Home Brewing

Dia de los Muertos Party with Strand Brewers Club

These photos are from the Dia de Los Muertos party Friday night that was hosted by Chris and Alexis Remensperger and co-hosted by the Strand Brewers Club. For those of you unfamiliar with Dia de los Muertos, it is Spanish for Day of the Dead and is a three day festival celebrated throughout Mexico to remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey. Since the Strand Brewers recently lost one of their own in August, this year Dia de los Muertos took on special significance for many in attendance.

Dia de los Muertos is celebrated from October 31 through November 2, so the party included costumes for those so inclined (as you will see by the photos, many went all out). As it is a predominantly Mexican holiday, it only made sense that a taco cart would be made available serving delicious pollo, carne and al pastor tacos with all the fixings. For the kids, and some adults, a big screen was set up in the backyard showing The Nightmare Before Christmas. And there was beer, lots and lots of homebrewed beer along with a few commercial varieties.

As I mentioned before, the South Bay’s craft beer community is a lot like family at times and this was really shown last night when one looked around and saw just how many families are involved with the Strand Brewers. And while they may have lost Jeff in August, judging by the number of babies and youngsters at the party, the Strand Brewers has a build in membership that should last for decades. Cheers! Continue reading

Photos from the 2015 Pacific Brewers Cup

These photos are from the 2015 Pacific Brewers Cup homebrew competition which was held Saturday afternoon at Four Points by Sheraton at LAX. The event was hosted by Strand Brewers Club, Long Beach Homebrewers, and Pacific Gravity. There were 458 entries consisting of beer, mead and ciders.

While these photos were all taken Saturday, the fact of the matter is that with 458 entries, the judging portion actually started two weeks ago when members of the Strand Brewers Club had to sort the 1300 plus bottles into categories and get all the information entered in the competitions database. I helped out on the sorting by scanning in the entries with their assigned competition number; this gave me an opportunity to see where the entries came from. I have to admit, I was pretty surprised at how far and wide they came from; with several entries coming from out of state. Because of the substantial number of entries, there were a couple judging sessions done ahead of time.

As you might think, it is quite the task to judge 458 beers, mead and ciders and it truly takes a lot of work by an organized team to pull that off. The team yesterday consisted of 70 judges and 42 stewards. I met one of the judges yesterday that came all the way from Chandler, Arizona “for the love of beer” as opposed to trying to escape Chandler’s 100+ weather. While the judges were truly put to the test, I doubt that the event could have moved as smoothly as it did without the efforts of the stewards. Head Steward Barbara Bovee is to be congratulated for keeping things as organized as they were. Continue reading

Photos from Strand Brewers Monster Brew at Monkish Brewing

These photos were taken at a Monster Brew put on by the Strand Brewers Club and hosted by Monkish Brewing Company. While this was a Strand Brewers Club event, home brewers from Crude Brew Crew, Pacific Gravity, Maltose Falcons and Long Beach Homebrewers were also in attendance.

For those unfamiliar with a “monster brew”, typically, a brewery will create wort then sell batches of it to home brewers who will take it home and add their own preferred yeast and additional malts, extracts, hops or whatever they desire. Since Monkish Brewing does do Belgian-style brews I was not surprised to hear that Belgian-style pale ales were a popular goal for many.

The grain bill consisted of:

78% Domestic 2-Row Malt
12% Flaked Oats
5% Vienna Malt
4% Acid Malt

The goal was a 1.051 OG wort at 25 IBUs. I did not hear how close they were, but I suspect it was very close if not dead on.

As you can see by the photos, they had a very large turnout; I left before they finished doling out the wort so I am not sure if they had extra or not. I have seen times that gallons had to be dumped because it wasn’t all sold. The point is, if you are just getting into home brewing you should watch out for these events. Getting the wort right is the toughest part, so if you can get 5-10 gallons done professionally you have a great start to a good homebrewed beer. If you are a homebrewer and haven’t joined one yet, seek out a homebrew club in your area, you will find a community of people with a willingness to help you be the best you can be as a home brewer. Cheers! Continue reading

St. Patrick’s Day with the Crude Brew Crew

Last night we joined the Crude Brew Crew (CBC) Homebrew Club whose March meeting just happened to fall on St. Patrick’s Day this year. The event with was held at CBC member Noel’s home and featured the brewing of a Heady Topper clone that smelled delicious with its almost one pound of hops added. In addition there was an Irish Kissed Ale that was homebrewed by Michael last month and an outstanding Wild Smog City that Noel brewer from wort obtained at a Smog City Monster Brew. There were also a few bottles shared including The Bruery’s Mocha Wednesday and Kern River’s Citra that Keith and April brought along with them; if you have not had a chance to try that yet it is fantastic. The club’s president Jules brought his Kiwi’s Big Adventure that he brewed with Phantom Ales and he brought the fixings for some delicious corned beef tacos. We also got an opportunity to try Leprechaun Balls, clipped and prepared by April. They are even better than they sound.

If you are a home brewer and do not belong to a homebrew club you should really consider joining one. It is a great way to interact with others that share your passion for brewing and they are always willing to help you learn to brew better beer. You can learn more about the Crude Brew Crew by visiting their Facebook page. Cheers! Continue reading

Home Made Brew & Food Festival Photos

On Sunday afternoon I headed to the Port of Los Angeles for the Home Made Brew & Food Festival held to commemorate the second anniversary of Crafted, Southern California’s largest permanent market for handmade goods. As part of the anniversary celebration several homebrew clubs joined in to provide a wide selection of home brews provided by their members. In addition to the beer there were food trucks and live music. If one wanted to get out of the sun for a while, the historic Navy warehouse No. 10 was open with dozens of vendors inside providing everything from beads and jams to deep sea diving equipment (for decoration only).

The homebrew clubs that participated included The Crude Brew Crew, Long Beach Homebrewers, Yeastside Brewers, Maltose Falcons, F.E.R.M. Club and Strand Brewers Club. Live music was provided by The Gumbo Brothers. I got there a little late but I understand there was a home brewing demonstration also given. While I may have been late there were still plenty of nice brews to sample with just about every style of beer you could hope for from ales to stouts with several sours and many types of mead also available. There were also some food samples available, but I never did run across them; I may have been too late for that or they were in a portion of the warehouse that I did not get to. It was a fun event and everyone appeared to be have a great time enjoying the beer, music, sunshine and camaraderie with other beer brewers and consumers. Monies raised at the event were used to fund arts education programs put on by the San Pedro Art Association.

This was my first visit to Warehouse No. 10 and Crafted but I doubt it will be my last. I was a little surprised by all the cool items that were available; maybe even more surprised that I never knew the place existed. Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles is open every weekend; Friday, Saturday and Sunday. For hours and their schedule of special events you can visit their website at CraftedPortLA.com. Admission and parking is free. Cheers! Continue reading

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

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