AHA Virtual Big Brew

Today, May 7th, officially marks Homebrew Day. Though, the nation.. err, the world, celebrates it annually on the first Saturday in May by taking part in the American Homebrew Association’s (AHA) Big Brew Day. I have been planning and looking forward to this years event for quite some time. The Missouri Association of Serious Homebrewers was even putting together an event for those who may have had some curiosity about homebrewing but wanted to check it out before making a decision. Though, with the current state of the world, The AHA decided to move the event fully “virtual”… With the exception that you actually brewed some beer, of course. I had originally pledged to brew 5 gallons but decided to do 10 in order to cut down on my growing hop supply.

After reviewing the recipes that the AHA released for this years Virtual Big Brew, I stuck to my tried and true Girl Next Door Pale Ale. The hops may change from batch to batch based on my feeling. screenshot_20200507-1054507994481200176202048.png This brewday was a step towards dialing in my process on a new system, so didn’t want to get very complex either.

The base of my pale ale is 70% 2 row, 26% Munich malt, and 4% C-60. Some say the body of this beer is a little too full. Maybe I will cut back on the Munich malt one day but its taken home a ribbon and I like drinking it. I shoot for about 5.3% ABV, make my water adjustments, First Wort Hop with 15 minute or less hops additions and a 15 or so minute whirlpool aiming for around 50 IBU’s +/- depending on the hop varieties. I typically go with the Chico ale yeast in my pale ales, but I wanted to try something different this time. The second batch is getting Denny’s Favorite 50. The hops I used in the first batch were Pink Boots 2019 Blend with Tohoma and the second batch was just a single hop Godiva.. Not the chocolate. I seldomly dry hop but I heard of a new technique that I am interested in trying out. Maybe my next pale ale brew.

I did make a few changes from the normal I just went over, though. I used some specialty malt I had on hand that was not C-60. 2% C-120 in one batch (kept the other two malts the same weight but reduced the amount of of C-60 I would use) & 4% Aromatic Malt in the other if you noticed theimg_20200502_0027546598895675818551061.jpg color difference above. Also, I’m not sure what happened between moving to Germany and coming back to the US, but everyone hates crystal malts now… I don’t get it.

One of the main reasons that I decided to not brew the original recipe, was due to the use Kveik yeast. Moreso than the difficulty of getting the hops that were suggested for the recipe. While I am not against the use of Kveik yeast, I want to give some beers that use it a try first. I understand that we are going through a time of experimentation, but I am not at the forefront. I intended on using HomebrewCon as an opportunity to try out beers made with this yeast and consider if it was worth a shot in my own process before they sadly announced the cancellation. I have heard a lot of good stuff online, and even some brewers I trust have used it, but is the beer being produced actually good or are people just happy with their personal results? I am sure that there is merit to it. History and all, but recommending to ferment it at 100f for 2 days, etc.. is this something that is really good for the beer? Are we just pushing the envelope? Maybe I am just too much of a “traditionalist”. You often see me walk the other way with the OJ being passed off as beer.. but that is a different story.

Back to the normally scheduled program:

I streamed most of my double brewday to my IG Story, which is now saved to my profile. I thought this was the best way to go about having a “Virtual” Big Brew since we could not be all together. I even went ahead and participated in the toast at the appropriate tiimg_20200502_0901169105215248805652095.jpgme that the AHA leads. Overall, I think it was a fine event… the best we can do anyway. I went through the socials and checked out the different systems and processes people were using. I just got an electric system myself, but it was crazy how may electric systems I saw on this day. Back in 2009 I did not even know this was an option. As time went on, I started seeing them made more and more but they all looked complex and expensive. I bought the Anvil Foundry based on cost and reviews from those all around. Plus it is a lot lighter and more compact in my old age and small apartment vs the 3 Keggle HERMS. Very happy with my first brewday results. Now just to monitor these beers until I get them in the kegs. They are already looking good to be honest, but I think I need to recalibrate my Tilt hydrometers as both those SG’s are considerably lower than calculated.

Cheers!

AHA Virtual Big Brew

The (Quarantine Edition) Session: Where Are You At?

This is post is in response to The Session topic presented by Fuggled.

As the days draw on, I sit here wondering how the rest of the year is going to shape up. My day to day life has not made a drastic change. I am both more and less busy while having an increase in working hours. Catching up on podcast during my commute on a completely clear highway is going to be one of the most missed aspects of our time moving through the unknown.

TheSessionLike many others I look forward to the little things, even though I terminated many plans before official notices of cancellation. These times slightly reminds me of undergrad; school, work, sleep, beer in an ongoing cycle. Back in those days I did not do half the travel that I plan in even half the year. Finding a balance between the preparation required in order to raise my BJCP rank, completing coursework for online courses that were never developed to be online, and doing what I can to help keep my local with a flow of income has definitely been an interesting tug and pull. For about a month now, I would buy a case of beer every Friday. It would not all be consumed within that week, but it did start piling up to the point where I would run out of space if I did not slightly increase my consumption in some way.

Besides grilling and drinking a touch more, I decided to use a bit of the beer to make soap. And just like everyone else I’ve tried my hand at sourdough, got a batch of sauerkraut going, restarted my kombucha habit, started taking part in Malört o’clock, began constructing a whiskey Infinity Bottle, and bought an electric brewing system. Out with the HERMS and in with the Foundry; I guess this is where I am at.

Before we all crossed through into a life that slightly reminds me of Dark Angel, I was at the brewery often enough for most the staff to know me but not enough to have my own seat at the bar. When I stop by for curbside pick up, it is nice to see some familiar faces. People that I may only spend a few hours with a month, but the faces that always bring me a smile.. img_20200421_2017035629377904366711920.jpgalong with a delicious pint.

I miss the Public House Brewers Stash beers that I would stop in for each release.

I am kind of bummed that I will not be able to participate in the AHA Big Brew Day with the members of The Missouri Association of Serious Homebrewers.

I am finally getting around to some of the education projects that I have been planning but made no movement on.

I guess this means I have been making some use of my evening and weekend hours but maybe I can take a week to sit back relax when all of this is over.

Cheers!

The (Quarantine Edition) Session: Where Are You At?

NC Brewers Cup

This past weekend was the North Carolina Brewers Cup. It is an amazing sight seeing a number of NC breweries post the results of their beers that were entered into the competition. It was also very nice to taste a good number of them; some for the first time ever. Drinking these beers blind gave a real nice perspective of the work being done to further brewing in one of the fastest growing states. View All The Winners Here.

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The first day of the competition was all of the homebrew entries. The NC Brewers Guild hosted this competition in conjunction/for? The NC State Fair which is taking place in Raleigh really soon. I was hoping to get off easy, but I opened the day judging IPA’s. Not that there is anything wrong with that, and the homebrewers did a really great job with them but I believe my judging partner and I went through approximately 13 IPA’s before I moved on to do the Mini-Best Of Show with the other group helping out with this category… which was a total of 6 beers competing for the top 3 spots. I guess I was rewarded for my efforts, though. The next flight I did, which was relatively small, was Light Lagers. What some would call the complete opposite of an IPA.

During the afternoon session of, Belgian and French Ales. Another relatively large flight but another great showing. The category was mostly Saisons but there was also a Biere de Garde. You just don’t see that often and it got me really excited. When it was all said and done, the winner went on to sit at the Best Of Show table, where I would soon be reunited with it.

As one would expect, when it came down to judging Best Of Show, it was relatively hard. There were a few that had to be knocked out over the most trivial things. Only the best beers made it this far and homebrewers have gotten far better over the past few years so you couldn’t just kick out something that had a major flaw but happened to be best in the category. When it was all said and done, a Belgian Dark Strong Ale, a Schwarz Bier, and an American Pale Ale were the best to style, top brewed beers at the table. Though all of the entrants who made it to that table should be proud of the beer they produced.

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After day 1 came to a close, we all left to get ourselves in the right mindset to judge the entries of the commercial contest the next day. I met up with Bryan and we decided to stop into FullSteam to check out their anniversary shenanigans.

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The next morning I crawled out of bed not knowing which way is up. I guess checking out Miley Cyrus on SNL when I had to be up around 7am may not have been the best choice… oh, and the stout to keep me up during her performance. I grabbed a quick breakfast with MUCH COFFEE INCLUDED and headed back to Mystery Brewing, who was our host both days of the competition. I was really excited when I saw the morning table assignments; Pilsners. Which sadly, I do not remember very many NC brewed Pilsners I have had before this day.

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While judging through the entries, I realized how big of a mistake this was. There were many great Pilsners that after it was all said and done, I realized were available year round from some of the best breweries in the state. I guess I have some catching up to do. The quality and accuracy to style some of these beers had was indescribable. A very eye opening experience. What was next to follow, though… I thought I was already free from this pleasure.

The afternoon session was IPA’s… just like the start of my day hardly just 24 hours ago. And there were 48 entries from breweries around the state. The homebrew numbers were barely half of that. There were a few extra sets of judges, but that didn’t help much at all coming down to the Mini-Best Of Show.

Looking at the 9 beers in front of us, they all seemed identical in appearance. Several of the beers seemed to use nearly identical recipes. I mean, I don’t know what was in them but the flavor and aroma were so similar that I thought my palate and nose were just broken. The top 3, again, were very difficult to come across. They were the best of the best… and again… we go into Best Of Show.

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I thought judging Best Of Show for homebrew was difficult. I’ve done it a few times since I received my BJCP rank. But nothing could have prepared me for this. This was not only my very first time judging commercial beer in a competition. But my first time doing Best Of Show in one as well…  Talk about trying to find the best diamond in a sea of them… It came down to the smallest details about each beer. 23 set down in front of us and 3 selected as the best in NC. The pressure was really on.

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The results are linked above but these 3 beers, from 3rd to 1st, are the ones who went above and beyond this year. Also, that Pilsner that I was really embarrassed I never drank… and is available year round, from one of my favorite NC breweries… umm… yeah… I should probably head to the store. Take a look at the list and drink some of the greatest beers NC has to offer.

EDIT: Information from the press release.
We had a record number of entries in both homebrewer (191) and commercial (362) categories. We couldn’t have done it without your hard work and support!
You can find all the results here: www.ncbeer.org/brewerscup/ and a press release is attached. The top winners will be on display October 15-25 at the State Fair in the Education Building.

Cheers!

NC Brewers Cup

Homebrew Advent Calendar: Day 2

Today we step into a new world! Completely different from the last and I am very much looking forward to it. A Gingerbread Stout. I had one before at White Street Brewing that was fantastic. Real quick, here are some notes from the brewer.

With the weather about to get cooler I was in the mood to try my hands at a Gingerbread Stout. The goal was to end up with a sweet stout, that had a full mouth feel and could provide a little warmth.

The recipe looks pretty involved, so I wonder how that will play out. Some basic stats about this beer,

Brew date: 9/22/2013 Kegged: 10/27/2013 OG 1.088 FG 1.032 ABV 7.38%

Lets get to the tasting!

So I may have been in the real of, I was not really paying attention/I didn’t care because it’s Quad Day and I poured it a little overly aggressive. My bad. I got a lot of sweet character on the nose that I am attributing to the lactose in this Sweet Stout. No hops, esters, or anything crazy but there was one aromatic that stood out above all else… Ginger!

Let me just say, I LOVE GINGER! So that did not bother me at all. I love how aggressive it was. Whether that was the brewers intention or not, fantastic move. I hate when a beer advertises a specific ingredient and you cannot find it at all. Even something as simple as “Bourbon Barrel Aged”.

As you can see from the photo, the big fluffy tan head and the beer poured quite clear and deep brown. The first sensation you get while drinking this one is the ginger that is cut by a very roasty/bitter character. Sweet initially but then dries out and finishes slightly astringent, but I would say appropriately so. Creamy full body, perfect carbonation. A little chocolate malt characteristic in there as well. A nice warming character to round it all out.

I love this beer and glad it made the calendar. Might have been better on a cooler night, but the Advent Calendar Gods decided this would be the day.

Cheers!

Homebrew Advent Calendar: Day 2

Homebrew Advent Calendar: Day 1

Everyone that has heard me speak of The Homebrew Advent Calendar has been asking all sorts of questions even before I knew all the answers. The easiest thing I have found to tell them is, “Well, it is kind of like a chocolate advent calendar… kind of like my 12 Days Of Beermas, but this time with 24 (actually 25) beers, and instead of them all being commercial(again, like Beermas), they are all Homebrews!

Now, how might this work? Do I really have to brew 24 different beers to be able to enjoy one a day until Christmas? The beauty of this calendar, set up by Bull City Homebrew, is that I only had to contribute 1 beer to the calendar… well, 24 beers but you know what I mean. Totally takes out a lot of the work. Now that we have finally reached December 1st, it is time to enjoy the beers.

One thing I failed to mention, just like a true advent calendar, you do not know what you are going to get until you open up the door/bottle. Keeps you on your feet and it is a big surprise. More fun than blind pickups at the store. The guys at Bull City gave us two options of how to access the beer information. Everyday there is a thread posted to the forum we are using for the organization of this calendar. The thread contains all the information about the beer we are to be drinking on said day. The part that is up to you, do you want to read the description first? Or do you want to drink the beer first? Which did I choose? Well, it is easier to writ these post while looking at the description and tasting the beer. So that is the route I went.

The first beer is a Belgian Special Ale… Not my beer and not really sure what exactly that is, but I attributed it to the Belgian Pale Ale category. ~Shrugs~ The beer started around 1.060, finished 1.010 6.7%abv, used Wyeast 1214 which is a Belgian Abbey yeast and it had a fairly simple base recipe with only bittering hop additions. Notes from the brewer: The yeast should shine through with a nice red color and decent body for a winter version of a beer I’ve tried before.

Lets Dive In!!!

Right as I opened up this bottle esters filled the room. It had a very big banana aroma. There was a slight phenolic presence but it was very light and hard to come by. You could also pull out a light beady character but not much at all. No hop aroma as well. I thought the aroma was pretty one dimensional but, again, BIG! A short lived, creamy, very small white head formed on top but it dissipated just as fast as it came and a hazy copper color is what presented itself in front of me.

The very first, and most prevalent taste throughout the beer was a yeasty character. I don’t mean like yeast flavors, I mean a big yeasty taste. Past that you get a slight toast in the background, no hop flavor, a bit on the maltier side of the spectrum, light phenols, and a bunch of banana esters. Working with the toasted flavors it was kind of like banana bread. I enjoyed that because I enjoy banana bread and also Wells Banana Bread. I thought I caught some light citrus flavors toward the finish but nothing distinguishable as the hop bitterness began to show its way through.

A slick, oily mouthfeel, very low carbonation level, a medium body with a dry finish but it proceeded to seem a bit astringent. Slight warmth in the finish as well, but at a very low level.

Overall, I thought there were some pretty strong characteristics that detracted from the overall experience of this beer, but it was not a bad beer to start the calendar out on. I thought the flavors seemed pretty one dimensional. The banana and bready characters is what stuck out the most, other than the yeast characteristic that held overhead. The astringency in the finish was also something that detracted from the overall experience.

I suggested, as well as a few others, to the brewer that he pitch a higher concentration of yeast/make a starter when brewing this again and maybe take another look at the base of the recipe. I am not sure much about the recipe, i.e. fermentation temperature, mash temp, etc, etc, but these are also issues that can possibly be looked at for various reasons in the recipe.

Anyway, Day 1 is down! 23/24 more to go! I wonder what else is in store!

Cheers!

Homebrew Advent Calendar: Day 1

Learn To Homebrew Day

So, as we all know, or should know, The American Homebrewers Association’s Learn To Homebrew day was November 2nd this year, 2013. People all over the country had set up events or even just something as simple as inviting their friends over for a lesson. Breweries, homebrew shops, etc etc etc. Just who ever wanted to share the love of homebrew.

For those of you who were not able to go out or had no events in your area, this year The Craft Beer Nation set up a hangout to briefly talk about homebrewing, the ingredients, and things you might need to get started. You can watch that video here. The Beer Fairy – Ashley, and I showed up to talk about all that. I hope we answered most basic questions but if you are watching you and you have further question, feel free to ask here, Twitter, or on Google+.

For Learn To Homebrew Day I figured I would make a new beer for Christmas. One I have been wanting to do and trying to figure out for a few years. Eggnog is one of my favorite drinks and I am disappointed that without making it yourself you can only get it at one time of the year. So, hopefully, finally I am able to get this Eggnog Milk Stout to work. The only way I thought to accomplish it was to use Lactose, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, and Vanilla Bean… maybe I will add some Vanilla when I keg it. I guess it depends the character I want/get.

The brewday went off without a hitch. Honestly, a very simple brew. One hop addition for bittering, simple mash, and a 60 minute boil. I considered doing it for 90 minutes but I didn’t. I came in a few points low but that could be because I was aiming for 1.088 I think… I’d have to look at my notes instead of thinking off the top of my head. I added all my spices and lactose at the 5 minute remaining mark because it was suggested to me that any earlier and I would lose the aromatic quality of my spices. Not what I want to do at all!

So yea, once it ferments out I will take my first sips and report back how it taste. I hope I hit the mark and can finally have another form of eggnog!

Cheers!

Learn To Homebrew Day

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp

So, once again it is that time of year where Sierra Nevada has opened up their Beer Camp contest and released a 12 pack of some of their favorite beers. Actually, I have no idea how they select what beers go into the packs. The first year, they were all random numbers… and I think the same as last year. This year Batch #93, 94, & 95 are in the mixer. I will post my thoughts on those beers really soon… and it gives me more opportunities to plug this post.

Why do I want to plug this post? Well, I am need your votes! The more votes I get, the higher my odds of going to Beer Camp are. The title of my video is, “The Best Beer In The World“, which is kind of a parody of Tribute from Tenacious D. Basically it follows me as I am to bring a demon The Best Beer In The World. You can check out the video over at the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp site. You are allowed to vote once a day between now and September 30th now that my video is live!!! Please help 😀 and have your friends help… and their friends help… and maybe their bosses… but hey, that might be pushing it.

There are some things I wish I could have done differently, but for only 10 minutes of shooting and then cutting this video together in order to get it submitted 3 days past opening, hey… It is done and submitted!!! More time for votes! I’m off to a decent start already, but those that were submitted at the very beginning already have over 100 votes, so I need to catch up and maintain it for almost 2 months… This could be tricky as new submissions roll in… but it will be worth it. And it was a very fun video to shoot. Anyway, I am sure you will hear more details about this later. For now, Enjoy my video, Enjoy some good beer, and Thank You For Your Votes!!!!

Cheers!

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp

Mead Making

I have been wanting to do this for a while. I have had the honey and everything just sitting there… I don’t know what was really keeping me. No excuses but hey, I finally jumped on it and started to make it!

Not really exciting I know, but here is a bowl full of honey. I decided to make three different kinds of Mead. Nothing special just a few standard recipes. A dry, a semi-sweet, and a hydromel semi-sweet… whatever that mean? I discovered that this is a bit easier than I first believed. I mean, I am not brewing for a competition or anything, just for my own enjoyment and to further the limits of my essentially limitless hobby. I am sure things get a bit more difficult with specific plans in mind or when trying to perfect a recipe for judging, but for me… right now, nah.

They are all 1 gallon batches and in the first one after I was chilling the must? Whatever it is you call the mixture of honey and water… I should probably learn this terminology… I walked away for a minute to check on further directions. I left the water running since I was creating an ice bath like mixture… I guess my kettle thought it would be a good idea to start floating and it ended up getting a bit of water inside the kettle. I decided to boil it down to the volume I wanted. No idea how this will effect the mead but hey, at least I messed up early and not when it mattered.

I did not use any Mead yeast, just some champagne yeast that I picked up along with some nutrients. I decided to use two different kinds of yeast because the last recipe was exactly the same besides the yeast decision. Rehydrated as I would for beer and pitched. Very simple right?

I got all of it into the carboys and into my fermentation chamber. I was instructed to release excess CO2 every other day or so… While I have not been very on my game when it came to that, I did it two day after I pitched the yeast…

Funny story, eh, I just picked up the jugs and swirled them around. The first two went without flaw. Perfect, airlock just bubbled and I moved on…

Did I mention I did this on my lunch break?

The third one I used the exact same swirl method, the one that had the green yeast packet in it, and BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!! All over me! All over the ceiling!! All over the room!!! I guess maybe I should have known better but oh, well. I went back to work smelling like straight alcohol. No one noticed… or said anything to me but I did feel quite sticky. Not to mention that I had to mop the ceiling! I went my whole brewing career without having to do that. Damn…

I will post back with tasting notes, etc, but I have no idea how long I am going to keep in the fermentation vessels before bottling. Only time will tell.

Cheers!

Mead Making

Hop Watch

It has been a while since I planted my hops, so I figured I would show a few little updates. Especially since the hops are starting to get a little bit of cone formation!!! Here is a look back to when I planted my Chinook and Cluster Rhizomes to begin with.

So exciting seeing the first sprouts!

My Chinook before I figured it would be a good time to add my trellis lines.

Had to train them up to begin but they started to take off pretty damn well!

Chinook in front, Cluster in back.

Look how fantastic the Chinook is doing! and how wimpy the Cluster is doing 😥 I hope that it is strong enough to survive the winter… More pictures to come soon!

Cheers!

Hop Watch

International Homebrew Project 2013

Oh, The International Homebrew Project 2013… I have been looking forward to doing this as soon as I heard about it. Especially since I missed out on a few years in the past. I thought that this year was even more perfect due to the fact that I have always wanted to brew a Burton ale… well, at least in current history and that is what was on tap for this years IHP.

The recipe was pretty simple, which lead me to believe that this would be a very simple brewday… sometimes I should just shut my big mouth when these things are going down. It honestly started great, but as time when on, oh, as time went on.

I have been wanting to make the move from pellet hops to leaf hops and since I found a good deal on Cluster, and I needed a ton of it, I picked it up and decided this would be my first step toward that switch.

There is nothing wrong with Pellet Hops, I have used them ever since I started brewing in 2009. I just love the look, feel, and smell of Leaf Hops. That was essentially what made this decision for me.

At first, I was just going to throw the hops in there without any kind of filter. When I first started brewing I used cheese cloth to contain my pellet hops but after time found it was unnecessary and just threw them directly into the kettle. I was told time and time again that this was a bad idea for this batch and I was going to ignore that advice but I had some cheese cloth lying around from way back when, so I decided to use it.

But anyway, maybe I should take a few steps back since there were some issues with this brewday. The Mash. Pretty simple and straight forward for this beer, but sometimes even that could go wrong. This was what I saw after I mashed in and everything seemed to be going so smooth, yeah, so smooth.

When I went to collect my runnings, the drainage tube immediately filled up with grains. I had no idea what was going on but I had my suspicions being this has happened to me before… and I was right. My hose braid came loose.

And that is not where my issues decided to end. After I got the boil rolling, I went inside and who knows what the hell I did… probably got on twitter, but who knows. I go back out to check on it and the boil has significantly slowed… I tried to turn up to heat to get it going faster and nothing… The flame decided to die out. I grabbed my other tank and then remembered, “Crap! I did not refill this one either!!!”… So now, I was faced with having no idea how to restart the boil and account for the time being I had already done my first hop addition…

Total fail to this point… and it sucks even more. With everything that has been going on recently, I ended up failing at completing the task… The beer is brewed, fermented out and everything but I have just been able to find the time to bottle it, keg it, or taste it… Still sitting in the fermenter… Though, this weekend may be the one. I should actually have time to brew and bottle up the remainder of one of my kegs and throw this one in there… and then I won’t be able to touch anything until I get home in June… Woooo for out of state job training…

I will drop updates for this soon. I will probably do tasting notes of the post fermented beer tomorrow and add them here. Kind of missed the point of IHP but I really could not do anything about it…

Cheers!

International Homebrew Project 2013