Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Unique and Awesome Farm-Friendly Gifts! (including Beer!)

We have a long tradition of hand-making most of our gifts for the holiday season, and this year will be no exception. We like long dark evenings in front of the wood stove, project supplies scattered about and music or a movie playing. We've made all kinds of things, and usually include some kind of edible treat- home canned pickles, applesauce, etc. Last year, our wedding pictures served as a gift for those who were there, and we hand-made picture frames from all of the farm's gorgeous scenery- wooden frames adorned with sealed acorns etc. We haven't quite picked what this year's gift will be, but we're thinking it's going to involve these beauties...

Tanned rabbit hides! We've been tanning the hides from our rabbit operation for a while, and have quite the store, in a variety of colors. They're soft, warm, pliable, and just waiting for the right project. Mittens? Hat? boot liners?

I mentioned we have quite the store... And that's the truth! So if these are inspiring you, we're happy to sell you a few for your home projects. You can be assured that they come from our very own ethically raised rabbits and are tanned with care. We have a few that are well over a year old and holding up just perfectly. We'll sell them at $10/each (if you want more than 5, we probably could cut that price a bit) and ship anywhere (we can give you a price quote for that). Send us an email if you'd like some! reisenshinefarm@gmail.com 

If crafting isn't your thing, we've come across this other really cool opportunity... our friend James (who we met when he bought 1/2 a lamb a few months ago) is promoting his own beer tasting club! He invited us over a few weeks ago for a sampling (and some delicious pizza too!) and damn... that beer is awesome. It's such good beer in fact, that we're helping him out by offering to bring along his tasting packs to our delivery in Albany. If your looking for a great gift for a micro-brew lover, or just are a libations enthusiast- it's a pretty great opportunity. We recently asked James some questions so y'all could get to know him more, and hear about his journey into brewing. 

How did you get into brewing?

I guess it all harkens back to my days at art school (and some how my grandmother has an indirect influence on how I got here.) Where I believe my meticulous, curious, obsessive nature was allowed to blossom to its awkward introverted fullest. Time passes and many projects later, I develop a taste for, of all things, beer! Being of the right age where I got to be a witness to the burgeoning craft brew industry.  As well as the idea that you could make this stuff at home. I kicked around the idea in my head for a few years. Oh yea, did I mention that I’m amazing at procrastination? Then one day I was walking down a small street in Brooklyn and we come upon 10 6 gallon glass carboys in the trash. What a find! My friend and I drag back 2 to his apartment and start figuring out how we can make kick ass beer!
Many months later (remember I’m meticulous and obsessive so I needed to know everything to make the perfect beer)...we made the worst tasting beer ever or maybe the best tasting bottle of aspirin flavored water ever!?

So post asiprin-beer- how did the game plan change?

There began a couple years of study and many bad batches of beer. With just enough good batches to keep me from getting completely discouraged. Keep me motivated. Of course making beer begets drinking and I started to think about how different styles of beer are made. For example, what’s a Quad or Gose? All of this was fuel for the meticulous, curious, obsessive beast inside. 

Er, so.. enlighten us as less obsessed beer enthusiasts on what you are talking about?

Well specifically a Quad is a Trappist style that’s dark and strong--around 11-13% ABV. They are dark in color, though not roasty like a stout more fruity with notes of apricot, plum and raisin. Plus there are all the peppery esters common in a Belgian style beer.
Gose, pronounced go-say, is an almost extinct German style, that relies on a water profile that’s a bit salty to give the beer a sour brine aftertaste. I had one when I was in Berlin one time and it was much more refreshing than it may sound. On second thought I shouldn't say extinct, rare is probably a better term. I did see one on a menu in a bar in Brooklyn. According to a friend, small American craft breweries are trying to resurrect the style.

Ok, so was there a turning point?

Sooner than later I find I make fantastic beer! I probably started making good beer before I thought it myself. Anywho, to make a long story short-- I started bringing beer I made to parties. I discovered another friend of mine who was a secret brewer and we started throwing parties to share our beers with friends and others.
But, what ended up happening was that after more than a couple parties we would find a lot of our beers opened half full with tons of cigarette butts in them. We both felt frustrated and angered by this. Our friends meant no real disrespect but, we put a lot of effort and care into making those beers!

We know this feeling, we always try to give tips to use EVERY part of the things we grow! So now you have great beer, and you needed an audience?

We hatched plan. We would start a tasting club! My friend had some other plans first though, he had to WOOOF across one continent. Then bike across another and he would be ready to do it. I waited 8 months then said screw it and started organizing. That was 4 years ago and the club is going strong. I’ve moved from Brooklyn and am lookin’ to start another club up here in the upper Hudson Valley/Capital region.

Lucky us! How does it work?

How it works is each month I cook up 3 different brews and bring them to a pick up spot. You get them and drink them. The beers come with a small booklet that will give you some info on the beers you’ll be drinking and some space for tasting notes. This happens 6 times from December to May. If you would like to be a part of the club shoot me an email at jharvard219@gmail.com for further details and cost!

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