Category Archives: Beer

Hop Harvest 2012.

The 2012 hop harvest was a great success for The Root Cellars Garden. Using the same three plants as last year, we were able to increase our wet yield from about 10 pounds to 23.8 pounds and after removing the obligatory 12 ounces of hops to create our fresh hop beer, we ended up with 100.2 dried ounces of hops. This is as compared to the 36 ounces last year! The yield increase is likely due to the age of our rhizomes. They are coming into full maturity and producing peak yields. We were also very attentive to watering during the very dry July/August that we had to ensure the cones would fully mature and produce the amount of lupulin we were hoping for before starting to dry out.

Needless to say, hubs is going to be busy during the next year! As in year’s past we harvested Cascade, Centennial and Mt Hood hops. We picked them, laid them out to dry, turned them every day, and when papery, measured them out and used a Food Saver to package them. After which, they went directly into the freezer. The only difference this year was that hubs wanted to package all of the hops into 2 ounce packs, this was a welcome request given the sheer number of packs we were going to make!

Centennial bines ready for harvest.

Centennial cones.

Mt Hood cones.

Mt Hoods in buckets.

Yard dog helping out with the harvest.

Centennial and Mt Hood harvest, 21.3 pounds!

Our king cone, a Centennial. There may have been bigger ones, but this cone got the prize!

Packing hops for freezing. 100.2 ounces total into the freezer!

We have far exceeded our goal of growing enough hops for a single year of home brewing. Hubs would like to add one or two more varieties of hops to our garden to give him more variety for brewing, but at this point, he is going to have to find a bigger freezer before he can to that!










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Filed under Beer, DIY, Edible Plants, From the Garden, Garden

Zwickelmania ~ An Oregon Beer Tradition.

Waiting for the bus.There are many terms in the beer world, terms my hubs has learned, terms I hear other brewing friends make fun of because of their redundancy. At one point, a good friend pointed out this very fact, the fact that everything you might do in your regular life is called something different when you are brewing beer. For example, when you rinse something in the non-brewing world, you call it rinsing. When you do this to grains during brewing it is called sparging. When you boil water, add grains to it and allow them to steep at a specific temperature for a set amount of time, it is not called steeping as it might be with tea, instead it is called mashing or mashing in. I could go on, but I will spare you and get to the point.

In brewing, once the beer has fermented, the fermentation tank is crashed (yup another one, also known as getting the tank really cold with food grade coolant to stop yeast activity and allow the yeast to sink to the bottom of the fermenter before the beer is moved to the conditioning tank) at this point, when the beer is no longer in suspension (i.e. the yeast has settled and the beer is clear), the tank is no longer known as the fermentation tank. Now it is called the bright tank, because the clear beer is called bright beer. What I am describing is often used in commercial settings. It speeds up the clearing of the yeast and creates a bright beer much more quickly. At home, we just let the yeast eat itself until it is no longer fermenting and hope most of it settles to the bottom. Though we are not going for an overly clear final product.

Alright, alright, again back to the point. So this weekend there was an annual event in Portland. It is an event we like to go to every year. It is called Zwickelmania. What Zwickelmania is, is a chance, here in Oregon (Portland for us) to go around to the dozens of microbreweries, get a tour of their brewing facility, often given by the brewer themselves and then taste bright beer, right off the zwickel (the spout that the beer comes out of).

@ The bus stop.

It is a really fun and awesome opportunity, not only to learn more about each brewery but to meet the faces behind the beer. And to ride the bus/walk around the city and have a little to drink. Yesterday we made it to seven places. Not all of them poured directly off the bright, some served kegged beer instead, but in all it was a really good time and we got to see several new breweries and meet some very cool brewers.

To give you an idea of what bright beer tastes like, think flat, un-carbonated and rough around the edges. The beer has not been conditioned so the hop bitterness is much hasher and the yeast creaminess is much more prevalent (almost chalky). This is the same beer that home brewers taste when the “thief” (yes another phrase that simply means to take a sample of!) beer to check the gravity of it.

Here is a tour of the tour we got to take.

1. Migration Brewing Co. ~ 7 barrel brewhouse, tour by head brewer and owner Mike. Served MPA (Migration Pale Ale) off the bright.

2. Coalition Brewing Co. ~ 10 barrel brewhouse, tour by head brewer and owner Elan. Served kegged Nut Brown and The Loving Cup Maple Porter off the bright.

3. Burnside Brewing Company ~ No tour (its ok, we got one last year and the brewery is quite open).  Served kegged Oatmeal Pale Ale and Kali Ma (Imperial apricot wheat ~ a spicy addition made this something I would like to cook with).

Fermentation tank.

4. Cascade Brewing Barrel House (always a favorite!) ~ Micro brewery, 400-500 barrels (the real ones, like oak and stuff) at a time, aging, tour throughout the barrel house. Served straight from the barrels, 1. Blended Tripel and Gold Yellar to make Noyaux, 2. Elderberry, 3. Figaro (aged with lemon peel in Chardonnay barrels), 4. Sang Noir (aged in Pinot and Whiskey barrels with cherries).

Beer with lunch after our tour/tasting. "Nightfall Blackberry starts as a soured blonde wheat beer aged for 12 months in oak barrels, then laid on blackberries for another six. It features intense fruitiness and a concentrated color and aroma."

7. Buckman Botanical Brewery ~ 15 barrel brew house, tour by head brewer Todd. Served Zwickel Bier from the keg. This was an un-lagered, lager that was brewed just for the event.

Beer after tour and tasting at Green Dragon (home of Buckman Botanical Brewery). Sockeye Red IPA: "Brewed in the bold spirit of Alaska, Sockeye Red IPA is a finely crafted Pacific Northwest-style India Pale Ale with a real bite. Ample pale two-row malt creates a fresh, firm body while specialty malts impart a spawning red hue. The predominant character of this fiesty catch comes from outlandish portions of Centennial, Cascade and Simcoe hops, giving this beer tremendous citrus and floral aroma and flavor."

6. Lucky Labrador Brewing Company ~ Full tour. Served Hawthorne ESB from the bright and kegged Ole Yellar Barleywine (2010).

Mash tun.

7. The Commons Brewery ~ 7 barrel brewhouse, no tour as we made it here too late and the event was over. Had pints, I enjoyed a sour saisson and the hubs had a farmhouse ale. This is a brand new location (previously Beejte Brewery) and we were excited to check it out.

Fermentation tanks.

I hope you all enjoyed my virtual tour of some of Portland’s finest, yet smallest breweries.


Filed under Beer

Rip City Rye {Extract}.

Written by the hubs,

With this recipe I set out to make a hoppy rye ale similar to an IPA or a heavily hopped pale ale. I used 2 pounds of rye malt in the steeping grains for this extract batch because I really wanted to get that sharp edge that rye can give a beer. The color turned out to be a nice clear amber and the beer was quite effervescent at bottling. This was also the first time I used the Whitelabs California V ale yeast. When I created the recipe I originally wanted to use the classic Whitelabs California Ale yeast, but the local home brew store was out so I went with the California V. It turned out really well as the California V imparts a sweet tangy flavor that went well with the sharpness of the rye malt and the fruity/citrus flavor form the Centennial hops. Two other interesting things I learned about the yeast is that it puts off an almost sulfur type odor during fermentation. The wife kept thinking I was crop dusting (farting) in the closest where the beer was fermenting. I blamed it on the beer. Not sure she believed me until I had her put her nose up to the ferm lock. Don’t worry though, the odor does not make it into the actual flavor of the beer. The other interesting thing about this yeast was that it fermented for a pretty long time. It had a few days of furious bubbling then it settled in for the long haul and was still active going into the third week. All said and done the beer turned out great. Wife’s happy with it and she wants to replicate it using our new all grain set up.

Steeping Grains & Extract

6 lbs Light Malt Extract

2 lbs Rye Malt

1 lb Crystal 15L

5 oz CaraPils/Dextrine

5 oz Flaked Wheat

Hop & Adjunct Schedule

1 oz Centennial @ 60 min

1 oz Centennial @ 30 min

.5 oz Centennial @ 15 min + 1 tsp Irish Moss

.5 oz Centennial @ 5 min


Whitelabs California V Ale – Pitched at 68 to 70 degree

Fermented in the primary for 20 days at around 66 degrees. Transferred to secondary for another 10 days to clear

Drink it up!

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Filed under Beer, Fermentation and Yeast

2012 Malt Vinegar Project – Home Brew.

As promised I am continuing my experimentation with making vinegar and open/wild fermentation. I started my second batch of malt vinegar on January 21, this time using home brewed stout. I used a 22 ounce bottle of stout and included the yeasty sediment at the bottom of the bottle and one tablespoon of cider vinegar mother that we made at the end of last year by fermenting unpasturized cider into vinegar. I will keep you all updated as this progresses.

Here is the promised update on the first batch, made with Guinness. You can read more about this here.

The beer has not really done much at this time. You can see a scum on the surface that looks different from the mother of the cider vinegar, but still has that similar pearly look that I think it should between the scum. Also, my thought is that the scum is coming from one of two things, left over carbonation from the beer creating foam or that it is simply supposed to look that way.

One last note, I am purposefully not being scientific when I talk about my vinegar. I prefer to know less so as to be more in tune with the wild side of the fermemntation. I know this can sound stupid or crazy to some, but back before there were books, this all happened by chance, and that is what intrigues me about wild fermentation.

There is one book I use, though, Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz. I love this book. It is insightful, educational and it possesses a similar passion for the wild that I have myself. A favorite excerpt from the introduction states, “Fermentation is everywhere, always. It is an everyday miracle, the path of least resistance. Microscopic bacteria and fungi (encompassing yeasts and molds) are in every breath we take and every bite we eat. Try-as many do-to eradicate them with antibacterial soaps, antifungal creams, and antibiotic drugs, there is no escaping them. They are ubiquitous agents of transformation, feasting upon decaying matter, constantly shifting dynamic life forces from one miraculous and horrible creation to the next.”

Happy fermenting!

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Filed under Beer, DIY, Fermentation and Yeast, Test Items

The Dark Passenger Cascadian Dark Ale (CDA) {Extract}.

Written by the hubs,

The Dark Passenger was made at the recommendation of the RootCellar. What we discovered about this particular batch is that it would also a beer that can sit in a root cellar for some time and get better with age. As with many very dark and robust beers their flavors tend to become more discerning and complex as they age. This beer was brewed with a good amount of Caraffa II and Chocolate malts. There was also some black patent malt that added to the extra dark color of this beer. The Cascadian Dark Ale is not a style of beer that has been around long. Some like to call it at Black IPA, but this beer style and the people who have championed its rise to fame hail from Cascadia. Also, the fact that this beer utilized some of our home grown citrusy NW Centennial & Cascade hops, lends even more credence to it receiving the moniker of CDA versus Black IPA.  Semantics aside it has been a good beer so far and continues to taste better with each bottle that we open. So far it has spent over a month in bottles and it continues to get better with age. Just like the RootCellar herself.

Hat tip to Peter Reed at Serious Eats-Homebrewing for the recipe.

Extract & Grains: 

7 lbs Pilsner Liquid Malt Extract

1 lb 4 oz Chocolate Malt

1 lb Caraffa II

12 oz Crystal 80L

12 oz Crystal 40L

2 oz Black Patent

Hop & Adjunct Schedule:

1 oz Centennial @ 60 min

1 oz Centennial @ 45 min

1 oz Cascade @ 30 min

.5 oz Cascade @ 15 min

.5 oz Cascade @ 5 min

1 oz Cascade dry hop addition for 7 days in secondary

Pitch Wyeast 1056 American Ale yeast with wort at 70 to 68 degrees. Ferment for 14 days then move to secondary for 7 days with dry hops.

Drink it up…but don’t drink em’ all. Keep a few of for aging.


Filed under Beer, Dairy Free, Edible Plants, From the Garden, Vegetarian

2012 Malt Vinegar Project – Store Bought.

In 2011 the hubs and I started down a path of interest in wild yeast and open fermentation. We have started several activities that are directly interconnected to these things. We have been brewing our own beer, which you can read about here, if you have not already. I also started some cider vinegar in October with unpasteurized cider from the farm. I also tried starting sourdough, three times, from wild yeast. All three ultimately failed, but I believe this was due to the cold temperatures in my house during the cold fall that we had. In November I started some cranberry vinegar with leftover cranberries from this amazing stuffing.

At the end of 2011, even more smitten with wild yeast and open fermentation I added some goals to my bucket list for 2012. One of these goals was to continue my vinegar project, but to make sure I blog about it so that everyone can get as motivated about yeast and bacteria as I am! Weird, right!

In any case, we wasted no time. On January 1 we started our first malt vinegar. This is a trial run and we hope to someday use our own beer to make this product. For this batch we used Guinness. We used the “mother” from the cider vinegar that has been fermenting since October. In one of the jars, the vinegar is almost completely evaporated at this point and the mother is quite large and in the other jar, there is still a significant amount of vinegar and another large mother. Our goal is to use this throughout the next several months to start more batches of vinegar, that we are actually going to use. This first batch really just turned into a mother growing endeavor, which is a great money saver as I have seen the stuff for quite a bit on the internet. Now we can use it to grow any vinegar we want. You can read about vinegar mother, here.

Malt Vinegar.


16 ounces of Guinness draught

1 large spoonful of cider vinegar “mother”


Open beer and leave it to sit on the counter for 24 hours. This takes the carbonation out of it. The next day pour it into your container of choice, make sure it has a wide mouth and is not metal. I use a glass jar. Add the “mother” and affix cheese cloth over the top of the container to keep the fruit flies out of it (This is a true reality of making vinegar, the fruit flies love it. I have found that 2 tablespoons of store bought cider vinegar with 3 drops of dish soap in it will catch all of the flies you can find. Just set it near the fermenting vinegar). Do not seal this, it needs oxygen and access to wild yeast and bacteria that will be in the air.

Place the container in a warm, dark place, like the pantry and allow it to sit for 6-8 weeks.

Stay tuned. I will be back with updates as this ages.


Filed under Beer, DIY, Fermentation and Yeast, Test Items

The LisaWeizen Wheat Ale {Extract}.

Written by the hubs,

This beer was made in honor of my mother-in-law’s (Lisa) trip to the NW for the Holidays this year. The NW and Portland, in general, are known for it’s hoppy beers and it always seems like when family from less hop forward beer regions come to town their pallets are challenged to find a beer that they are accustomed to drinking. To steer them away from their more ‘domestic’ ways I decided to make a light American Wheat beer. It turned out pretty good and should be at peak freshness when the Root Cellers’ Mother arrives tomorrow.

Here’s the recipe:

Grains & Extracts

3 lbs Pilsner Liquid Malt Extract

1 lb Briees CBW Bavarian Wheat Dried Malt Extract (DME)

1 lb Pilsner Malt

1 lb Wheat Malt

8 oz Crystal 40

4 oz Cara-Pils/Dextrine

Hop Schedule
.5 oz Mt. Hood @ 60 minutes

.5 oz Mt. Hood @ 30 minutes

1 tsp Irish Moss @ 15 minutes

1 oz. Cascade @  5 minutes


1010 Wyeast American Wheat

OG: 1.050

FG: 1.012

Fermented at around 66 to 68 for 14 days in the primary. No secondary.

Drink it up!

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Filed under Beer, From the Garden, Vegetarian

Spent Grain Pizza Dough.

The three doughs. See the one on the left, looks like was!

The mad rush to use spent grain continues in our household and dinner guests are excuse to use something else. Friday we had a pizza party for which I make three different pizza doughs. The first was sans spent grain (in case they didn’t turn out!). It was a simple spelt flour and dried thyme dough. I also made two versions of of spent grain dough. One version used regular all purpose flour and spent grain and the other, 10 grain flour and spent grain. I used all purpose flour for kneading in both cases.

The spelt dough was gorgeous and tasty, but it was the first time I did not add wheat flour to it and it fell apart (not enough gluten). So I ended up rolling it in stromboli, which was a hit nonetheless.

The result varied between the two spent grain doughs. The one with 10 grain flour actually turned out more like a crust. I am going to try and make something else with it and if it turns out I will share it later. But the all purpose flour and spent grain dough was a huge hit. I cannot see why I would not add spent grain to all of my pizza dough moving forward. It is a great way to use up a cup of spent grain and it does not change much in the dough, except the color. Very tasty!

All Purpose Flour & Spent Grain Pizza Dough.


1 C warm water (115-120 degrees)

1 T natural cane sugar

2 t yeast

1 t kosher salt

1 T olive oil

1 C wet spent grain (I used crystal 60, chocolate and carafa)

2-3 C all purpose flour + more for kneading


Put water and sugar in a large bowl. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add yeast by sprinkling it over the water. Allow it to proof 5-10 minutes (if it proofs well, it will be foamy, however, don’t worry if it sort of fails and just sinks to the bottom, commercial yeast will be just fine). Add salt and oil. Add flour and mix with a spatula.

Liberally flour your kneading surface (i.e. the counter!). Dump the mixture out onto the counter and knead it, adding flour until it comes together and has an elastic texture. Pull the dough into a ball.

Wash and dry your bowl. Coat with olive oil and put the dough in smooth side down, flip it so that the seams are at the bottom and the oil covered top is facing you. Cover tightly with plastic wrap or a lid. Place in a warm place for at least an hour.

As a note, I make my dough the day ahead now and just leave it on the counter, so it has about 24 hours to rise. This is particularly helpful if your yeast doesn’t proof well.

After allowing the dough to rise turn it out on a liberally floured surface and knead it into a ball. Cover with a towel while you preheat your oven or pizza stone and prep your toppings. When ready, roll it out with a rolling pin and cover with toppings. Don’t forget to put it on the peel before you weigh it down with cheesy goodness!



Filed under Beer, Bread, Dairy Free, Grains/Rice, Pizza, Spent Grain

Peanut Butter Spent Grain Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I know I just told you the other day that I only have one cookie recipe and that got me thinking, why? I should have more and I have a lot of spent grain on hand. The more beer we brew, the more spent grain I have. I have composted a decent share of it as we just don’t have space to store it, but I am also learning how to cook with it. I found these cookies over at Omnoicon and made just a few changes to it. I think it turned out great and these little morsels are just healthy enough to make you overlook the chocolate! They are almost like little breakfast cookies. I can already see variations of this in my future.

Peanut Butter Spent Grain Chocolate Chip Cookies. Makes 20-24 cookies.


1/3 C natural peanut butter

2 T unsalted butter, melted

1 C cane sugar

1/3 C milk (I used 1%)

1 T vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups wet spent grains (I used a mix of crystal 80, chocolate and carafa)

1 1/2 C whole wheat flour

1/2 C all purpose flour

1 t baking powder

1 t kosher salt

1/2 C chocolate chips

1/2 C chopped toasted walnuts


Preheat oven to 425.

Combine flours, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

In a separate bowl cream together peanut butter, butter, milk, and vanilla. Add spent grains and mix to combine completely. Slowly add flour and mix to combine. Using a spatula add chocolate chips and walnuts.

Place spoonfuls on a silpat liked baking sheet, press down to slightly flatten. The cookies don’t really spread so you if you want them flatter, you have to do it before you bake them. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown (remember there are no eggs in this so you do not have to cook until completely set). Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes so they do not fall apart when you try to move them. Complete the cooling process on a wire cooling rack.


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Filed under Beer, Dessert, Spent Grain, Vegetarian

Spent Grain No-Knead Bread.

I am quickly expanding the foods I am making with the plethora of spent grains that brewing beer every week produces. I added it to my first bread this past weekend and the result was great! I love the staple no-knead recipe and I love to alter it. The spent grains fit in quite well here, as did the replacement of most of the all purpose flour with spelt flour. It was so pretty as dough because of the chocolate grians.

Spent Grain No-Knead Bread. Adapted from the New York Times.


2 1/2 C spelt flour

1 1/4 t kosher salt

1/4 t yeast

1 C wet spent grains (I used crystal 60, chocolate, and carafa)

1 1/2 C water, room temperature

1-2 C all purpose flour (for later!)


Combine spelt flour, salt and yeast. Add spent grains and combine. Add water and combine with a spatula. Place in a warm location for 12-24 hours.

Put a liberal amount of all purpose flour on the counter and turn dough out onto it. You will want to continue adding flour as the dough is going to be quite liquidy and thick. Fold the dough over itself over and over until you are able to contain it in a single location. Do not be afraid to continue to add flour, it will likely take quite a bit. Once you have a the dough contained, make sure there is a good amount of flour under and around it and cover with a towel (not terrycloth).

Allow the dough to set for two hours. After 90 minutes put a dutch oven with a lid on it into the oven and preheat to 450 degrees. After 30 minutes, open oven, remove lid, and add dough. Cut top if you want to control the shape of the top of the load. Settle the pot a little to spread the dough and replace the lid. Bake 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake 15 minutes longer.

Remove from oven and pot and place on a cooling rack for at least an hour. I strongly suggest eating this warm with butter!

Related: 10 Grain No-Knead Bread.



Filed under Beer, Bread, Dairy Free, Grains/Rice, Spent Grain, Vegan, Vegetarian