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, October 31, 2010

Familiar Foreigners in my Backyard

There have always been a few Amish and Mennonite families scattered around southern Illinois.  In recent years several families have taken up residence in the older farms just to the south of us.   I don't know if it is nostalgia or just curiosity but I find myself fascinated by this sub-culture of seemingly kind souls living amongst us.  As some of you know I have a background and interest in sustainable technology that goes back to the late 80's.  This is probably the root of my fascination.  The fact that they are of a "fundamentalist" christian religion that is rooted in pacifism is also a key factor, particularly since it contrasts to the dominant Southern baptist and Methodist philosophies of the southern Appalachians where I was raised, or reared as they say.

I drive my daughter to school on a small winding back-road each morning in my red mini cooper.  There is a Mennonite (I presume) family that moved into one of the farms on the way.  Each morning we pass the children driving themselves in a horse drawn cart on their way to school (I again presume).  I am always overly cautious about passing them to be as polite as possible.  We have started turning off the radio and rolling the windows down so we can hear the clunk, clunk, clunk sound of the horse trotting.  It really is a mesmerizing sound.  The road is a lot of up and down hills, so we often have to ride behind them for a couple minutes to have a safe place to pass.  We always wave at each other as we pass and I think they have come to recognize us.  My daughter is currently fascinated by "Little House on the Prairie" and similarities are kind of cool.

The other morning we experienced an interesting case of irony.   As we passed them (very slowly) one of the boys said "Weeeee" as we passed and waived.  I thought it interesting and funny that while we thought it would be cool to ride the horse cart to school, they likely were thinking the same about our red sports car.  One of these days I am going to stop by their farm and introduce myself and welcome them to the neighborhood.  They really only live about 2 miles away, as the crow flies.  They are always quite friendly as we pass by.  Truth be told, their culture has faithfully maintained some of the knowledge and traditions that many of us now seek, such as growing your own food and materials and practicing sustainable agricultural practices that protect the land.  In many ways, they are moving forward while we are reaching back. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Big Muddy Brew Fest Success

The Bid Muddy Brew Festival was a great success.  We were really glad to be a part of it.  They were hoping for and planning for 500 and ended up letting over 600 in.  I think everyone had a great time and we especially enjoyed being vendors at this event.  Most of the event was, well beer of course, but there was one tent where a few of our friends had a homebrewing demonstration going on, the tent next to us was a brew shop from MO and a local cheese maker was at the end.  When the homebrew demonstration hit the boil and put in some hops I could smell it two tents down.  It was wonderful.  I think they made some good progress on getting a brewing club going.

We were set up next to a small brewshop located across the river in Jackson, MO. He started selling on a small scale a couple years ago and he had some helpful advice about us starting the brew shop.  A nice fellow and very helpful.

The interest in our hops and future shop was simply overwhelming.  Homebrewing and interest in good beer is alive and well in southern Illinois.  People can't seem to wait until we have supplies to offer.  We sold out of our hops fairly quickly and we also sold a number of T-shirts.  It was a good showing for us and we just made enough money to cover the cost of the tent we bought that morning.

We look forward to next years' festival with a larger number of brewers and a larger number of guests.  We will have more hops to sell next year!!!!!  Thanks to all of you that stopped by our table.  It was interesting to have so many people stop by and mention they had read our blog.  Thanks.

!!!!!By the way, those of you that missed getting one of our T-shirts at the festival can now order one on our blog.  Those of you that missed the festival entirely should order one as well and have a nice brew wearing it.  Next best thing to being there.  The google checkout and order system is at the end of the blog!!!!!!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Big Muddy Monster Brew Fest....TODAY!!!

We are making our final preparations for the brew festival.  It is sure to be a great event.  Over 50 craft beers to taste, good music, and we will be there selling our remaining hops (not much left for this season) and t-shirts.  Jen has outdone herself with a new block she has carved for the t-shirts.  They are organic, hand printed and full of cool.  We have several colors available and a couple of different designs.

1:00-4:00, Riverside Park, Murphysboro IL.

If you don't have plans today, come on out taste some unique craft brews and buy a t-shirt or some hops.  If you have other plans, change them!  Seriously, this should be a nice time for all and there is even a raffle being conducted.  One of the prizes is a Windy Hill Hops shirt.  

Friday, October 22, 2010

Nuts, Beer, and Eating Local

We are excited to report that our black walnut tree has outdone itself this year.  Last couple of years it produced a few dozen nuts, but this year it was literally bent with fruit.  Our friend Marika used some of them in a local foods dinner party last weekend in and on a wonderful freshly made ravioli.  From what we hear it wasn't trivial getting the flesh of the nut out.  That should get a little better as they age.

But let me step back and talk about the bigger picture and further explain the dinner that Marika put together.  We were invited and asked to provide local components and homebrew for a dinner she was planning.  She scoped out the ingredients that came available to her along with the homebrews several of us had ready to serve, and created a set of courses for a meal taking the beer and ingredients in consideration to make a positive matching.  From our garden/farm we provided basil, okra, garlic, walnuts, sun dried tomatoes and from the home brewery we provided an extra bitter pale ale (September Morn Pale Ale) and the wet hopped brew we made at our harvest party (Second Coming Fresh Hopped Ale).  I can't even begin to do justice to how wonderful it all was, especially the success of the pairings.  Sixteen if us sat down to enjoy 5 or 6 courses (I lost track), each served with a homebrew made by one of us.  It was a magical time and a great example of what can be done with local foods.  (photo courtesy of Dan Reedy)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Fete at the Fort

We had our first official public event today at The Fete at the Fort, in Prairie du Rocher.  It was a beer tasting with many craft brewers represented and there were a number of groups of reinactors dressed in 18th century period garb.  The were even firing the cannons.  We are very thankful for the invitation to attend and for the opportunity to meet so many potential customers.  We were able to sell a few hops and a few t-shirts and built up our mailing list.  The best part was letting people take a few hops in the hands, crush them and discover for the first time the wonderful aroma of hops.  The location was really impressive, as it is a fort built in 1720.

Friday, October 8, 2010

HomeBrew Store!!!

We have decided to augment our hops operations with a small store front that will sell brewing supplies.  We will focus on all-grain brewing supplies and equipment.  To our knowledge the closest "full service" brew shop is in St. Louis, 123 miles from Carbondale.  According to experience and reconnaissance, most brewers in the area order from internet supplies.  I too have done this for most of my needs in the past.  However, there is real benefit (and fun) in being able to think up a recipe Friday night (over a homebrew), pop in the brew shop Saturday morning and brew it that afternoon.  Wouldn't it even be nice to be able to grab that specialty yeast strain you need as well, rather than settling for Muntons dried packs?  Wouldn't it also be nice to smell and taste different malts prior to committing to a 50 lbs sack via the internet?  If you get a batch of hops that just don't look or smell right, wouldn't it be nice to swing by the shop and say, " Hey, does this smell right to you?"?  

We will have limited hours, but our aim is to supply southern Illinois with what is needed for home brewing in the area to grow.  Plus, we think it will just be way cool to drive by the hopyard on the way to the brew shop to pick up a mix of local and sourced supplies to make the most local beer possible.  We hope to have an area to host seminars and courses on brewing, tastings, and maybe a focal point to foster home brew clubs.

We are in the process of planning the store, building and inventory.  Brewers: If there are particular types of ingredients or equipment you would like to see stocked please let us know by posting comments here or by sending us an email (  We will even take pre-orders for those interested.  If you send us suggestions for items to stock we will give a 20% discount on your first purchases.  We will post details of progress and opening dates here.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Harvest Party and general update

It has been a while since the last post.  With the academic year starting life has been pretty hectic, but we have made some exciting steps forward on the farm.  An article about our farm recently appeared in the Fall issue of Life & Style magazine, a regional magazine that is put out quarterly in southern Illinois.  The article turned out really well and has already led to a sale.   Thanks go to Shawn Connolly for  putting such a nice article together.

Along other "news", we had a nice "second" harvest party.  Because we hand picked and left the vines intact, we had a spurt of secondary growth and cones that made it to maturity.  We put together a last minute that, while not perfectly planned and executed, seemed to provide a nice time for all.  Not to boast, but it was an event of cosmic alignment.  Seriously though, just 2 days prior to the actual party was the equinox, the harvest moon, one of our birthdays AND a harvest.  We clipped several of the bines and while I was mashing a brew our guests picked about 20 oz of wet hops that we used in a fresh hop harvest ale.  Unfortunately, Jen and I were quite busy with cooking and brewing (yes, it might have been a dumb idea to try to do both at the same time) and we didn't even take any photo's of the festivities. We didn't take a count, but recollection of guest we know attended hits a number >50.  Next year we will have it more organized and hopefully have some live music.  We are hoping to attract The New Vernacular, one of the hottest new Americana bands out of Knoxville, TN!!!