Vol. 9, No. 4
National Homebrew Competition!
The Meeting: What's Happening
The Last Meeting
Meeting Schedule Beer News
Beer of the Month
Spencer Thomas: 994-0072
Josh Grosse: 769-0906
Thu, April 13 Steve Krebs Pilsner Tue, May 9 Who volunteered? Rauchbier Roundup Thu, June 15 Spencer Thomas Porter Sat, July 15 Bill Pfeiffer Beer-BQ Weiss is Nice Thu, Aug 10 Belgian Tue, Sep 12 Best of Fest Thu, Oct 12 Heavy (Barleywine) Tue, Nov 14 Renowned Brown Thu, Dec 14 Specialty/spice Jan, 1996 Pale Ale Feb, 1996 Stout March, 1996 Bock is Best
If you are planning to enter a beer in the AHA National Homebrew Competition, you must deliver the beer to Spencer by April 8, or send it yourself, to arrive by April 14.
The address to send entries to is
Millrose Country Store
55 S. Barrington Rd.
South Barrington, IL 60010
In either case, you must fill out an entry form for each beer (one is included in the newsletter), and attach a check, made out to the American Homebrewers Association. Entry fees are $12 each for non-members, $9 for members ($8 for >3, $7 for >10) (write your membership number on the check). Enter one bottle of each beer. It should have no label or other identifying marks. Only brown or green, plain 10-14 oz bottles may be entered. No swing-top bottles. Any markings on the cap must be blacked out. No raised glass lettering (aside from manufacturing codes and bottle capacity). Attach the form to the bottle with a rubber band.
If sending it yourself, pack securely, using bubble-wrap and/or foam "peanuts". A plastic bag will help contain leaks if a bottle breaks. You cannot legally send beer by US mail. It is legal to ship by UPS or other carrier, but they will sometimes not take it if you tell them it's beer. I say "non-perishable food in glass."
A copy of the "Style Guidelines Chart" is included. It doesn't have a full description of each style, but it does list all the styles and their code numbers. If you have a style question, call Spencer and he'll try to help.
Be sure to keep 3 more bottles of each beer, preferably in the refrigerator, in case your beer advances to the 2nd round.
Let's do it! Show that last year's performance was not a fluke. Enter your beer!!!
The beer style of the month is Pilsner. Of course, other beers are welcome, too.
The "judge round-table" will be happy to evaluate your beers and give you feedback on improving them (if you have a beer that needs no improvement, be sure to share it with us!)
A good time was had by all at Jim Rigney's last month. It was even warm enough to stand out on the patio.
We selected Hal Buttermore's Bock to send to the AHA Club-only Bock is Best competition. It was a very nicely done beer, and I understand it tastes even better when dispensed through a clean tap!
Jim Rigney demonstrated his beer filter. A cloudy ale was crystal clear after filtering. It's a good thing he did it on the patio, though. He forgot to install the O-ring at first, resulting in a beer leak.
The star of the evening may have been Jeff Renner's Your Father's Mustache, an American Pilsner (see the Beer of the Month article below.) This was an excellent recreation of the post-prohibition American pilsner style that Jeff remembers from his childhood. Unfortunately, it's all gone, so we won't get a second chance at it this month.
Pete Sobczak brought a Honey Stout, and Bob Lustig had Sort of Dry Stout and Amber Ale. Bill Pfeiffer has been brewing up a storm recently. He brought a Wit, an American Brown Ale, and a Brown Porter. Tim Belanger brought a (brewpub) dopplebock and a Nut Brown Ale. Ed Brosius bracketed the style range with a Bitter and his Imperial Coffee Sunshine Stout. Dan McBride's Ice Bock was syrupy and alcoholic. Nan Nelson put in a rare appearance and brought Raspberry stout and Stout-lager.
Lots of munchies were contributed by various members.
Thanks to the Merchant of Vino for bottles of Flag Porter, Norvig Ale, Motor City Pale Ale, and Motor City Nut Brown Ale. The first two have stories: Flag Porter is brewed with an authentic 1850 Porter recipe, using yeast retrieved from bottles that sank in a ship in the English Channel in 1825. Norvig Ale is brewed with a Norwegian "farmhouse" ale recipe, using yeast from a "yeast stick" passed down from generation to generation. Both were decent, but not overly exciting.
Motor City is brewed in the onetime Detroit & Mackinac brewery. The Pale Ale is excellent--malty, fruity, and hoppy. The Nut Brown seems more like a porter, and is not as outstanding.
I recently visited the (to be) Arbor Brewing Co., where the Washington Street Station restaurant used to be, one block east of Main on Washington St., in Ann Arbor. Matt and Renee Greff, their friends, and family are working hard to remodel the old building into a new brewpub. The whole place smelled like paint, as they are repainting and recovering all the chairs and tables. Matt was on his knees, regrouting the tile in the kitchen while a couple of other guys were on their hands and knees, scrubbing years of grease off the floor and walls.
They took a (welcome, I'm sure) break to talk to me about their plans. The brewery, a 7-barrel copper and brass system from DME, will dominate the main room from its glassed-in enclosure behind the bar. The smaller room (used to be the bar) will be the smoking area, and will also house dart boards and other pub games.
They're planning 4 regular beers: Snapper, a Special Bitter; a stout; a wheat ale (in the same vein as Bell's Solsun); and a pilsner. The fifth tap will be devoted to rotating seasonal beers, including a maibock, a smoked ale, an Oktoberfest, and a Christmas doppelbock. They've talked about sponsoring a competition where the winner gets to brew their recipe for the pub.
Matt doesn't have time for homebrewing any more, but he did still have samples of a couple of his brews. Unfortunately, they had just run out of the Snapper, but I did get to taste the stout and the pilsner. Both were very good. The stout was dark and roasty, but without that "sharp graininess" that many microbrewed stouts seem to have.
Homebrewers are welcome to stop in and say hi if somebody is there (which is most of the time!) If you're willing to paint or scrub or otherwise help, you're even more welcome!
They are planning to open in June. I can't wait!
Just down the street, the Grizzly Peak brewpub will be opening in the space recently vacated by the Old German restaurant. I haven't had the chance to talk with the Grizzly Peak folks, but I understand they're also shooting for a June opening. Looks like June will be a beery good month in Ann Arbor!
Article from The Rocky Mountain Brews (copied w/o permission)
by Jim Parker
DENVER, Colo. -- Wayne Waananen, who helped put the Hubcap Brewery and Kitchen of Vail on the map with his award-winning ales, has been named head brewer for the SandLot Brewery at Coors Field.
The brewing giant Coors' first foray into microbrewing will be the first brewery in a ballpark and will provide beer to a restaurant within the stadium structure as well as beer concession booths throughout the stadium.
Waananen will be responsible for formulating the beers at the SandLot, according to the project's directors, David Thomas and Dick Pyler.
"We are not going to `Coorsify' the beers," Pyler said. In fact, every effort has been made to make this project stand on it's own. The 10-barrel brewhouse was constructed by Newland's Services, a well known builder of microbreweries, rather than at Coors' own tank shop.
The SandLot is expected to have beer ready for opening day of the baseball season, April 3.
Bob Paolino via the Homebrew Digest
Excerpt from a "Beer Primer" written by brewer Eric Moreland for his grossly under(beer)educated wait staff at Angelic Brewing, Madison's newest brewpub.
Abbey: This is a Belgian beer style. Here's some background: the country of Belgium is the size of one city block, has about 50 citizens and 2,000 breweries. Because of its small size everybody wants to brew beers different from the next person. The result is many different versions of the same beer style. There are few standards. Ours is a version of a Trappist (or Abbey) Ale with a brownish tint, a slightly fruity flavor and medium hop bitterness.
Here's the beginning of the primer:
This memo is for those servers...who are being interrogated about the beer, and who, for the life of them can't think of a thing to say. I'll try to keep this simple as possible to cover 95% of the questions being asked; if someone asks more in-depth questions he/she is probably a beer geek and should be directed to me. Beer geeks are easily identifiable by two tell-tale signs: they hold the beer up to light to better see the color and smell it several times before drinking. These people are nothing but trouble and will ask you silly questions about enzymes and fermentation temperatures and various German sounding things. If this happens, you should smile politely and pity them; they can't help themselves.
by Bill Holmes
You may have heard yourself or someone else making statements like: "Most brewers use liquid yeast cultures" or "Most people brew to save money on beer." Are these true or just speculative generalizations? I thought it might be interesting to find out why and how club members brew, not only to see how we compare to the average American Homebrewer's Association member, but also so that newcomers can get an idea of the experience of club members they meet. So I slapped together a not-so-brief survey and asked everyone at last month's meeting to complete it. The 10 minutes of quiet and pencil scratching seemed more like a beer judge exam than a club meeting. I'm going to take a leap of faith and assume that the 30 respondents are a representative sample of the club membership. So, as Rolf says, here's the poop! (Note: I use `brewers' to refer to `AABG members').
The top three reasons AABGers brew beer are (in order): they enjoy the finished product, they enjoy the brewing process, and they want to share beer with friends. Only 10% put saving money among their main reasons for brewing.
Spreadin' the word: About half the brewers were introduced to brewing through friends, gifts or by visiting supply shops. Many (75%) collaborate some of their brewing with other homebrewers. The 30 respondents have introduced over 200 people to homebrewing!
Favorite styles and ingredients: The most common favorite styles to brew are pale ales and pilseners among a wide range of responses. Many are interested in learning to brew Belgian ales and lambics, and a few are interested in cream ale, rauchbier, rye beer, and kolsch. The majority have also made either mead (41%), cider (41%), or wine (31%). As for ingredients, 34% use malt extract and 66% use all-grain, 17% use dry packaged yeast and 83% use liquid yeast cultures.
Brewing experience: The 30 respondents have a total of 176 years of brewing experience. The average is 6 years; 38% have brewed over 5 years; 24% have brewed over 10 years! The 30 respondents brew a total of 327 batches per year. Almost half (43%) brew over 1 batch per month. The 30 respondents have entered into competitions a total of 164 beers (average=5). Many brewers report having at least one infection problem in their beer (62%) or at least one failed batch of beer (87%). Only 4 of the 30 report having no botched batches.
Other tidbits: 65% of the brewers subscribe to zymurgy, and 42% of those zymurgy subscribers also subscribe to Brewing Techniques or The New Brewer. Almost all (90%) plan to change or improve their brewing equipment.
Thanks to all who completed the survey!
I took Bill's survey and computerized it. From Friday, March 17 through Monday, April 3, 368 brewers responded. Some of the results were similar to the AABG survey, and some were different. Of course, this type of survey has no "quality control." Except for a few outrageous responses, the results look reasonable. Thanks to Bill for the idea.
Top 3 reasons to brew: enjoy the product, enjoy brewing, and share beer. About 20% had "save money" in the top 3. Only one said "to get drunk."
Spreadin' the word: About 2/3 were introduced to brewing by a friend, relative, or gift. Homebrew supply shops introduced about 20%. Other responses included "can't remember," and "I tried it, I liked it." 50% "usually" or "sometimes" collaborate. The survey respondents have each introduced an average of 2.7 people to homebrewing; one person claims (!) 94 (a suspiciously precise number).
Favorite styles and ingredients: Broadly speaking, pale ales were the most popular, followed by stout and porter. Only a few listed lager styles, although many are interested in learning to brew lagers. Extract brewers outnumbered all-grainers by over 2:1, while liquid yeasts narrowly edged out dry yeast. Mead (23%), cider (18%), and wine (21%) are popular.
Brewing experience: The average brewing experience is 3.3 years, with only 28 (7%) having brewed longer than 10 years (although one claims to have been brewing for 30!). About 1/3 brew at least once a month, with a few brewing once a week or more. In contrast to the AABG, only 25 (6%) have entered beers in competition (an average of 3 each.) Only 1/3 will admit to having had an infected batch, although they have had 1.6 "bad" batches each, on average. About 1/4 have had no "bad" batches.
Other tidbits: 21% subscribe to Zymurgy, 9% to Brewing Techniques, and 13% read the Homebrew Digest (e-mail). 83% plan to change or improve their equipment.
If you have "World Wide Web" access, you can see the full summary of results
***Great Success in Recreating Classic American Pilsner, a Shamefully Neglected Style!***
Now that I have your attention, I hope you'll read this long article. I think it will be worth it.
Last fall I asked for help in recreating the taste of the beers I grew up having tastes of in Cincinnati in the fifties. Part of the flavor I remembered was certainly just the pungency of beer to a child's sensitive palate. But part was certainly the greater hopping levels, some DMS from the corn that was expected, especially by mid-western palates, and just the greater flavor profile produced by brewing without techniques designed to reduce flavors (N2 wort scrubbing, neutral yeasts, minimal wort caramelization, etc.).
Starting with the Brewing Techniques article on Pre-prohibition Lagers by George Fix (May/June,'94) and the one on Bushwick Pilsners by Ben Jankowski (Jan./Feb.'94), I formulated a 1.048 OG, 1.016 FG. 80% six-row, 20% flaked maize, 25 IBU target beer fermented with New Ulm yeast from Yeast Culture Kit Co. A good bit of the body/sweetness profile was produced by the short, 15 minute rest at 60C with 45 minutes at 70C, giving an apparent attenuation of 67%. If these times were reversed, it would probably result in an apparent attenuation of close to 80%, giving a drier, snappier, less satiating beer. This is not what I wanted.
Because I was mostly brewing for historical curiosity, I brewed only five gallons. I now wish I'd brewed my usual 1/4 barrel, because it succeeded beyond my wildest expectations! Not only did I brew a successful historical reproduction, this is a great style by absolute, world-class standards. American mega-breweries have to answer not only for the sin of what they are producing today, but for having killed off a great beer style. Steam beer is not our only indigenous beer style, only our best known.
This isn't a continental pilsner, but it yields nothing to that style in absolute terms. Fix and Jankowski were too stinting in their praise of this style. I guess I thought of it as a pretty good job that American brewers did making do with the materials available. It is far more. This extinct beer is a world class style. I'm not saying that my beer is a world class beer, but it's pretty damn good. It has a beautiful, full golden color with a long lasting, thick creamy head, full flavor with modest maltiness bolstered by the subtle corny sweetness, balanced by a clean hops bitterness and yeast character, with a long, clean bitter finish.
We as homebrewers have helped revive other extinct styles (such as porter), and I propose to this group that this should be next one. This isn't lawnmower beer. This is the beer that our grandfathers paid a nickel for and got a free lunch with. This is the beer that German immigrants created when they arrived in the US, and that swept out the ales in the lager revolution by its demonstrably better quality. This is the beer of American steelworkers and shipbuilders. This is the beer that built America! This is the bee... Oops. Sorry. I got so excited that I fell off my soapbox.
Now I know we are all fond of ales and despise American megaswill lagers. We lament that ales were forced out of America by lagers. But we are comparing today's commercial lagers with the ales we make or microbrews. That switch would have been a tragedy, but a classic American Pilsner is a different beer entirely, and ales of 150 years ago were probably pretty rough.
We've always heard that corn and rice are nothing more than malt stretchers. American six-row barley malt is too high in protein to make stable beers, so corn was first used to dilute the protein. Cost cutting was a bonus that got out of hand. But 20% corn is a delightful flavor addition. Unfortunately, I know of no commercial examples that still exist with that corn and malt expression, especially with decent hopping levels.
The AHA guidelines are limiting on this. They allow a premium American lager to have a maximum of 23 IBU, and say nothing about corny DMS -- this generally is considered a defect. (Fix relates judges who liked his beer but found it "far out of category.") But this flavor was expected, especially in mid-western beers. At the Ann Arbor Brewers' Guild meeting last month, this beer got rave reviews from all
To make 5 gallons.
9 gal moderately (temp.) hard well water boiled to soften and eliminate bicarbonate alkalinity, racked, treated with 2 t. CaCl2(2H2O), target 60 ppm Ca.
7 lbs. American six row malt (80%)
1.75 lbs. flaked maize (20%)
Doughed in 8.5 qts. 58C water to get 50C protein rest, 30 min., (pH 5.5),
infused w/ 3 qts. boiling water to 60C sac. rest for 15 minutes,
boosted w/ burner to 70C sac. rest for 40 minutes,
boosted w/ burner to 76C mashoff for 10 min. Lautered in insulated Zapap, collected 7 gal. @ 1.041 for 32.8 p/p/g.
Note - Beautifully clear wort with minimum recirculation, easy sparge. This six-row is beautiful to work with.
Boil - 1 hr, beautiful hot break, like egg drop soup
Hopped to 25 IBU target:
25 g. Cluster hops pellets @7.5% - 1hr boil 1/4 oz.
Styrian Goldings @5.2% - 10 min. boil plus settling steep - 15 min.
1/4 oz. Styrian Goldings @5.2% - 15 min. settling steep.
Counter current cooled to 64F, 4.75 gallons collected at 1.055, then diluted to 5.5 gallons at 1.048 in 7 gallon carboy, force chilled in snowbank to 50F. Pitched New Ulm yeast from bottom of 3 liter starter.
Fermented @ 50F - 52F 12 days, racked, lagered seven weeks @ 33F, kegged, conditioned with 10 psi @ 38F, then dispensed at 42F-44F.
The flavor showed best at mid 40sF and when drawn to give a good head and reduced carbonation. (Most beer shows best like this).
I hope I have encouraged some of you lager brewers to try this style. It is naked brewing, as Dan McConnell commented. There isn't any place to hide, so watch your techniques. Please let me know your results, and lobby for this to be a recognized style. I propose two divisions: Pre-prohibition, OG 1.050 - 1.060, 25 - 40 IBU; post prohibition, OG 1.044-1.049. 20 - 30 IBU. I suppose we could recognize rice rather than corn, but rice really is a flavor/body diluent. Fix says that modern American lagers grew out of pre-prohibition "Western Lager," a lower gravity, lower hopped, rice adjunct beer that was held in "low esteem" by Easterners.
Thanks to Martin Manning, Ed Westemeier and Lowell Hart for their ideas on what made the beer I remembered from the 50's, and George Fix and Ben Jankowski for their Brewing Techniques articles.
Rauchbier Roundup May 22 Weiss is Nice Aug 14 Best of Fest Oct 23 Renowned Brown Dec 4
Upcoming judging events include the AHA National Homebrew Competition 1st round in Chicago, April 28-30. There will be a car-pool. Hotel reservations are a must. The Red Roof Inn (1-800-843-7663) has rooms for $47.99+tax/double (two beds). Mention the AHA and confirmation number B199000021. Make reservations by April 18.
Other judging events include: Mazer Cup Mead, May 26; Small Beer, June 24; State Fair, August 12 or 19; Taste of the Great Lakes late October; Chicago Real Ale Fest October 13-14.
A preliminary description of the competition is included in this issue.
Competition Calendar Competition Name Entry Deadline Contact Upstate New York HB Assoc. Apr 12 Tom Kaltenbach, firstname.lastname@example.org AHA National Competition Apr 14 Zymurgy Winter issue, bring beer to April AABG meeting Bidal Society of Kenosha Apr 15 Carol DeBell, 414-654-2211 (Wisconsin) Chili Cookoff and Beer Brewoff Apr 18 Jana Stevens, 303-241-0070 (Colorado) Northern Brewer, Ltd. Apr 21 612-291-8849 (Minnesota) Big and Huge May 6 MHTG, P.O. Box 1365, Madison, WI 53701-1365 3rd Spirit of Free Beer May Delano Dugarm, 703-516-9659 (Wash, DC area) 4th Mazer Cup Mead Competition May 8 - 19 Dan McConnell, 313-663-4845 Small and Tiny Beer Competition May 29-June 10 Spencer Thomas, 313-994-0072 Michigan State Fair July 28-Aug 11 Hal Buttermore, 313-663-1236 Beer and Sweat `95 (keg only) Aug 12 Tim Thomas, 513-221-3388 (Cincinnati / Ft. Mitchell, Ky.) Real Ale Fest (keg only) Early October More info to come. 1995 Capitol District Open Oct 30 Fred Hardy, 703-378-0329 (Wash, DC area) November Classic Nov 4 MHTG, Box 1365, Madison, WI.
This month we feature a guest question/answer from the Boston Wort Processors newsletter, answered by Jay Hersh.
Q: I have a hard time with style definitions and judges' comments since I often look at certain flavor profiles as "defects." Can you help me?
A: Defect is a harsh word. There are a lot of flavors present in beer. These arise from a variety of sources and vary widely with the style and the process. Often characteristic flavors are strongly related to traditional processes used to produce a certain style of beer. As George Fix has indicated one can not divorce the flavor of a particular style from its history.
So indeed characteristics that are a desirable flavor in one beer are indeed considered a defect in another, but this is not a random designation. This arises from an understanding of the history, ingredients, and process in which that beer is made. For most of the styles used in competitions there is a reasonable consensus as to what the characteristics of that style are. The styles are not defined in a vacuum, rather they arise from a cross section of commercial beers that designate themselves to be of those styles as well as what I mentioned above (history, etc.).
Homebrewing is a hobby/art/science whereby a brewer tries to create a product that expresses themselves, pleases their taste (and their friends tastes), and possibly also to create an existing recipe/style. If a particular brewer considers the presence of a certain flavor as desirable that others may find offensive, that is OK. The brewer is suiting their taste. It has been said that there are as many styles as there are beers being brewed and in a sense that is true. But that also makes it impossible to try to impose any objectivity on the judging process, a process that by its very nature is subjective. In order to have any means for comparison that tries to impose some level of objectivity, the concept of styles has arisen. This concept is not unique to beer. Wine has this concept as well and this concept also serves marketing purposes in that it can promote (as well as confuse, i.e. Cranberry Lambic sic...) competition by presenting a brewer's offerings to be in a range of flavor characteristics that includes that brewers competitors.
Styles exist as a mark by which those seeking competition can judge themselves. An old friend used to offer up beers to me for my advice on his recipe concoction. He would ask me what to do to his recipe. I would ask him what style he was trying for, or at least in his mind what he wanted the beer to taste like. He would get a little irritated since he previously was adamant about styles not mattering. I then posed the parable to him that he was like a lost person asking directions without knowing where he was trying to go.
To finally beat this point to death I'd use a cooking comparison. If you wanted to make chocolate chip cookies you'd want a recipe. While there is variation among this style of cookie from household to household, and manufacturer to manufacturer, people can still tell chocolate chip cookies from sugar cookies, etc. If you were to set out to make them you'd want some guidelines as to what the recipe might include and what the final product should taste like.
With regard to beer I think most judges would agree that there are only a few flavors that would universally be classified as defects. Most others are characteristic flavors which may or may not be suitable for style.
I hope this explains a little more about style and judging. -- Jay Hersh