Thursday, March 25, 2010

I sent in 3 beers to NHC - 1st round

In all my years of homebrewing I have continuously procrastinated, chickened out, or gotten sticker shock at the thought of entering the NHC. Well this year might be my last real chance, as I am hoping to be a full time pro brewer by this time next year. I brewed a lot of beer this year, but in the end, I only sent in 3 beers, which I think are really excellent. I probably would have sent in 5 or so, but my AHA membership expired and I didn't have the money to renew it at the time, so the entry fee was a whopping $14 per entry (it's $9 for members).

These beers made the final cut:

Dale's Mild: Brewed by myself and Paul, I actually entered this as a Scottish 70 shilling because the yeast is very clean. It just tasted and smelled a lot like a Scottish 70. We'll see if the judges agree.

Woody: The American oak-aged Barleywine. This was tasting killer 6 months ago, and I haven't had a chance to try it since then, since I had exactly 4 bottles left. I might get to try it if my buddy Fritz breaks out the bottle I gave him while we are in NYC this weekend. 6 months ago, there was a little too much of a harsh oaky finish on an otherwise stellar beer, so I am hoping that the time has been good for it and mellowed it out a bit.

Fresh-hopped Black Saison: The hops have faded substantially, so I called it a black farmhouse ale at 8.1% ABV. Personally I think it has only improved with age.

Other beers that almost made the cut were the Belgian Dark Strong, which is still a little too alcohol-hot and needs some time, and the Belgian Blond, which is pretty darn good, but has too much banana in the nose, and just isn't quite the easily drinkable Belgian ale that a blond should be.

Unfortuanately both the pilsner and the smoked helles that I had such high hopes for have a DMS issue, but the third lager, the Baltic Porter I did with Paul is tasting great and just went in to lagering in a corny.

Who else is entering beers? If you are on the fence, it's time to shit or get off the pot (nice mixed metaphor there)! All entries must be in by April 1st. Good luck!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Brewing for PCTBB

9 full carboys! And only one open keg. Time to do some drinking! (And bottling.)
  • Starting at the left: PCTBB beer #2, Baltic Porter
  • 2 cornies: Flanders Red (brewed in Brooklyn), Berlinner Weisse
  • Back row: Flanders Red, Berlinner Weisse, Flanders Pale
  • Middle row: Deliverance Kentucky Sour x2, Brett strong saison
  • Front: PCTBB beer #1
I just finished brewing my second beer for the homebrew side of the Portland Cheers to Belgian Beers festival / competition. This is one of the coolest ideas I've ever seen for a beer event, and one that could only happen in a brewtopia like Portland, Oregon. I will be entering at least 2 beers, and I want to keep the recipes secret until after the competition because I know of at least one local beer judge that reads this blog. Since they will be entered in the Belgian specialty beer category, I will have to specify the "style" of beer I am brewing, and I want to make sure my beers are judged without a clue of who brewed them. I'll post those 2 recipes after the competition on May 1st, along with a tasting.

My friend Forrest was in town this week, and he helped me brew a 10 gallon batch of the Deliverance Kentucky Sour, which I will post soon, along with catching up on some tastings of recent beers. I also need to try my saison Dupont "Clone" against the real thing, and let me tell you, although I'm wild about the bottle conditioned version, it's very different from Dupont.

Work is going well, I've helped out at probably 8 different breweries bottling beer with Green Bottling recently. Things are going slow but steady on opening for Breakside. We just took a look at the brewery space yesterday. The floors still need to be sealed and we need to build a temperature control room for the 60 gallon plastic conicals, since they are not jacketed. I'm going to try to find fittings for them this week so we can attach a blow off and CO2 line, drill a hole to fit a racking arm, and construct a dump valve for the bottom. We are probably going to put the stand on casters so the conicals can be moved in and out of the cool room, taken out to room temperature for the last few days of fermentation, and then crashed in the walk-in. I'll try to post some pics of the Breakside setup as soon as I get my girlfriend's camera battery fixed and the place gets a little better set up.

EDIT: If you are brewing for PCTBB I'd love to hear what you are brewing or your experience with the yeast in the comments.