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April 13, 2009

Hops!

Hops.jpg
Hops - the wonderful flower of a vining plant that gives beer its distinct aroma and flavor. In fact, I would dare say that, above all else, hops define what makes beer, beer. Hops are to beer what peated malts are to scotch or wild yeast strains are to lambic. They are its quintessential characteristic which make beer taste like nothing else on earth. Rumor has it that they are also reasonably easy to grow and produce in a small space, which is why, as a home brewer, they were one of the first things planted in my garden after we moved into the house. That was last spring and while they put on some growth, they did not impress in their first season. That's why I was so curious to see how they overwintered. Fortunately I was not disappointed. While the sprouts pictured are small, all six rhizomes planted survived and seem to be getting an early start on growing this spring. The sprouts are also considerably thicker than they appeared last year when they sprouted which gives me hope that the vines will be considerably more robust this year. Stay tuned for more updates as the growing season really kicks into high gear.

April 1, 2009

Collecting Vino

For the past several years I've been dreaming of collecting wine. In fact I have this scheme to build a cellar in the basement, buy a case of collectible wine of the same vintage as Liam's birth year, and stash it away until he's 21 (not sure if I'm going to share it with him when he turns 21 - maybe it will just be a celebratory gift for me and Stacy). I haven't built the cellar yet, but it's getting closer in my mind's eye and in my list of house projects, which is why the following two articles are so timely. Earlier this week the NY Times published a great article about the world of wine futures and in particular they talked about the current tastings going on of the 2008 vintage as relates to futures sales. At about the same time, The Heavy Table published an entertaining post about an oenophobe (aka The Heavy Table Editor James Norton) and the efforts of three local wine gurus to bring him into the fold of wine lovers via an evening of tasting some solid, cellared wines with some years behind them. These stories just raised my interest level more. I've got to learn more and get ready for the 2008 vintage to go on sale in a couple years.