It was an exciting weekend!

Friday night  we made our second to last yeast starter of the year. As I said in my previous post, I am sad to see brewing season drawing to a close. DB and I have such a good time brewing together that I’ll really miss it. But we also have a really good time gardening together, so it’s not like we wont be doing fun things as a family. Sometimes I wonder what people who don’t brew and don’t garden do with themselves…

Saturday we brewed our Patersbier. Pretty much everything we brew is fairly alcoholic and robust, with the exception of the Paters. It’s the closest we get to Lawn-Mower Beer. The fermentables consist entirely of 0.5lb Carapils and 6 lbs Pilsen LME, giving us an O.G. of 1.041 – way lower than our usual original gravities of 1.065 or higher. Also, most of our beers this year have had at least some specialty grains with a lovibond of 400° or higher. Carapils has 1.5°L! I’m usually in charge of steeping the specialty grains while DB gets the kettle and burner set up outside and I’m looking at the pot and thinking, “Shouldn’t it be darker!?!” But being the scholarly brewers we are, we keep extensive brewing notes and I was able to confirm that I had the same reaction when we brewed it last year.

Look how light it is!

Brew day went off without a hitch – well, only a minor hitch when I got ahead of myself and had DB add the LME to the kettle before we achieved a full boil, but nothing too major… 🙂 By 3pm, everything was tidied up and we were enjoying the other exciting thing about Saturday – it was time to try Barbara’s Blaster! It was fully carbonated and is awesome!!! It’s hoppy, but not too bitter – DB and I both agree that the addition of 2 extra ounces of Simcoe was both necessary and brilliant. (Yeah, me!) It’s got nice caramelly and toasty notes on the finish. I’m pretty sure this is going to be one of those beers that doesn’t last long in our house.

Here I am enjoying a glass of Barbara’s Blaster.

Cheers, Mom! Kick Cancer's Ass!

At the end of the day, there was a truly beautiful sight in our brew room…

Saturday after brewing and all day Sunday, we started tackling our next monumental task – planning the 2012 garden. As previously mentioned, DB is a cultivar snob. I love to give him a hard time about this (because he is such a dork at heart) but truthfully, it’s a great quality that translates into us having the best plants for our garden and not busting our butts trying to grow something that doesn’t like our location.

Here’s how choosing a plant for the garden goes…

Step 1: I first consult The Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide and check out the cultivars it lists as tasty and productive and generally awesome.

Step 2: DB then cross references the Guide to North Carolina Vegetable Gardening to see if any of the cultivars I found are confirmed to be suitable for our area. If there are, we move straight onto Step 3. If there aren’t, we go by the types listed in DB’s book, rather than in mine.

Step 3: Armed with our list of acceptable cultivars, we scour the huge stack of gardening catalogs that DB has religiously collected all winter in order to compare the plant descriptions. We debate the pros and cons of each plant and (hopefully) agree on one or two to try.

Step 4: We then re-scour the huge stack of gardening catalogs to find the best deal on our chosen plant. I duly note the plant, where we are planning on purchasing said plant or seeds, and when and where we are planning on planting said plant.

Undertaking the arduous task of garden planning, armed with a homebrew

Needless to say, it takes us awhile to plan the garden. But it’s awfully fun. We debate Detroit Dark Red versus Kestrel beets (we’re going with Kestrel and Red Ace), discuss the qualities we’re looking for in a watermelon (I want one that’s only 5 -6 lbs; we’re going with Sugarbaby), and try to decide if its worth it to plant shallots again this year when they’ve done poorly the last two (we’re going to give it one more shot).

I’m really excited to start gardening this year. When we  found out I was pregnant, one of the first things DB said was, “I can’t wait to get the bean out in the garden with us!” He also has already worked out a plan where LB earns a certain amount for every squash bug she picks off the plants. (It started at 10¢ a squash bug but has since decreased to 1¢ each, given the number of bugs we had last year. We would be broke if we paid 10¢ a bug…) Now, LB is certainly not to the point that she can “help” us or earn her squash bug money, but that doesn’t mean we won’t schlep her out there with us anyway.



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