Leach’s Libations – Home Brew

Home Brewing!  It’s something every beer geek eventually wants to try, but once an assessment is made of all the equipment that is required, the sterilization needed, the time and energy involved, blah blah blah, it usually becomes easier just to BUY Bell’s Hopslam at the liquor store, rather than try to replicate it.  As luck would have it, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law have ignored all these potential road blocks, and have all the necessary equipment to do a five gallon batch of home brew!

Our first attempt began in April 2014 with a kit purchased of West Coast Imperial IPA.  While I generally love all types of beers, like most beer geeks these days, I definitely gravitate towards the IPA’s and Stouts.  Our kit included a Briess Carmel malt base, with Summit and Cascade hops, and Danstar American West Coast Ale yeast.  The brewing process was successfully done outside, during surprisingly decent weather for April in Minnesota.

Next up was bottling in May.  But what to call our debut beer?  As if the beer naming gods were shining down on us during the process, while listening to our local sports radio station during bottling, an announcement had been made about a scratched horse from the Kentucky Derby – Hopportunity.  PERFECT!  And with that, Hopportunity Knocks was born!  Yes, it came to our attention that Caldera Brewing Company in Oregon had already thought of our great beer name, but since these beers were only for personal consumption and not sale, we stuck with it!  Now we needed a “brewery” name.  Since my brother-in-laws and sister-in-law were all involved in the brewing process, and two of their first names conveniently start with vowels, we unofficially formed S.T.E.A.D. Brewing Co. (Steve, Trevor, Ernie, Annie, Dave).  After another month of PATIENTLY waiting, the first sample exceeded all our expectations and actually tasted like an IPA I would buy.  Samples to friends and family yielded similar results – maybe we were on to something?!

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So, we decided to try again this fall, with the same West Coast IPA kit.  However, this time, we were able to procure some fresh whole leaf Centennial hops.  On a foggy November Sunday morning, again with unusually warmer weather for a November in Minnesota, during the second match up of the season for the Vikings and Packers, we brewed again outside .  This time, with a nice “dry hop” addition of the Centennial hops added right before fermentation was to begin.  Two weeks later, we added another dry hop addition, and to start the New Year out right, bottling of “Foghop” took place on January 3rd.  39 wonderful 12 ounce bottles were yielded.  Stay tuned for the first sample in mid-February!

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Next up, the St. Paul Winter Carnival Beer Dabbler.  An event at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds midway area where 150 breweries show off their latest selections!  Last year’s event saw 7,000 people sampling beers in -20 degree weather!  Other than many keg lines freezing, the event was a great success and I can’t wait to return this weekend.

Skol!

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Leach’s Libations – First Entry

It can be very easy to look at all these new trends and fads these days and think:  “But I’ve been part of this trend for WAY longer than those people!”  “I was listening to this band LONG before anyone had even heard of them!”  “I’ve been eating sushi for years before there was a sushi restaurant on every corner!”  “I started watching Breaking Bad way before you dude!”

Yes, the same can probably be said for another “hot trend” out right now that is VERY near and dear to my heart:  CRAFT BEER!  I’m the guy who would try to find Anchor Steam in college when everyone else was buying Old Milwaukee Light.  Of course I was drinking Sam Adams at a time when Michelob Golden Draft Light was thought to be the next best thing in the beer industry.  And when a new little local brewery named Surly opened up and came out with some crazy beer named Furious, yes it was me that combed all corners of the Twin Cities trying to find as much as I could.  I anticipate the monthly arrival of my Beer Advocate magazine like that long sought after Christmas present.  I routinely DVR “Beer Geeks” and treat each viewing like an event – accompanied by a fantastic beer – sometimes even one from the brewery they will be profiling . . . while drinking the beer in a GLASS from that brewery . . . and maybe even wearing a t-shirt from that brewery!  Geek!  And, yes, if a family summer vacation happens to be near a good brewery, a visit with the entire family is usually in order (as luck would have it, this summer’s trip to Grand Haven, MI yielded TWO trips to Bell’s and Founder’s!)  As Mark Dredge opines in his great book Craft Beer World:  “I am a beer geek.  I’m obsessed with the details of beer as well as the taste.  I get excited about things like hops, brewing processes, new beer releases, beer history, and beer labels.  It’s far better to be a beer geek than a beer snob – beer snobs aren’t cool.”

I’m Dave Leach and I am the Operations Manager at Par Aide Products Company.  Golf and fine adult beverages have had a long and storied association. So, with what I hope will be at least a shred of credibility and non-bandwagon jumping, I present to you LEACH’S LIBATIONS  – a semi-frequent blog that intends to discuss all things craft beer.  Specifically, national breweries that I’m very fond of, the best local breweries our Twin Cities has to offer, experiments with home brewing (which I will be sharing with you soon), and other craft beer-related events.  There won’t be many fancy abbreviations and other beer geekdom terms thrown around here – mostly just thoughts shared on great beer and great beer events!