With 2018 just hours away, I wanted to reserve some time to reflect on the incredible year that 2017 was for Third Leap Brewing & Blending.
This year was highlighted by my relocation from Massachusetts to Idaho. The move physically impacted our homebrewery in many ways – from ceasing brewing operations for several months to temporarily relegating our 10-gallon e-brewery to the garage. And the move mentally impacted our homebrewery as well, by stealing back time to refocus on the important aspects of Third Leap Brewing & Blending. This reflection manifested itself in many ways, namely in our perpetual Massachusetts foraged yeast project (Evolution Series) and Idaho’s first modern spontaneous beer (LambID)!
Another byproduct of our refocus was the Third Leap Manifesto, a careful collection of 15 sentences that embody the values we live and work toward as a homebrewery. It has been a work-in-progress for the last several years, morphing from a simple motto to mission statement to eventual manifesto – and I honestly could not be happier with the end result! It truly represents the synergy of our guiding principles; ambient microflora, terroir, farm-to-table, zero-mile beer, and slow beer.
Our craving for knowledge was at its peak in 2017 and that culminated in the launch of SpontaneousBeer.com (SB), a dynamic and digital repository for American spontaneous beer production. My goal with SB was to share my personal research on new world spontaneous brewing techniques with the entire world! Only two thoroughly detailed articles (Allagash Brewing Company and Jester King Brewery) were launched before it caught the eye of Dan Pixley from Milk The Funk (MTF). After some careful thought and consideration, I decided to forgo the independent SB initiative and instead share my research within the massive MTF wiki and community.
This past year also marked an important milestone for Third Leap – our first homebrewery collaboration beer! In June we visited our goods friends Mike and Tom of Cold Spring Brewing in Belchertown, Massachusetts to brew on their brand new, three vessel, semi-automated electric brewery. The recipe was built around my Massachusetts foraged yeast, drew recipe inspiration from Farm Bière, and was ultimately soured with my house mixed culture. Cold Spring plans to aged the collaboration beer for approximately nine months before adding a series of fruit purees in one gallon carboys. Keep an eye out for a tasting recap post in late 2018!
Last, but certainly not least, was our introduction to Mecca Grade Estate Malt. We discovered Mecca Grade by chance (via Instagram’s Explore Page) but quickly realized it was a match made in heaven for Third Leap! Mecca Grade is an estate malthouse located in the Central Oregon High Desert. Their eighth generation farming family grows and malts over a half dozen specialty grains for brewing (fortunately every grain we need for our recipes). In November, we transitioned to brewing exclusively with Mecca Grade malts – the first major step toward living the words from our manifesto!
Third Leap Beers Tasted
A lot of beer was consumed in 2017, especially homebrew! Despite not every beer receiving a proper tasting recap, below are highlights from each and every Third Leap homebrew consumed (for the first time) in 2017. For those that sound unfamiliar, you can expect to see a tasting blog post in the coming weeks and/or months.
- Saison du Spelt – An inspired, old-world saison brewed with raw spelt berries featuring notes of fresh cut roses, green apple skin, lemon, and cracker. One of my favorite beers of 2017!
- Evolution #2 – A farmhouse stout fermented with third generation foraged yeast featuring chocolate milk powder, hot cocoa froth, cold brewed coffee, and burnt cookie
- Evolution #3 – A saison fermented with fourth generation foraged yeast featuring notes of citrus, white grape juice, green apple, and banana
- Evolution #4 – An inspired old world saison brewed with rye and fermented with fifth generation foraged yeast featuring notes of pepper, banana, lemonade, and pear.
- Evolution #5 – An inspired old world saison brewed with raw buckwheat and fermented with sixth generation foraged yeast featuring notes of brown sugar, sweet cherry, earth, and dark chocolate
- Farm Bière – A saison inspired by Jolly Pumpkin Bam Bière featuring notes of Brettanomyces, stone fruit, pomme fruit, and bread crust. One of my favorite beers of 2017!
- Hollambic #1 – A Massachusetts spontaneous ale inspired by Russian River Beatification featuring notes of fresh-cut hay, aged hops, and apple cider
- Hollambic #2 – A Massachusetts spontaneous ale inspired by Cantillon Classic Gueuze featuring notes of cheesy hops, apple skin, and lemon rind
- Spontaneous Blanc – A Massachusetts white spontaneous ale featuring notes of green apple, white wine, and stone fruit
- Spontaneous Rouge – A Massachusetts amber spontaneous ale featuring notes of cheesy hops, cherry pie, and apple cider
- Back East NEIPA – A Citra-hopped New England IPA fermented with Bootleg Biology Chardonnay yeast featuring notes of mango, orange, and peach. One of my favorite beers of 2017!
Third Leap Beers Brewed
Quite a bit of beer was brewed in 2017 too! Some of this year’s batches were already listed above (as beers we tasted), so they are omitted below. In total, we brewed 10 batches of beer in 2017 – despite moving across the country and being relegated to our one-gallon stove top pilot system for most of the year.
- Hollambic #3 – A Massachusetts spontaneous ale inspired by American Solera Western Culture
- Hollambic #4 – A Massachusetts spontaneous ale brewed using dried malt extract and maltodextrin
- LambID #1 – An Idaho spontaneous ale inspired by the Méthode Traditionnelle standards
- LambID #2 – An Idaho spontaneous ale inspired by de Garde Bu Weisse
- Evolution #6 – An inspired, old world grisette fermented with seventh generation foraged yeast
- Evolution #7 – A saison brewed using Mecca Grade Pelton (pilsner-style) malt and eighth generation foraged yeast
- Cold Spring Collaboration #1 – A sour saison brewed in collaboration with Cold Spring Brewing and fermented with foraged yeast and house microflora
- Pacific Seawater Gose – A gose-style beer brewed using Bootleg Biology Sour Weapon P and Oregon seawater
Besides homebrew news, I thought it may be interesting to share some blog statistics from this past year. 2017 was our first full year of blogging and despite posting half as often as 2016, we attracted almost twice as many visitors!
Here are some site stats (through December 29) that I found quite interesting:
- 15 posts published (including this one)
- 4,827 views from 2,187 visitors (2.20 views per visitor)
- Facebook was the largest referrer (829 views) – Thanks MTF Facebook Group!
- Spontaneous Beer: Allagash Brewing Company was the most popular post (600 views)
- United States (60%) and Canada (10%) lead all countries in views
- May was our busiest visitor month (40 views per day)
- Wednesday is our most popular visitor day (22% of views)
- 4:00 PM is our most popular visitor hour (10% of views)
- 8 comments graced ThirdLeapBrew.com in 2017
Using the information above, I intend to shift some blogging focus to help cement Third Leap as a go-to homebrew website in 2018! First, based on the popularity of research-driven and technical-minded posts in 2017 (Spontaneous Beer: Allagash Brewing Company, What Is Step Mashing? Reviving a Forgotten Technique, and Brewing With Raw Spelt (Saison du Spelt)), I plan to add more of this type of content to the website next year. In fact, I plan to add more content in general, aiming for at least an average of two posts per month.
ThirdLeapBrew Instagram Statistics
In addition to blog statistics, I found Instagram statistics were also interesting enough to share. 2017 was one of our busiest social media years ever and we look forward to even more engagement in 2018!
Through December 29, the Third Leap Instagram stats were:
- 225 followers
- 955 likes on 45 posts (21 likes per post)
- Top 5 Posts
- “All the raspberries for our Six Row Grisette” with 84 likes
- “Our first Idaho spontaneous ale, LambID #1 . . .” with 59 likes
- “Introducing Third Leap Evolution #4 – Saison du Rye . . .” with 57 likes
- “. . . Pacific Seawater Gose, our second Gose-style beer brewed with sea water . . .” with 51 likes
- “The first pull of turbid wort from LambID #1 . . .” with 38 likes
We hope to up social media engagement with some free giveaways (stickers, merchandise, and beer) and more posts (at least 3 per week in 2018)!
2017 was incredible in so many ways and I cannot wait to see what 2018 has in store for Third Leap Brewing & Blending. Thanks for following along!