Goodbye Cold Weather, Hello Springtime.
This winter really felt like it wasn't going to end. We were teased with a few 70 degree days in February and then had one of the coldest March's I could remember. A lot happened this winter, so much so, we actually were able to create four different styles of beer this season as opposed to just two for our fall line up. We're really ramping up our brewing in 2017 and we're off to a pretty exciting start.
After the holidays passed and our busy lives settled down a little, we hunkered down with some double batch brewing. We haven't taken a crack at a potential flagship beer since we produced our first batch of Chop Hops during the fall so we knew it was time to start adding to that list. We're all huge fans of porters and knew we wanted to create one for the Terra Costa brand. I'm a huge lover of cold brew coffee and can't start my day until I had my daily cup. It was only natural that our first porter would be a coffee porter.
Cafe Faialenese is our flagship coffee porter built on a
foundation of black, caramel and chocolate malts, with a bitter addition of fresh Nugget hops from Yakima and polished off with....yep you guessed it, a fresh batch of cold brew coffee.
The name we chose for this brew pays homage to a small cafe in our family's town of Faial Da Terra called, Snack Bar Faialenese. It's more than just a bar, its a staple of the community and Im pretty sure people spend more time here than in their own homes. I was impressed with the culture and atmosphere of this place...It's really special. Members of Faial Da Terra congregate at this establishment throughout the day, popping in and out for a fresh cup of espresso, a cold beer and some good conversations. It was here where I had a conversation with some friends about craft beer and it's movement in the United States. The looks on their faces when i talked about beer infused with coffee, peanuts, chillies and other out of the ordinary ingredient combos were priceless. It was through those conversations that really inspired me to start the Terra Costa brand.
To round off the winter seasonal beers we created a winter warmer since our stout and christmas ale supplies were dwindling. I struggled a little with coming up with a name for this beer but, once I did it was obvious. Anticyclone is our first attempt of at a winter warmer. What is a Anticyclone? Well, temps in Azores during the winter months struggle to dip below 50 degrees fahrenheit / 10 degrees celsius and it's because of the Anticyclone weather pattern. An Anticyclone is a weather system with high atmospheric pressure at its center, around which air slowly circulates in a clockwise (northern hemisphere) or counterclockwise (southern hemisphere) direction. Anticyclones are associated with calm, fine weather and also a is a fitting name for a fine winter warmer. The backbone of this beer is made up of British malts and spiced with nutmeg and ginger, the perfect combo of flavor to sip on and day dream about milder temperatures.
Speaking of British malts....we were lucky enough to take an unexpected trip to England in February. I've heard stories of beautiful pubs serving up malt heavy ales, slightly carbonated in casks - boy did these stories ring true. There's nothing like enjoying an english ale in a pub in England. The experience is like no other here in the US.
There were no televisions to distract you from the decorative atmosphere and for the first time I didn't care about not having some sort of sports game/match on TV at the bar while enjoying a beer. Instead, I was highly entertained by watching the bartenders hand pumping ales from the casks in the basement to my glass.
Being exposed to beer culture in England was refreshing. Here in the US, we are so obsessed with hop heavy brews that at times it's easy to forget the true art behind malt character. This trip allowed me to shift lanes a little in regards to recipe design. I promise not to steer too far away from my love for hops but, I feel like my design will be much more balanced going forward.
Talking about hop heavy brews.....we brewed up a fresh batch of our flagship IPA, Chop Hops this past weekend. While at our local homebrew shop I noticed that they had some brew focused propane burners for sale. I've always been curious about these and wanted to move my brewing outdoors so that I had more room to make a mess. After an insightful conversation with the store owner about the BTU output, the yield it had in regards to saving propane and the shear fact that the weather was perfect that day, I was sold. The second batch of Chop Hops turned out to be our first brew outdoors which was a great experience and Im sure my wife will appreciate the fact that the operation has now moved to our backyard. No more sticky countertops!
Our brew last weekend welcomed a much needed change of season with open arms. Aside from looking forward to cracking open a fresh batch of Chop Hops we're putting the finishing touches on a recipe for our first pale ale which we will call, Lupo. We're also in the process of making the jump to fully being an all grain operation. This is something that we wanted to do for a while now but, the original plan was to perfect our techniques for each level of the homebrewing process. Needless to say, we're ahead of schedule and the spring should be an exciting new chapter for Terra Costa.
Now that the weather is starting to get much warmer another year of homebrew gardening is upon us. I took a look at our hop bed and much to my surprise, our second year Nugget hops have sprouted already. Looks like I'll be heading to Home Depot this weekend to grab materials to build a more sturdy trellis. I also want to attempt to grow some American 2-row this year, so we'll see how that goes!
Look forward to sharing some fresh brew with you soon. Cheers!