After a trip to Steinbart's, where many hops were purchased, I swung by and picked up The Beerax for moral and spiritual guidance and then set up my al-fresco brewhouse on my patio. My new propane burner was fantastic and in no time at all I was ready to mash. So mash I did. Here is a picture of the grain sack early on in the mash.
Then it was time for the powdered malt extract andhere the trouble began. After stirring the malt extract a little I noticed my floating thermometer was trying to float horizontally. I figured at fist this was due to malt extract - pretty gooey stuff before it dissolves - sticking to it. But when I pulled it out I discovered, to my horror, that it had shattered at the bottom leaving behind glass and weighting pellets of unknown provenance. [In the picture you can see the offending thermometer] The thermometer itself which rests inside the glass container, was intact (and thus no mercury contamination - if there is any in these things anymore), so there was a few moments when I pondered continuing on and straining out the debris. After all, the little weighting pellets couldn't be lead could they? No one would be the wiser, I thought, and what is a little shard of glass in a beer anyway but a fun amusement?
Fortunately, seeing my moment of weakness, Jeff looked at me in the eye and said "I 'aint drinking your beer man..." Of course he was right and so a mad dash to Steinbart's ensued - in rush hour, argh! - to procure more grain and malt extract. And in this cautionary tale lies yet another reason homebrewing is not a money saver - this will end up being an expensive beer, economies of scale indeed.
So after a refreshing jaunt through Portland traffic, back we arrived and re-started the entire process with a new thermometer. Once the grain bill was fully infused the fun began. I, being the Beer-Whisperer, had an unconventional sense that I should add the low alpha acid hops early, creating a base of gentle bitterness that would then be layered upon with pungent, high AA, hops later in the boil. Jeff, however, started getting skittish about the result being under-hopped and was strangely unimpressed by my Beer-Whisperer's certainty that my instinct was True and Good.
This unsettled me. Jeff is, after all, the Beer-Savant (or the Rain Man of beer as I like to call him) and my conviction started to wane, so I capitulated. [Later Jeff would say that he was merely posing the question and not making a suggestion - so now I call him the passive-aggressive Rain Man of beer] I thus threw in an ounce of the ultra-high AA Simcoe hops and switched the order of the moderate AA Cascades and the lower Crystals. More Simcoe and Amarillo were added late and in the picture below you can see the wonderful, glorious oil-slick of hop resin as well as the remaining Amarillo waiting in the carboy as my dry-hops.
Maybe Jeff was right, thought I, as the final product in the carboy whispered to me that it was good. I have had a bit of a under-fermentation problem recently, so I pitched two packs of Wyeast's American Ale II yeast, which reputedly is the Anchor Ale yeast. Never used it before but it, of course, whispered to me that it was the One.
And so The Hopopotamus™sits in my basement fermenting away getting ready to make its world premier in another few weeks.
Over at the Beeronomics blog (which is simply a collection of all my Beeronomics posts from this blog) A commentator noted that perhaps my assertion that The Hopopotamus™name was a registered trademark was suspect as Roots has already had a beer of that name. I had not known of (or more likely not remembered) the Root's brew, but in any event Craig spelled it Hoppopotamus whereas I go for the more parsimonious use of the p. Regardless the registered trademark symbol was entirely a joke, but lest the feds get whiff of The Hopopotaumus™- and surely they will what with all the hops - I have switched to the TM symbol. So there.
And I did rip-off the name, but not from Craig Nicholls, rather I stole it from The Flight of the Conchords. Enjoy: