New Location

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017 by

This past summer, we purchased our first home in Black Diamond, WA, and did a lot of renovations, and we’re finally settled in. That means I finally have time to get the brewery set up again. I haven’t been able to brew since May, and I’m itching to boil some wort again!

The house has a small partial basement with an external entrance. With easy access to water and wiring, and an external wall for ventilation, it’s the perfect spot to set up the Underhill brewery. It’ll be pretty cozy, but with the external entrance, I’ll actually be able to start the federal licensing process. I’ll be documenting the process over the next couple months, culminating with a special inaugural brew.

Here’s what the space currently looks like (my home office is set up down there as well):

Stay tuned for more updates as I build out the brewery!

The Hopyard 2016

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016 by

Last year, I purchased 3 hop rhizomes and planted them in containers, and the Underhill Hopyard was born. I used large Rubbermaid bins with holes drilled in the bottom as the containers, and built adjustable trellises for them based on an article in Brew Your Own magazine, which worked really well. I purchased Cascade, Willamette, and Mt. Hood rhizomes, focusing on Northwest US varieties knowing that they grow well around here. Hops don’t hit their stride until around the third year, so the first year harvest was pretty meager, but I was able to make use of a few ounces of wet hops in a couple beers.

The 2015 hopyard: Willamette, Cascade, and Mt. Hood hops

The 2015 hopyard: Willamette, Cascade, and Mt. Hood hops

This year, I picked up a couple more varieties, and now have a total of 5 containers, adding Chinook and Centennial. These two Northwest natives are both higher in alpha acids than the other varieties, which means I need fewer ounces to achieve the same level of bittering, but they also work well as flavor and aroma hops.

The 2016 hopyard: Willamette, Centennial, Cascade, Chinook, and Mt. Hood hops

The 2016 hopyard: Willamette, Centennial, Cascade, Chinook, and Mt. Hood hops

With the warm weather we’ve been having this early in the spring, the hops have really taken off already. They need plenty of water, but they love the sun, and are actually pretty easy to grow. Harvesting goes pretty quickly (especially with a few extra hands), and now that I have an oast (which is basically a dehydrator specifically for drying hops), I can efficiently dry my harvest in the fall, then vacuum seal and freeze them for use throughout the year.

The "new" hop oast for drying the crop

The “new” hop oast for drying the crop

To make full use of this year’s crop, I’m planning on brewing a Harvest Ale that utilizes 100% homegrown hops. It’ll be a bit of a gamble, since I won’t know the exact levels of alpha acids to calculate bitterness, but it should be tasty nonetheless. Keep an eye out for it at our tastings this fall!

The final product, dried, sealed, and ready to be frozen

The final product, dried, sealed, and ready to be frozen

Featured Beverage: Ginger Pale Ale

Saturday, April 2nd, 2016 by

I’m a big fan of ginger. I love candied ginger, ginger tea, ginger beer soda, pickled ginger—you name it. Naturally, when I saw a pale ale with ginger on tap at a local Chinese dumpling place, I had to try it. But I was left wanting more, and so I began my quest to brew a better ginger pale ale.

Enjoying a pint (or two) of the Ginger Pale Ale

The beer is designed as a classic American pale ale with generous additions of fresh ginger root that are complemented by citrusy Cascade hops. A simple grain bill of mainly American two-row malt and a small amount of medium crystal malt allows the ginger the stand in the forefront, and the hop bitterness is balanced just right make this beer very drinkable without being either bracing or cloying.

Lots of fresh ginger root, diced and ready for the boil

Lots of fresh ginger root, diced and ready for the boil

Our Ginger Pale Ale is still very much a work in progress, but it’s already a palate pleaser, and I’m excited to continue improving it. For the next batch, I’m planning to bump up the ginger a bit more (did I mention I like ginger?), as well as increase the hop flavor with more Cascade hops and possibly another Northwest hop variety for some complexity.

Lautering onto the first wort hops before the boil

Featured Beverage: Table Beer

Thursday, February 11th, 2016 by

Drinking Table Beer

Drinking a glass of Table Beer

I kicked off 2016 by brewing a new recipe as part of the Alchemy series: a Belgian single that I’m simply calling Table Beer. The goal is a highly sessionable Belgian-style pale ale, brewed in the tradition of the patersbier (Dutch for “father’s beer”) that is consumed by the Trappist monks and not typically released to the public. It comes in under 4% ABV, and is complemented by homegrown hops and a hint of spices.

Table Beer Fermenting

Nice big Kraeusen on the Table Beer during fermentation

This beer has a very simple recipe, with the grist consisting entirely of Pilsner malt. Saaz hops were used for bittering, while homegrown Mt. Hood hops were used for a light hop flavor and aroma, and coriander and sweet orange peel added with restraint to provide a subtle complexity. It was fermented with a Belgian yeast strain that provides additional fruity and spicy characteristics. The result is a fairly dry pale ale that is refreshing and very easy to drink, yet showcases a distinct Belgian-inspired complexity of flavor.

Kegging Table Beer

Kegging half of the Table Beer

I force-carbonated half of the 10 gallon batch in a keg, and bottled the remainder for bottle conditioning. It’ll be interesting to compare the two in a couple weeks to see if there’s a noticeable difference between force-carbonating and bottle conditioning this beer. The kegged version already tastes great, though!