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.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

New Plow

Well, we have the new plow and I was able to plow a few rows this morning to test it out.  Plowing can get a little controversial, especially when your talking about organic farming.  I found a lot of information during my research and finally settled on a traditional method, the moldboard plow.  This is the traditional plow that turns over the soil, inverting th top 6 -8" of the soil.  It has fallen by the wayside in contemporary farming because of potential problems with soil erosion.  The main benefit, however, is that it offers a way to build the soil and minimize weed problems if used in combination with cover crops.  If you plan to use roundup ready GMO seeds and pesticides then this benefit is lost and you are better off using a non-inverting tillage or even no tillage system.  If you are going organic, it remains a viable option.  We plan to use it in the initial hop yard prep and then seasonally to turn green manure crops (i.e. nitrogen fixing legumes cover crops) between the rows to cut down on the weeds while building and replenishing the soil.  The photo on the right is me following our friend Mike hauling a trailer with the new plow.  Our car is still in the shop for warranty work (a long story) and my Mini Cooper cant really haul a trailer, so we solicited Mike's kind help to pick up the plow at our local Rural King. 

The plow in its' crated form is shown on the left.  It was imported from India.  While I like to buy American made products when possible, I kind of like the idea of the potential karma building that went into the plow, assuming appropriate dharma was observed.  Seems appropriate for our vegetarian organic hops production.  In any case, the thing is heavy and I had to use the tractor to move it out of the driveway.  I will report further on the breaking of ground in a day or two.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Buying a Plow!

I am planning to buy a plow today.  This is exciting business.  The hop plants were to ship today, so I have to get the ground ready.  Still not exactly sure where to situate the hop yard, but I guess that will be determined soon.  Hope the neighbors don't mind looking at hops and a trellis system.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Promising Development

I know I promised a review of the Sierra Nevada Estate Grown beer and that will come, but I have to immediately share the news that successful and positive correspondence with Schlafly brewery has occurred.  For those not in our region, Schlafly's is the bottle name for the Saint Louis Brewery, a regional brewery (located not too far from that big big brewery that starts with a "B" and ends with an "R").
They started as a microbrewery in 1991 and they produce about 30,000 barrels a year.  They are what I would call a medium sized brewery that made a nice transition from micro- to regional brewery.  They are meeting local market demand while continuing to produce a broad range of high quality beers.  Last fall I purchased a pub keg of a Belgian ale they unceremoniously called Farm House Ale.  I won't reveal too many details here short of saying it was a batch that must be experienced and not described.  By chance I happen to have a photo of a half drunk glass; even a pessimist would describe this glass as half full if they had the first half.

But back to the news.  I made contact with the brewers that be at Schlafly's and they are willing to do a test batch with our hops and see how it goes.  This would be a fresh dry hopped brew.  I am not sure what they are thinking, but I would presume something similar to what Sierra Nevada produces as a Harvest Ale, once in the Fall with the North American harvest and once in the Spring with New Zealand hops.  It is, of course, only a tentative agreement and only a test batch but it is a cool possibility.  Now I have to make sure we get enough in the ground to produce the 10-15 pounds necessary for that test batch!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


There is definitely a movement that's been stirring (use pun as appropriate), resulting in the appearance of craft beers that recognize peoples desire for some combination of locally sourced, organic, and high quality.  On the term locally sourced, it may be more appropriate to say conspicuously sourced.  In other words, I might not care that it was necessary grown local to me, but that I know where it came from.  More importantly, a brewer crafted it with input from the ground up (another appropriate pun).  In any case, I have taken this as an excuse to sample some of these brews and I will here share my impressions.  I apologize upfront for the photos not being true professional quality....they were snapped with my iphone.  Here is the first in a series to come.

Rogue Brewery's "Chatoe Rogue" Series Dirtoir Black Lager

This is part of the GYO series or beers that Rouge has started.  GYO is Grow Your Own and they indicate the series as being dedicated to farmers and fermenters.  I have long loved Rogue Brewery and their antics, but this is a movement after my heart.  I wish they weren't 2-3K miles away.

Back to the beer.  As you can see in my photo, it is indeed a black lager.  It should in no way be confused with a stout, as the character is true to style (Schwarzbier).  It is a very drinkable beer with a noticeable but not strong hop pallet and it lacks the stronger toasted malt flavors of a stout.  Also notable in the photo is the beautiful head.  I don't know if it was the extra loving care the barley received during growth, malting and production, but this beer had one of the nicest heads I've had stick to my upper lip....and it was well retained through the beer.  Over all, not my most favorite of beers (I am a hop head) but very good.  Recommended for sure.

You may wonder to what I referred when I said "extra loving care" for the malt.  That brings me to the main point of the post and that is that Rogue has started their own farm.  They produced the barley and hops used in this brew.  Very cool indeed.  Even more cool is that the side of the bottle states the latitude-longitude coordinated for where these two ingredients were produced.  I know it is hard to see in the photo, but trust me it's there.

Next to come:  Review of Sierra Nevada's Estate Ale

Friday, March 19, 2010

the Thaw is in...

I have gone from fearing that the planting season will never arrive to worrying that we are behind the curve, all in about a week.  Things are starting to get green and the ground is drying up....I think it is prime plowing and planting time.  Time to decide how to plow and get my hop rhizomes lined up.  Need to build the trellis system, check the soil pH, work some lama poop into the soil...and have a beer in the sun.

One interesting thing I have noticed is that there is significant movement amongst the better brewers to produce beer with locally (to them) sourced barley and hops.  I have recently purchased and sampled "estate" grown brews from Rouge Brewery and Sierra Nevada.  I will report further on these shortly.