Parsnip Saison

As the leaves change and cooler weather moves in, root vegetables are harvested. The cold nights boost the sugar and flavor of parsnips and carrots. Parsnips, are usually harvested after the first frost. I've wanted to brew a Parsnip beer for about a year now. The earthy, slight licorice flavor of roasted parsnips is always delicious with dinner. Simply cut into matchsticks and roast with salt, pepper, and thyme until done.

With frost on the ground Parsnips arrived at farmer's market's. I quickly gathered over twenty pounds to roast into a Saison. The earthy, peppery, and lemon peel flavors of Saison style beers should blend well with the parsnips. I roasted twenty three pounds raw to thirteen pounds cooked. It took an hour just to cut the parsnips, and I have decent knife skills. I didn't even peel em', just rinsed with water. If I'm after an earthy flavor from the parsnips why would I peel away the layer that was in contact with the soil. After roasting the parsnips I added hot water to the cooked parsnips and pureed with an immersion blender before being added to the mash. I'm treating the parsnips much like pumpkin, squash, and any vegetable that could benefit from the enzymatic activity of the mash. I was stunned by the parsnip aroma and flavor in the wort. The parsnips were noticeable to the point of a smile. Hopefully some aroma and flavor will remain in the end, post fermentation. Lightly hopped with German Tettnanger for bittering. I decided during the boil to remove any late kettle hop additions to let any parsnip flavor emerge and not be covered up by hops.

Pale Malt, Belgian Pilsner, Wheat Malt, Torrified Wheat, (9%) Vermont grown Raw Barley and Flaked Barley. Vermont grown Parsnip. German Tettnanger hops. French Saison yeast.

Article in the Burlington Free Press

article below is from the Burlington Free Press Issue October 5, 2012

Hip to local hops

October 5, 2012
JERICHO — If you grow it, Joe Lemnah will try to turn it into beer. "Next week I'll probably brew a squash ale," Lemnah said from the makeshift brewery he's set up inside his parents' defunct horse barn in Jericho. "I just found this wicked cool local blue Hubbard squash, which are these absurd, gargantuan squash that have that whole orange flesh. You know, because pumpkin ales are so passé. It's been done to death. Like, there's other orange fruit out there. Let's use them. "
An Essex High School grad, Lemnah, 30, has brewed beer professionally for six years and recently founded the Burlington Beer Company. He has a company website, business cards, stickers and bottled beer, just not a brewery in Burlington. It's coming, he said, within the year.
The brewery will produce some flagship beers, including an India Pale Ale that Lemnah has dubbed "Another IPA."
"So it's easy to order another, badum, tish!" he explained.
Lemnah said his larger objective, however, is to brew an evolving lineup of beers, changing with the seasons and the availability of ingredients.
"I want localization to be at the center of everything, and really be kind of, like, farmers market-inspired, seasonally-focused beers," he said.
Localization beginning with local hops, although "definitely not exclusively local hops," Lemnah said, because "there's too many fun hops from far away." He plans to use Vermont hops for a particular line of beer that would have a "sense of time and place."
Localizing the process lowers his carbon footprint by reducing the shipping distance of ingredients, Lemnah said.
"You're supporting the local economy, the whole 'buy Vermont first'... But like I said before, it really gives that sense of time and place. The hops are going to have a unique character."
East Coast hops
Lemnah gets his local hops from backyard growers like his buddy Zach Summerfield.
Summerfield, who has known Lemnah since high school, said hops have grown up the side of his mother's house in Jericho for nearly 10 years. The hops grow along a 30-foot span of wall to a height of about 25 feet.
"As far as what we've experienced, they've grown like wildfire," said Summerfield, 29, of Colchester. "They're fairly intrusive. They grow onto the deck and into the doors of the house."
Vermont's humid climate, however, isn't particularly conducive to large-scale hop production, according to Heather Darby, an agronomist at the University of Vermont.
"They (the hops) like it, but so does everything else," Darby said, specifically diseases and insects. "When you're in Oregon with dry summers, they don't get the same disease and insect pressure that we do."
Darby began studying hop production in Vermont three years ago when colleagues at Washington State University asked her to do so. They wanted to compare West Coast hops with East Coast hops.
"And simultaneously, there was this sort of new interest in growers and brewers to produce local hops," Darby said. That interest, she said, grew from the localvore movement and a spike in hop prices.
"A lot of brewers want to buy local," she said. "They want a product that is very high quality. It's understanding what that is, and then figuring out, how do we get there."
In studying the vitality of 19 strains of hops at UVM, Darby has found that some hops can and do thrive in Vermont, despite the climate. But she cautions that much work remains to be done if Vermonters want to grow their local hop market.
"Even if we can grow them, which we can, they're very labor intensive to harvest," Darby said. "It requires special equipment to do that, and special equipment to handle them after harvest."
Darby figures upwards of 50 Vermonters have taken to growing small quantities of hops in their yards or on their farms.
"We have a few one-acre hop yards, and then everyone else is under an acre," Darby said. Put together, they make up an estimated total of 5-10 acres. "Once you get above a quarter of an acre, you gotta think about how to mechanize the process."
During the summer, UVM Extension lent a mobile hop harvester, a "shared piece of infrastructure," to two farms, Darby said, in an attempt to push mechanization.
Without a mechanical harvester, the hops have to be picked by hand, which can take upwards of an hour per vine. Impractical for a large harvest, Darby said, even if a grower invites over friends for hop-picking "parties."
"You're gonna run out of friends," Darby said. "It's only gonna be fun once."
However you get them, Summerfield recommends harvesting local hops when you can to brew beer.
"I always find that stuff you grow yourself tends to taste better," Summerfield said. "The hops tend to be very strong. Very large flavor profiles."

Autumnal Squash Ale

Before temperatures even begin to cool down, brewery's start shipping out their seasonal beer's for fall in August and even July. Much like how stores keep putting fall and winter holiday decorations out earlier and earlier every year, breweries are racing to market to keep up with seasonal beer demand. There is nothing I can do to change the push to sell seasonal decorations or beer each year, but I've noticed that the larger by volume the brewery, the earlier their seasonal beer are brewed and on the market. What this means is that at the largest craft breweries in this country fall seasonal's (ie: pumpkins and brown ales) are brewed in May and June. Meaning that by September many of the pumpkin beers on the shelf are already three to four months old. Some smaller brewer's decry that these large brewing company's are moving seasonal release dates up more and more. My seasonal beers will be brewed when the seasonal ingredients are ready. Many times with pumpkin ales, large brewery's use canned pumpkin meat or even no pumpkin at all and just spices (nothing seasonal in the beer, but the marketing). Anyway, enough about beer industry politics. Back to the Burlington Beer Co. Autumnal Squash ale.

My twist on a pumpkin ale is to use winter squash to provide flavor and body to one of Burlington Beer Co.'s fall seasonal's. The winter squash variety's highlighted in this years batch are acorn, butternut and blue hubbard. Winter squash actually contain more sugar, and I think more flavor than pumpkins. Some smaller heirloom pumpkin varieties do have more flavor and sugar than traditional carving pumpkins (which I suggest you use when brewing a pumpkin ale), but still not the rich flavors of acorn and butternut squash. This beer is based off the squash ale I brewed last year, but with more spices this year.

Brewed with Pale Malt, Munich Malt, and Weyermann Cara ten. Hopped with Super Galena. Just under a pound of cooked squash (24 pounds raw) per gallon. Fermented with American Ale yeast (US-05). Spiced with changing leaves and cooling temperatures.

This beer will be available at Burlington Beer Co.'s Autumn Harvest Tasting Event October 16th. Also available to sample will be a Fresh Hop Ale brewed with Vermont grown hops, Another IPA, and some sour beers and vintage beers.