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Home Brewing

Home Brew Day: Glacier Summer Ale

I have discussed home brewing here a few times; primarily how much I respect those that do it and how home brewing really isn’t up my alley. I tried a Brooklyn Brewshop Beer Making Kit back in October and came away from the experience with the conclusion that when it comes to production or consumption I am a lot better at the latter. That being said, my son is an excellent home brewer. On Thursday afternoon I headed down to his place to participate in his 12th brew day.

Now it may seem that my son must be a total newbie when it comes to brewing since he “only” has twelve brews under his belt, but I am here to say that while he may be new at this there is no way you would taste his beers and come to that conclusion. I have had several of his brews including an IPA, DIPA, a red ale, a pale ale, his chocolate, vanilla, bourbon porter and most recently, his From Sochi to Stanley Stout and he has never failed to amaze; and that is not just the father in me talking. We both understand that good beer is more important than undeserved compliments. The fact is, I have been to many home brewing events and I would put my son’s brews up against most that I have tried; in fact, he is better than some breweries I have been to.

A couple weeks ago my son and his family went up to Montana to camp and visit places like Glacier National Park. While he was up there his wife came up with the idea of foraging for some items to use in his next brew. If you look closely at the photos you will notice a few things you do not normally find when brewing. The first thing you might notice are the stones in the brewing kettle. He gathered them at Avalanche Creek in Avalanche Gorge and included them throughout the process from beginning with the intent of adding additional minerals. Also included are fresh pine nuts and Forget-Me-Nots which he gathered from the trailhead of Trail of the Cedars and clumps of moss that he gathered from the Avalanche Lake trail. The water you see being added was fresh glacier water that he got from Avalanche Creek; I tasted a little before he added it to his wort and it was as tasty as water can be on its own. Because so many ingredients came from Glacier National Park he is naming this brew Glacier Summer Ale.

The last photo shows the color what the end result should be; which is exactly what he was aiming for. We will have to wait a couple weeks to try this brew but it should be interesting. I cannot wait to report back. Cheers! Continue reading

Strand Brewers Club November meeting

On the second Wednesday of the month Strand Brewers Club, a local home brewing club, holds their monthly meetings at South Bay Brewing Supply in Torrance. I try to come as frequently as I can as it is a nice group of people that are very enthusiastic about home brewing and are eager to show off their home brewed beers as well as provide information about home brewing to anyone that asks.

Last night was their November meeting which included sampling of many homebrews, a presentation on how to grow your own hops by Nate and the election of new officers to the Strand Brewers Club board. The campaigns for the various offices were fought with minimal mudslinging and a new board was elected. Your new officers will be David, Ryan, Rich, Doug and Bob. It looks like they are in good hands for a while. Rives set the bar high during his term as President and I know the entire group appreciates his efforts.

If you live in the South Bay and do home brewing or are considering it, you should really consider joining Strand Brewers Club. The dues are only $37 a year and includes the camaraderie of other beer brewers who will assist you as much as they can as well as lots of beers to sample and even some sandwiches at their monthly meetings. It is a good deal and a lot of fun. Cheers! Continue reading

Homebrewing an Everyday IPA

For some reason a lot of people think that because I enjoy craft beer so much I must also be a home brewer; well, that is not the case. Primarily because when I first got into craft beer it was due to being on the road more than I was home, so I never really considered it. As time progressed to 2013 I knew I would eventually take the step, but it was not a priority and I was doing other things. In July some friends gave me a Brooklyn Brewshop Beer Making Kit. It was decided that I would write an article about the experience as a first time home brewer. Since it was July and they did not build homes with air conditioning around here, I knew I did not want to boil anything in my kitchen for a couple more months. I looked at the box with its five easy steps and figured “How hard can it be?” I would read the instructions a few times, hit up YouTube and breeze right through this. Not exactly. So, this is written from the perspective of a first time home brewer to a first time home brewer. Or should I say, a first time all-grain home brewer.

I might as well address this first; I am not sure that it would change my experience because I had no say in the matter. I am talking about brewing from extract or all-grain. To tell you the truth, people would ask which way I was doing it and I would say it was a kit. I seem to recall they all presumed it was extract; I did not know what the difference was until after I did my first home brew. If you do not know, I will summarize it for you. If you brew from an extract they have essentially made the wort for you and you just add water and boil. Sounds really easy, I could get into that. The other method is all-grain; it is more work but if you know what you are doing you have a lot more control. If your kit came with a bag of fluid, you are brewing from extract; if it comes with a bag of grain you aren’t. So, brewing from extract is fun; brewing from all-grain is almost work, at least for a beginner. For the record, the Everyday IPA is an all-grain mix; it never mentions that fact on the box although it does show you making mash, so they presume you know the difference.

Actually, while my beer is fermenting I have talked to friends that have suggested that Brooklyn Brewshop is presuming a lot of things, which I discovered a little too late in the process, so learn by my mistakes. On the box they do tell you that you are going to need a six quart pot (a second pot is handy), a fine mesh strainer and a funnel. Since all the instructions I have seen hinted that this was “as easy as making oatmeal” and since Tanya, my girlfriend, is pretty handy around the kitchen I was confident that whatever cooking supplies we did not own would not be a problem in obtaining. Continue reading

17th Annual Pacific Brewers Cup at Smog City Brewing

These photos are from the 17th Annual Pacific Brewers Cup Homebrew Competition which was held Saturday, September 14, 2013 at Smog City Brewing Company in Torrance, CA. The Pacific Brewers Cup competition is hosted on a rotating basis by three local home brewer clubs; Strand Brewers Club from Torrance, Long Beach Homebrewers and Pacific Gravity from Culver City. This year the Long Beach Homebrewers were the hosts. The Pacific Brewers Cup 2013 was an AHA sanctioned homebrew competition and used the beer style guidelines published by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP).

While I have sampled a few beers in my time and acted as a judge recently for a small homebrew competition I have never been to a competition of this magnitude before. I was told that there were over 450 entries so before I got there I wondered how the heck you get enough people to judge that many beers in one sitting. To be honest, as of this writing all indications are that the judging is still going on. As you can see by the photos they broke the beers down by category so the judges only had to rate one style of beer at a time. Of course, I was only there within the first two hours of the event so there is a pretty good likelihood that after one style was finished they had to move on to another. The Best of Show winner gets an opportunity to brew his winning beer at Ohana Brewing Company, so there was a lot of incentive to put out an award winning beer.

I did not get an opportunity to try any of the submissions, but I did not see a lot of beer being poured into the bucket so it looked like judges were not having too much trouble enjoying their Saturday morning. I know it gave me some incentive to look into learning to be a BJCP certified judge. Once I learn who the winner was, I will come update this article. Good luck to all; cheers!

The winners of the Pacific Brewers Cup have been announced. Please visit http://pacificbrewerscup.com/?q=node%2F16 for details.
Continue reading

Drink Good Beer Mash-Up Homebrew Competition – Best of Show

This evening I headed out to The Factory Gastrobar to participate as a judge in the Drink Good Beer Mash-up Homebrew Competition to help decide the Best of Show from the six finalists as determined by the AHA/BJCP judging that was held a couple weeks ago. There were 17 entries, of which six made it as finalists and there were two additional brews added in the Supporting Category. The winner of the competition gets to brew their beer with Evan Weinberg of Cismontane Brewing Company; the winners will be announced Saturday at the 2nd Annual Drink Good Beerfest.

The Best of Show finalists were:

Jon Silvertooth – Lampo Bianco (Saison)
Gabriel Gonzales – Chocolante (Chocolate Pepper Porter)
Peter & Kimberly Mynar – Tread Lightly (IPA)
Ray Grace – Flop Guts (American Ale)
Sarah and Mathew Luker -Citra (IPA)
Peter & Kimberly Mynar – Black Eye (Black IPA)

The runner ups (Supporting Category) were:

Josh Keliner and Rick White – Dr Strangelove (Belgian Strong)
Peter and Kimberly Mynar – Russian Spy (Imperial Stout)

Congratulations to the finalists and thank you for the opportunity to try your homebrews. I am looking forward to meeting you at the 2nd Annual Drink Good Beerfest. Continue reading

Strand Brewers Club at South Bay Brewing Supply

I have a confession to make; I have never tried home brewing beer. That is about to change as I received a beer making kit for a birthday present last month. Since I plan on doing a pictorial on the process I have been reading and re-reading the instructions and I have been asking questions of those that I know that have been home brewing for a while. I want my first time to have positive results so I will feel comfortable breaking away from the beer making kit so when I received an invitation to visit the Strand Brewers Club at their monthly meeting last night I accepted and headed over to South Bay Brewing Supply in Old Torrance for the Strand Brewers’ August meeting.

While I only knew a person or two, I was made to feel quite welcome. The first hour or so was spent networking with other home brewers and sampling the many home brews that were brought in by members. To say that there was a wide variety of beers being brewed by this group would be an understatement; you would be hard pressed to find as many different styles of beer at your favorite gastropub. That is not to suggest that Strand Brewers Club is only for experienced brewers. While many of their members have been brewing for a couple years, there are also those that have 20 years of experience and one of last night’s attendees had only started drinking craft beer two months ago. The current president, Rives Borland, told me that when he joined Strand Brewers Club he was quite new to brewing and told me that coming to the monthly meetings had a lot to do with his current brewing success (he has won a few awards for his beers).

After the networking, there was a presentation given on Oxygenation as part of their continuing efforts to include educational discussions at their meetings. On occasion they do brewing at their events, so if you are interested in learning to brew or you are a home brewer and want to hang out and exchange ideas with other home brewers, you should probably consider looking for a home brew club like Strand Brewers Club. Visitors are welcome to join them and if you like the group, then join. Dues are only $37 a year ($48 for couples) which I think is quite reasonable considering the wealth of information you can gain just by hanging around and listening. Continue reading

Crude Brew Crew Taste-cast at Smog City Brewing

According to the Brewers Association there are more than 2,400 craft and microbreweries around the United States. Even before craft beer became so popular there were home brewers experimenting with various hops, malts and yeasts to create their own special brews. One might ascertain that due in part to the Internet, these home brewers would start socializing with each other and soon there were home brewing clubs popping up where their members could brew together as well share their ingredients and ideas and drink the results of this social interaction. In fact, if you read the biography of many of craft beers head brewers; they started off as home brewers with many of them being members of home brewing clubs. One of these local home brewing clubs is the Crude Brew Crew which is located in Torrance, CA.

This past Saturday, June 22, the Crude Brew Crew (CBC) met for their monthly meeting and podcast at Smog City Brewing Company, also in Torrance. Head brewer and co-owner of Smog City, Jonathan Porter was at one time a home brewer and a member of a local home brewer club so it made perfect sense that the CBC hold a meeting at Smog City. They did a podcast, with an interview of Jonathan and Laurie Porter that was supposed to be followed with a Q and A session. Smog City’s building is large and there were a lot of people there, so they had to improvise on the Q and A portion but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves as well as enjoying the new releases the Smog City was pouring. They also brought out a Hop Rocket which infuses fresh hops to their Amarilla Gorilla IPA which made it almost creamy. The Little Bo Pils was quite refreshing.

While the podcast was not available at the time of this writing, it should be available on the Crude Brew Crew website before too long. Smog City Brewing Company is located at 1901 Del Amo Blvd, Torrance, CA. Continue reading

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