "local food systems development for southern Illinois".  They are working on a community food assessment (CFA) for the region.  Even more exciting for us is their intent to develop a New Farmer Training Program.  This is modeled on the Central Illinois Farm Beginings program, which I believe has connection in some way with the training system at Angelic Farms in Northern Illinois.  There is a very interesting and inspiring (to us at least) movie about the development of this CSA farm.  If you haven't seen it I encourage you to check it out.  It is also available on Netflicks.  Seeing the film makes me wonder a little what our neighbors think about us?  And while I am making film recommendations, another excellent film that I recommend seeing is Food Inc.  This film is available on iTunes, netflix and Amazon.  [Warning:  It will make you want to eat vegetarian organic food (though it is not anti-carnivore).] 

In any case, I am excited that these food developments are occurring in my neighborhood, so to speak, and I hope we are able to benefit from and contribute to these efforts.

The blogosphere is such a great way to learn about others with similar interest.  I actually can't remember how we used to do things before the internet and Google.  A blog I have begun to follow with interest is a new hop yard in Rhode Island, Ocean State Hops.  They started a small operation about three years ago with 3 plants and will have 350 this year.  Their situation seems close enough to ours to be inspiring. 

I'll also report that I have been reading a couple of books that are very helpful.  There are actually not that many books about growing hops and for Christmas the wife bought me a copy of "The Home Brewers Garden".  I wish I would have had this book a long time ago.  It not only has an extensive section on growing and utilizing homegrown hops, but also talks about homegrown grains and malting.  That is something that I have always thought about but assumed you would need tens of acres to produce enough barley to be worth it.  It turns out that a garden size plot is enough to be useful to the home brewer.  Wouldn't it be cool to brew beer from ingredients grown on your own land?  But wait, isn't that what Jefferson and many of the founding fathers did?

In closing, I'll share an image taken today on Windy Hill in full winter mode.  We actually got a decent covering of snow and the kids and I worked on a snowperson.  We got a little carried away and the middle section was actually too heavy for us to pick up.  Then I remembered the words of the Kubota salesman, "people swear they can't live without a front end loader once they have can't even imagine the uses".  Three minutes later we have the 3' diameter snowball strapped to the bucket and mounted on the other snowball. 

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