Wednesday, February 27, 2013

More on the National Homebrew Competition

The American Homebrew Association (AHA) forum has been all abuzz about the issues regarding the registration for the National Homebrew Competition.  For those of you who are unaffilliated, the AHA yearly holds a two round national competition that is limited to approximately 8,200 beers.  Their limit this year is 15 beers per participant.  Unfortunately, from prior events and year's past, all homebrewers concerned with getting into the competition know that it will sell out, and almost everybody and their brother (not mine) logged into the system at 1pm Mountain to register.

Some got in, most did not.  I am one of the disappointed many.  I had intended to enter 3 beers, but as luck would have it, I also found out that our windowell Oktoberfest beer did not ferment (it stuck at 1.058).  So, at best we would have put in two beers between my brother and I.

Just as well.  While my brother is looking to get the ferment going at a more reasonable inside/basement temperature with a fresh pitch of yeast, I am starting to think about brewing again.

And besides, I now have room in my kegerator.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Trouble On Both Ends of the Spectrum

It appears that AB In-Bev (or whatever they are calling themselves after they swallow up the rest of Modelo) is being sued for defrauding their customers out of alcohol content and watering down their product.  You can read about it here.

If true, this is pretty sad.  I recently read the book "Bitter Brew" by William Knoedelseder that chronicoled the history of Anheuser-Busch and the Busch family exploits from about the end of prohibition to the end of the family running the business.  Their forefathers were very concerned with quality and tradition while expanding to the biggest and most outlandish beer company ever.  Gussie Busch is rolling in his grave.

I do wonder, however, if the common practice for modern industrialized breweries of brewing at a higher gravity and then diluting down to package strength is being highlighted.  It is just a way to get more final capacity out of your ferementers.

Too bad.  I was kind of a fan of regular Bud when there isn't any other decent choice (or it is extremely hot).  I try to stay away from any of the big breweries big name brands just on principle however....but I do cop to an occasional PBR.

On the other end of the spectrum, there is trouble brewing at the American Homebrewer's Association as well.  For the 4th or 5th consecutive event in the last year, they have had public relations problems associated with their on-line registrations.  Today it was the registration for the National Homebrew Competition.  I tried at 1:05pm to register, and got as far as entering my info, before it kicked me out.  I had to do it on my smart phone because my work's computer isn't upgraded to the latest version of Internet Explorer that the AHA required to register (strike 1 for my employer, my crappy work computer, and shame on the AHA).  It wouldn't have mattered anyway, because my work blocked my access to the site anyway (strike 2 for work).  The registration site wasn't optimized for mobile so I had to zoom in and out to read what I was trying to do (strike 2 for AHA), and then I couldn't register my beers (I intended to put in 3 beers....strike 3.

I guess they had to shut the whole thing down, but I am told most of the competition is sold out.  If true, I have been shut out of the NH Comp, didn't get a discounted room for the 2012 NH Conference, shut out of the member's only session of the GABF, and was shut out of the 2011 NH Conference in Seattle.  Apparently, they are victems of their own success.

I am trying to be part of the solutions....I am trying to become a qualified beer judge, I have volunteered at the 2011 and 2012 GABF and National Homebrew Competition Qualifier as a steward, and intend to do it again in 2013 (maybe as a judge if they want me).  All I ask for is a hassle free experience.  I still think they need to restrict entry to one beer per person (the limit this year was set at 15), eliminate the Ninkaski Award (to the most medaled homebrewer in the comp), bump up the cost per beer entry, and/or institute a lottery system for entries.

Furthermore, perhaps they need 2 members only sessions at the GABF (while adding a fourth day overall).  I guess next step is to try to get on the AHA governing committee.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Next Move

I have been obsessing over our latest Oktoberfest from afar.  It has been quietly sitting in my brother's basement windowell for nearly 3 weeks.  And in all that time my brother hasn't observed any sign of fermentation from the blow off tube.  That is not to say it isn't happily (albeit slowly) fermenting away in its dark, sugar rich is just that I can't see it.  The switch to a closed keg fermentation from two carboys makes the process much safer and involves less to clean, but it doesn't give a nice view of the action.  Couple that with the fact that the yeast pack wasn't fully raging when we pitched (and the yeast themselves were 4 months old), and it has me way beyond curious to the point of neurotic.

If it was at my house, I am pretty certain that I would have stuck my nose in it to see what I could.  But it is probably just as well that it is living with a far more patient person in my brother.

At any rate, in the next few days he will bring it inside and warm it up.  We should see some signs of life then.  If we don't, well, then we have a problem.

If we killed it somehow, we can always re-brew isn't like we have financial or some other skin in the game.  I just act like it.

Anyway, my kitchen remodel is almost done, and except for paying for it, I should be able to start worrying about brewing again.

Friday, February 1, 2013

wanted: Job.

I attended the open house for Dry Dock Brewing's new production facility yesterday.  I was invited because of my work with the owners on this project.  While the project was fun, and I feel I accomplished my goals, I can't say that this experience left me satisfied with my career.  I keep wondering what if I actually did move forward on a small tap room brewery after losing my job in 2008.  I was so close....and probably the truth is, that I chickend out.

Somehow, I feel I missed an opportunity.  It left me wondering if there is indeed something else I should be doing.  Truth be told, I have always wanted to work for a brewery....from the very first tour of a brewery (Bud Plant at Busch Gardens, Tampa Florida in 1980 when I was 10, and subsequent visits to the big breweries in St. Louis and even Coors in Golden Colorado in 1998).  Making Beer!  WOW!  I started making my own beer in 1993....but it is those big production facilities that somehow seems like a natural fit.

If you need a communications director/government relations guy and you own a brewery, let me know.  I also know how to drive a forklift, brew, and have a firm grasp of math....sort of jack of all trades.