Saturday, September 24, 2011

Always a Bridesmaid!!!

Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen
I just got a call from the Brew Hut and Dry Dock Brewing in Aurora, Colorado.  I entered our Oktoberfest in their Oktoberfest Only homebrew competition. guessed it....Second!

Second is pretty damn good, considering every beer was exactly the same type and style.  This discounts a preference for a different style of beer.  A second place finish of this type is significant at almost any level.  This means that many agree that this is one damn fine beer.  This is beginning to make me wish that I entered this beer in the National Homebrew Competition last April or May (when I thought the beer was at its best).

Its standing at two back to back competitions also lends itself a nice name....Bridesmaid Oktoberfest.  This is fitting since the festival of Oktoberfest was originally a party to honor the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig to Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen in 1810.  I can imagine Therese throwing back a few steins of our beer to ready herself for her marriage.  She had nine kids and then her husband cheated on her.  The bridesmaids are also always the ones you have a chance with when attending a wedding stag.  If you tried our beer....she was very approachable.

Second place, Runner Up, Alternate...Silver.  As Iceman Says: "The plaque for the Alternate is in the Ladies Room."  Second place isn't such a bad place to be after all.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Runner Up

I am pleased to announce that our Oktoberfest will evermore be known as "Our Award Winning Oktoberfest."  I entered a competition at a small local brewery, The Copper Kettle.  We came in as one of two runners up.  We didn't win, but we were in the top three and our beer was considered for the Best of Show.  The brewery owner's called it a "Killer".

Actually, I didn't expect to win.  Although the beer was very good, it was 8 months old, and I felt it was showing its age.  The testament to the quality and craftmanship of this beer is that perhaps it would have won outright if I could have found an easy competition to enter last May.

Since there were two runners up (and they didn't give me any feedback), at best we were narrowly edged out of the Best in Show in a field of 20 or more entries (it is a small competition).  At worst, we were third of 5 or 10.  Still, we have rarely entered and never placed before, so, I will take it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

$600 worth of Stainless.

I just received two shipments from St. Pats of Texas and Stout Tanks of various stainless steel parts.  Stainless sanitary tri-clamp parts are not cheap.  $600 got us 90% of what we need to standardize our fittings (using 2" tri-clamp parts).  After I ordered (thinking I was buying a few extras) I devised a way to set up the brewery so that we don't have to change hoses out....of course, I need two (at least) extra tees ($27 plus shipping at St. Pats).

My brewery is starting to look like a professional brewery...with any hope, we will brew like one.

Beer update: I have the IPA in the can (who doesn't like it in the can), but have resisted the urge to try it (it probably isn't done carbonating yet), the Wit continues to work its way down to final gravity, and I have finally emptied my commercial keg of Oak Aged Yeti from Great Divide.  I get to return the keg today for $50, which helps pay for my half of the stainless.

My time in the mountains last week was good for me despite the cold I have and the sinus infection my wife got.  I know it is hard to stomach, but my life can't be all beer.

Lastly, I have packaged our last bottles of Oktoberfest for a local brewery's homebrew competition.  I am six months late in doing this, and the beer probably tastes like crap now.  I expect the feedback to be that it is oxidized or some other age related problem....but I will keep you posted.  I am entering this beer without knowing what it tastes like myself.  This is kind of strange.  I am hoping that I can get some constructive criticism outside of the age of the beer....because like all of us, it was awesome when it was in its prime.  I will keep you posted.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Homegrown IPA

I spent a rare Wednesday night bottling our first ever IPA.  Rare as in bottling, rare as in Wednesday. and rare as in IPA (India Pale Ale).  Usually, we relegate brewing activities to weekends, but the weekend was booked  and we really wanted to get the beer into bottles (and kegs).

For those of you following along, I am a malt fan, and not big on really hoppy beers.  For those of you following along and paying attention, however, my tolerance and taste for hops has increased as of late.

September is hop harvesting month, and I picked a bucket's worth (about 4 pounds) and dried them down to about a pound and a half.  I only picked perhaps half of my crop, electing to let the smaller cones grow.  I am only growing Cascade, and only 2 plants.  I am sure I need no more.

My brother's friend came to try out the hobby, and his beer style of choice happens to be IPA....all of this makes it a natural fit.  We brewed an American Style IPA with over a pound of hops for our 12 gallon batch. We also brewed a Belgian Wit.

Again, it was a non-eventful brewday, except that my drill (which I use as the motor for my grain mill) died on batch number 2.  We have gotten to the point where our new equipment and associated processes have become predictable.  This makes for very boring reporting....but our beer is better.

We bottled the IPA today (the Wit will take more time), electing to bottle 5 gallons for my brother's friend, and split the rest into two kegs. I didn't even do the bottling, and I can unequivocally say that I don't miss doing that one bit.  I will stay with kegs, thankyouverymuch!

My observations on my first AIPA is that the hop flavor right out of the fermenter is amazing.  I elected to not dry hop it, so the emphasis on this beer is mostly hop flavor.  A half a pound of my Cascade hops went in half way through the boil and another half pound at flameout.  The beer tastes like grapefruit juice!  I am really looking forward to getting to sample how the hop character changes over time.  So, Skeptical Brewing has IPA on tap....stop on by for a pint.

Oh, and because brewing is predictable, I elected (on a whim) to make another major change to the brewery....oh, joy, I do love trouble.  More later.

Monday, September 5, 2011

summer is over

For the last couple months, I have been doing anything to avoid writing on this blog, and I mean anything.  I just got back from a family camping trip (tents, sleeping bags, campfire, shitting in the woods, etc.) for this Labor Day weekend, I have totally cleaned up everything, did my regular weekend chores, and I am facing a whole new year.  In case you were wondering, I am not on some obscure calendar or anything, but since I live in Denver, I consider the beer calendar to start with Denver Beer Week and the Great American Beer Festival.

This summer has been great.  I have sampled a gazillion beers, visited a few new breweries and some old favorites, and have had some surprising events, and brewed some new beers.  I am hoping that my creativity returns long enough to tell all the stories from the summer, but in actuality, I am looking forward.  

I have a lot of stories to tell, but I really need some feedback.  I know I have a limited readership, and I write mostly for my own pleasure, but I would like to know more about the beer adventures of this readership.  Where should I take this blog?  If you'd like to guest on this blog, (my brother has done this), I welcome content on what you are doing, what you are drinking, and what you are thinking.  So, if you want me to keep writing, make it interesting for both of us so I can take inspiration from you, you can take some inspiration from me, and we can continue this journey together.  Let's get away from my monologue and get down to collaboration.

Since I have a summer of fun to report on, I do have some content to add, but I want to know more about what is happening between your ears and less of what is happening between mine.  I have new adventures scheduled around the GABF, and want to attend the national conference of the American Homebrew Association (how do I sell this to my wife?).

So, drop me a line, and tell me what you want to hear.