Gentle readers, I know I have not been keeping up with my blogging duties, but there is a very good (and very BIG) reason for that. It's still too early to divulge exactly what's been going on, but what I can tell you is this: I am moving to Seattle in September to begin an exciting new endeavor that will be of definite interest to the readers of this blog. The last few months have involved a lot of preparation for this, and it has required me to do quite a lot of work and travelling. I'll have more to say on the subject in the coming months!
That said, there is a lot of exciting stuff happening in my homebrewery. Not least of which is the discovery of a dedicated gluten-free malthouse, Grouse Malting Company. I have in my pantry almost 40 lbs of sample malts from them that I am going to take for a test run later this week. Their owner/maltstress, Twila, is a gluten-free homebrewer herself, and that gives me good reason to have confidence in her product. Expect an entry in a month or two when I taste the first beer made with her malts. Note that they are currently in the process of expanding and may take quite a bit of time to respond to inquiries—as far as I can tell, it's practically a one-person operation at this point, but Twila says the demand has been tremendous, so I have a good feeling about their future.
In addition, I was in Portland last month, and let me tell you, that city is a gluten-free paradise. I spent my time there subsisting mostly on paleo food from the Cultured Caveman and delicious smoothies from Kure Juice Bar. I got my first taste of Reverend Nat's Hard Cider, in the form of the mind-blowingly delicious Hallelujah Hopricot, a dry-hopped apple/apricot cider fermented with Belgian ale yeast (!!!!). Highly recommend—it is truly cider for craft beer drinkers, and more of a pale ale than some gluten-free pale ales I can think of. After enjoying a gluten-free burger and a pint of a gluten-free Belgian ale at the Deschutes Brewpub, I went and picked up a case of beer from Harvester Brewing--some IPA #1 and the last of their Dubbel, for $65! Beats paying ~$100 to have it shipped down to Cali, that's for sure. I also got to taste some of their R&D beers: a blend of the first and third iterations of hop-monster IPA #2 (which just hit shelves), a single-hop Santiam IPA (which really floored me with its minty and herbal hop flavor), and a version of their Dark Ale brewed with different hopping and some dark candi syrup (which I found to be an improvement over the regular stuff).
Even better, Harvester's James Neumeister was kind enough to share a few drinks with me and chat about his operation and the state of gluten-free beer in general. He told me that their production has increased 900% this fiscal year, which is awesome and not at all surprising, as they're the best GF beer in the country right now. I was astonished to learn that he conducts his mashes with only α-amylase—I'm not sure exactly what his secret is, as my attempts at using oats (let alone chestnuts or buckwheat) in a mash with just α-amylase have been pure disaster, but there it is straight from the horses's mouth. I was much less astonished to learn that for quite a while, prior to the launch of Harvester, he was homebrewing on a DAILY BASIS. Here I thought I was nuts for brewing once or twice a week! I also learned that like me, he spent quite a while exploring ideas from Stephen Harrod Buhner's Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers...go figure, eh? Guess we out-of-the-box brewers think alike! All in all, it was an awesome chat, and I was mightily impressed with James's craft brewer spirit. Harvester has a bright future, which is good news for us gluten-free beer drinkers!
Now that I'm back in Cali and back to brewing, I hope I can update this more frequently. I've got a TON of posts lined up, it's just a matter of typing 'em. Check back soon, or better yet, become a follower!