It’s been a long time between posts for me; there are several reasons but essentially the two primary ones are; 1) Until, a fortnight ago I had very little (Sweet FA) to write about, 2) The last fortnight has been crazy, crazy busy.
So, starting with the news; our brewery arrived. Finally. Only about three months late, but let’s not go there (Some idiot screwed up when he was ordering). It also happens to have been the first week of sunshine we have had in forever, so our Hops have decided it’s time to go crazy (leading to literally days of trimming, training and re-training shoots) at the same time as assembling the jigsaw that is our brewhouse and brewery as well as making a start building a cellar door in Busselton town centre (more on that later).
For anyone that hasn’t followed the journey so far; we are attempting to be entirely self-sufficient brewers- growing everything on site (hops and barley), using rainwater and some awesome yeast from our (pristine) air in the southwest. Basically going back to ye-old ways of brewing, pre industrialisation and commercialisation (where everything was uber local and seasonal). In case you missed it; WE LOVE LOCAL PRODUCTS. To bring us right on back to the 21st century we have adopted some kick-ass technology to make brewing a breeze; from our awesome off-grid electrical/battery bank to help save the planet, through to semi-automated brewery controls and a wifi-enabled ferment monitoring system (so that there is a chance I’ll be able to sleep at night knowing that everything is A-OK in the Brewery) Check my note on sustainability here
What’s in a name? Rocky Ridge is the name of our family farm, named by my great-great-great-great Grandfather in homage to the ridge of ironstone that runs the width of our main farming property. The full colour version of our logo utilises the texture and colour of a sample of the rock taken from the farm- but in a more contemporary frame. Matt- our designer and graphics guru really nailed it for us, we are super stoked to have had his input in this process!
Essentially the last two weeks have been crazy busy out here at the brewery, getting our tanks lined up, the pipework in place (minus a couple of small connections I’m yet to puzzle out) and essentially everything we can do done before the engineer arrives to complete the final hook-up and commissioning. Thank God I have some very useful friends who are a bit savvier (with a lot more common sense) than I am. You know who you are, Cheers!
As I mentioned earlier, Our Hops are just starting their skyward run. It’s been a hectic few weeks between farming weeds, pulling them out and finally starting the (highly laborious) process of training the bines around strings. Individually. 9 bines per plant x 650 odd plants, plus trimming back any excess….it’s a huge and hugely rewarding process to go through. I’ve learnt so many things about these plants in the last 12 months, it’s crazy. Having to approach them as both a grower and brewer is an incredible experience because it gives a real appreciation of the effort that goes into producing a quality product, from ensuring adequate vernalisation and stored nutrients, to devising site-specific nutrient plans including use of counter and cover cropping- not to mention monitoring the moisture levels in the ground. A massive shout out to Trey and Olivia at Karridale Hop Cottages; collaborating with you guys in setting this up has been fantastic, I think the shared knowledge is growing fantastically and should lead to some great results for the industry in WA. Anyone interested don’t hesitate to drop us a line; always more than happy to chat hops!
Moving right along, we have started preliminary works on a cellar door/taphouse in the City of Busselton….I won’t reveal the location just yet (it’s pretty awesome), however we have Council approval for a restaurant on location- fingers crossed we can get a modification through for this and start pouring our own pints shortly after brewing our first beers! If we do, Our FOUNDERS will be the first to get an exclusive peak at the venue, with a couple of beers thrown in for good measure. If you haven’t signed up yet, get onto it now. I can assure you it’s a good decision and
you will regret it if you miss out!
Lastly, I’ve been working a lot on some of the recipes that I spoke about and hinted at earlier, along with a very firm plan of attack for our first brews. As a pre-note; I have a very clean approach to brewing- don’t overcomplicate things and allow the ingredients to shine. Our Pale Ale will be brewed using a specially devised Pale base malt ONLY (No crystal here guys), showcasing a combination of Dr Rudi (Supa Alpha), Cascade and Chinook hops. I’ll let you work out what order I’m using them in and how- ask me if you really want to know, but safe to say there is a generous dry hop and there will be a high utilisation from our awesome Hop back (check the pictures). It’s worth noting all our hops are grown on site and whole cone- no pellets here.
Our IPA (India Pale Ale) uses the same base malt as the pale ale, with a dash of our house crystal added at the start of sparge for a delicious dose of biscuity goodness. We will be utilising Dr Rudi, Cascade, Chinook and Flinders hops for this bad boy. Expect lashings of pine, resin and deep cleansing bitterness. I’ll save the midstrength for later- but just to tease you a little bit- the third beer in my brew queue is my first seasonal beer. It’s a Golden Ale base, utilising a solid lashing of Pilsner and Pale malts, coupled with a tiny bit of our house crystal. Saaz Hops feature, however don’t expect a huge hop bitterness as we will be barrelling this bad boy in Sem-Sauv barrels with a healthy dosing of Brett. A solid lashing of Blueberries will be added at harvest to finish this baby- so don’t think you’ll see her any time soon…but keep it in the back of your mind!
Guys…Shit is getting real now. Thanks again for everyone who has rendered assistance, supported and backed us over the last year. We’ve come a long way, but have a hell of a journey ahead of us!
Your favourite Brew Wizard