Now that the 2015 NHC Seminar List has been published I feel better about announcing this in a more official capacity: I have been selected to speak at the 2015 National Homebrewers Conference to give a talk titled Berliner and Beyond: Sour Mashing and its Applications. To commemorate this auspicious moment (and to focus myself for the conference) I am hereby dedicating 2015 as Year of the Sour Mash. It is my hope to not only inspire and inform my fellow homebrewers about the techniques and applications of sour mashing, but challenge myself to elevate the state of the art through experimentation and education.
Why sour mashing? Sour mashing is a fun, fast, and easy way to begin experimenting with sour beers, a topic more and more folks are getting interested in. I want to equip homebrewers of all skill levels to be able to successfully perform a sour mash and work it into a variety of their beers. A review of the conference seminars of past few years show that there have been no presentations dedicated to sour mashing and I want to be the one to change that.
Part 2 of my series on neomexicanus.
If you recall from part 1 of this series, there is a “new” variety of Humulus lupulus available to homebrewers called neomexicanus that has been cultivated from wild plants in New Mexico. Though the variety is nearly 500,000 years old, it has only recently been cultivated into varieties compelling to brewers. Thanks to the efforts of enterprising backyard hop growers like Todd Bates and professional growers like Eric Desmarais at CLS Farms we are on the frontier of an exciting new hop variety.
Much like neomexicanus’ European sister lupulus there is not a simple way to describe the characteristics of the hops; whether through happenstance or selective breeding there exists a broad spectrum of bitterness, flavors, and aromas that the hop can possess. Instead of attempting to describe the characteristics of neomexicanus in broad terms I am going to examine what is available at the moment whether for brewing, growing, or drinking.
Part 1 of my series on neomexicanus hops.
Humulus lupulus: the brewer’s favorite flowering plant. Its pungent flowers, commonly referred to as hops, are responsible for the signature bitterness in beer and contribute a complex bouquet of flavors though concentrations of myrcene, humulene, xanthohumol, myrcenol, linalool, tannins, and resin. Though the lupulus variety takes up the lion’s share of the homebrewer’s attention, you might be surprised to discover there are actually five distinct varieties of the plant (six, if you include hybrids):
- cordifolius – Eastern Asia and Japan
- lupulus – Europe, Asia, and Africa
- neomexicanus – Western North America
- pubescens – Midwestern US
- lupuloides (aka americanus) – Eastern and northern North America
As a follower of Stan Hieronymus’ blog I was recently tipped-off to the fact that a monastery in New Mexico has successfully cultivated and is selling homebrew-sized batches of neomexicanus hops from their website. Though they are perhaps the most expensive hops I have ever purchased–$50 for six ounces–like any good homebrewer my desire for experimentation knows no limits! I’ll be writing more about the beers I make with the neomexicanus hops, but since the variety is new to the homebrew and even professional brewing scenes I thought I’d do a bit of research and share the details.
As foretold by the prophets, August 7th is IPA Day. And hey, did you know that folks are bonkers about IPAs!? I like to joke that here in San Diego it’s impossible to throw a stone without hitting a brewery that’s pumping out two or three world-class IPAs (indeed, I can almost literally hit Stone with a stone from my house). While my tastes of late have shifted away from hop explosions, I do still enjoy a good IPA now and again; rest assured I’ll be kicking back tonight with a nice lupulin-laced liquor.
To celebrate IPA Day, here are some tips I’ve gathered about making a world-class West-Coast IPA.