Raise the roof on IPA.

The Brewers.  Aaron and Rob started brewing about a year a go when Rob’s wife bought him a home brew kit the neighbors and friends decided to start brewing. Armed with two homebrew kits and an introductory session at My Old Kentucky Home Brew they were ready to create a Red and a Dogfish Head 90-Minute clone. They were hooked.

As IT and Finance guys, Rob and Aaron were attracted to brewing not only by the chance to make good tasting beer, but also the research, technology and details of the brewing process. Or as they describe it, “the nerdy aspect of beer making.” After auditing some of their inventory I would say they are doing just fine.

The Brew.  Today they were running an experiment to see the effect of hop varieties. They selected recipes for Lagunitas IPA and Anderson Valley IPA clones which have the same Crystal, German Light, Cara-Pils Malt grain base.

The Lagunitas uses a mix of Magnum, Cascade and Willamette hops to provide bittering and a large dose of Cascade for aroma. The Anderson Valley uses a little Columbus for bittering and healthy heap of Cascade for aroma.

Both would use American Ale Yeast. Steep, boil and temperature variables were kept exactly the same for a pretty standard 60-minute boil on a mini mash recipe. Instead of dry hopping, both of these recipes called for a healthy dose of hops on flameout. So they added four ounces of Cascade picked from my vines that morning in each of the brews after the heat was turned off.

I was able to return and taste the final product. Both were excellent beers. The complexity of the hop combination in the Lagunitas IPA made it a little more interesting beer for me.

The Brewing. Rob’s Highland home kitchen provided a great place to brew. Actually it would be a great place to do about anything. The kids, family dog and even a visit by the grandparents made the day a family affair.

The self professed “geek brewers” weighed, measured, recorded and monitored every step with great care. They use the iBrewMaster app to track their process and catalog recipes.

They have collectively brewed about 17 batches since starting to brew about a year ago. They are still feeling their way through the processes, and justifying the purchase of more gadgets.

I experienced something during this brew session that has never happened before. Also not sure I will ever see it again. Let me set this scene. A beautiful September afternoon with warm sun streaming in the windows of this open kitchen. Drinking hoppy craft beer. Music. Smell of fresh hops in the air. Aroma of grains stepping. Life is good. Out of the corner of my eye I see Rob’s wife up on the roof cleaning the gutters.

Now I have heard wives tell their husband not to make a mess. Wives that complain about the odor. Wives that join in the brewing. Wives that go off with a glass of wine to read a book. Wives that leave the house, but never a wife that cleans the leaves out of the gutter while you are enjoying a brew day. I don’t know this for a fact, but I bet she chops firewood as well. Wow, is it good to be Rob or what?

The Brewer’s Thoughts.  These guys are becoming good home brewers. Their attention to details and desire to improve makes every batch a learning experience that creates better beer.

Unfortunately this was the team’s last brew session together before Aaron moves across the country to start a new job. The good news is that he is working for the Delicato Family Vineyards in Napa Valley, California. And what is the one thing that can make Napa better…. fresh brewed beer.

Rob and Aaron were online looking at potential houses with good floor plans for brewing. There were some pretty good options with a nice place for the brew pot on the deck overlooking the valley, hills and vineyards. Road Trip!