I started homebrewing now I guess, about 5 years ago…….It all started with me going along with my daughter over to Europe (Paris, Rome, Florence, Munich) on a trip that she had always wanted to take and now she had the chance……As far as I was concerned, I wasn’t that interested at the time……(1997) This to her was all she dreamed of for many years and talked about it whenever the subject could be cultivated to be the top subject at the table……we both listened for sure, but it seemed to be out of the question so it just wasn’t a top priority. One day she came home and announced she was going to make it happen and would I go with her? I said” I don’t think so , I just don’t have the money for a trip like that but maybe you can get someone else to go along”……..She begged and begged me and finally Daddy-o said” Just go. When will you ever have a chance to go to Europe again and especially with our daughter? That would be so memorable and we’ll figure out the money part”. So away we went, and I can’t tell you how exciting and wonderful it was!!
Anyway, that trip introduced me to German, Asian, and Italian style beer……When I got back, I just couldn’t drink the same old Miller Lite anymore!! I needed more richness,boldness and color along with flavor to sit and dwell on while just enjoying a good beer…….. Living in the NW part of the US, there was plenty of small breweries that were springing up all over and each had their own “receipes” . As time went on, I decided to try a 5 gallon batch myself and so I went out and bought the equipment that I needed to try this out……My first receipe was an IPA (India Pale Ale)…..and it turned out very inviting with a golden copper color and a rich , creamy head on the top…..I bottled all the beer in dark brown , long neck bottles and capped them with a bottle capper and place them in some boxes where the light could not get to them and let them condition( let the flavor develop) in a closet for about 6 weeks. the first one I opened and poured in a tall, cold, frosted glass, I was hooked in homebrewing forever……..Next I planted three hop plants, all different varieties, in our yard early in the spring, about March, I think……That’s when its good and rainy here yet and on the cool order for another 6 weeks until it starts to come alive with blossoms all over the yards. The hop plants come as just a 5 or 6 ” piece of stalk with a bud . You plant it sideways, not too deep and wait…….soon a few leaves appear and you are in luck. Sprouts will push up through the ground and after the first year , most of the sprouts should be trimmed off, leaving about 4 nice , sturdy ones and have a pole about 12′ tall for it too climb…they naturally climb clockwise. Leaves appear and then flowers(cones). They are ready to pick around August, which then need to be dried and packaged. Best to freeze them until brewing day………….
It won’t be long and a new batch will be fermenting and be ready for the fall Holidays……
It seemed like an eternity ago (January 20, 14) that I had busily made reservations for this fishing trip and now it was August…….we managed to get morrage for the boat which would not have happened if we had not gone up to Astoria right then and put in for it……….The attendant at the Marina could not assure us but said ” I’ll do my best, I should know for sure by July”………….I always hate to commit to camping spaces when I get an answere like that but none the less, I needed to make arrangements. All I could get on the weekends at the local state park was one night here then one night there and then 5 nights in a row……….. then the same thing for the next weekend, all that moving around……..grrrrrrr… since we were going to stay in this area for 2 weeks, I made one reservation at a private campground near by for 6 days in a row that they had left, but it would be packed in like sardines………the best I could do…….
Now , from the fishing reports coming in, the Coho salmon (Silvers) and Chinook salmon (King) were starting to come up the river………YES! They migrate back to the river that they left from and this year is supposed to be one of the best years with the most fish in history fighting upstream to get to their spawning spot (there are also tons of hatchery fish along with the wild ones) …..They are quite the creatures . No one has, of yet figured out how they know which river to come to and continue up stream to the tributary that they were born in………They are marvelous fish that grow to 50lbs or more and then die………Meanwhile, fisherman getting ready for this event and believe me , there are hundreds of people from all over the world that are in the Astoria , Or. area …..waiting…….waiting……until we get a shower or rain storm. They feel it on their noses and in they come with the tide…………….although they are not very hungry, you may catch one just because they become annoyed with that pesky lure going by them……keep your fingers crossed! All of a sudden , your pole tip goes down……..and the fight is on!! It really is one of the best experiences up there. On the other hand, it’s big water, meaning , you can barely see across in some places, along with deep shipping channel and choppy water, fog, wind,rain, shallow sand bars,waves that can come up the back and rollers! Alot of people get sea sick out there even though you are not technically in the ocean……..
After a couple of days of getting to know this part of the Columbia, we both lost a couple of fish but finally ended up with a good Chinook , about 33″, (you have to use barbless hooks on the Columbia)
All those fish will eventually go up stream (we check how many go over the Bonneville Dam) and we will be about 110 miles East from this spot the middle of Sept. trying for more of these plus walleye fishing for 2 weeks there……….
One evening we went into Astoria for some supper, and the town was sponsoring a regatta in the river for all the people to see……..nice time and good beer!