Saturday, June 30, 2012

Stainless camlocks

The next step in my 10 gallon brewery upgrade, stainless steel camlock connectors.

It is time to retire the 1/2" copper barbs and hook up the new camlock connectors that arrived today from Bargain Fittings. You cannot find a better price, faster service, and quality products than Bargain Fittings.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fear and Loathing in a fermentation chamber

 It all began May 15 2012. I was in Gresham Oregon for a work training class seminar sort of thing. Coincidentally, near the class, is the home of Stout Tanks and Kettles. A stainless steel conical fermenter is what I need to take my brewing the next step. I run out of beer too quickly and have a hard time managing the bottling for competitions, sharing growlers with friends, and having beer on hand at home. brewing 10 gallons instead of 5 means the same amount of effort, but twice the volume. I purchased a 14.5 gallon stainless steel conical fermenter with a thermo-well and racking arm. 

I get the fermenter home and realize I have no way to control the temperature. If I have learned nothing else from all of the processes and methodology of beer brewing beer, I have learned the lack of temperature control during fermentation will kill your beer. My garage gets upwards of 90 degrees in the heat of summer and can get below 40 in the winter. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The BJCP entrance Exam

My friend James convinced me to look into the BJCP entrance exam in order to, one day, become a certified BJCP judge, which is a recognized and certified person who judges other people's beer. It is something I have been wanting to get into for a while now. Free entry to beer festivals, tasting a lot of great beer (and some bad) for free, meeting new and interesting people, and having the fate of people's hopes and dreams in my snide authoritarian grasp.

So tonight I took a 20 question practice exam and I passed it, which surprised me. My wife routinely allows me time like this so that I may indulge in my beer obsession, after all it's Father's Day. I downloaded the BJCP exam study guide and read the judging portions, which I know nothing about, and decided to take the exam. I figured, It's only $10.00 so what the heck.

200 questions in 60 minutes. At the 30 minute mark I was on question 85 or so. Right then and there I knew there was no way I was going to finish in time. I actually had about 4 or 5 unanswered questions out of the 85. so I picked it up and wasn't even reading all of the multiple choice answers and going with the first one that sounded correct. The true/false questions I partially read, because, what the hell, it's 50/50. At one point I was internally talking myself out of it, like "this is stupid, why am I even taking this test?  I'll never finish it and never take the damn thing again. I don't even care about judging beer."

So I hit question 200 with 3.3 minutes to spare. The summary link gave me a list of numbers that represent the questions. Green numbers are answered while red numbers are not. 6 or so unanswered questions. I knock them out with 1 minute 15 to spare. I hit submit:

I am now a BJCP provisional judge, which means I will need to take the BJCP Beer Tasting Examination, and that consists of completing score sheets for six beers served at 15 minute intervals, before I become a real certified judge.

Homebrew Competitions

The main reason for a home brewer to enter a homebrew competition should be for the Beer Score Sheet. All BJCP sanctioned competitions use the official Beer Score Sheet. It is a breakdown of how the judge interpretted your beer. You will receive at least two score sheets from every entry.

 When sharing beer with friends and family, a person does not get the impartial, un-biased, and educated opinion of a BJCP Certified Judge. Family and friends usually have the best of intentions, but good intentions do not make for a better brewer.

There are great Judges, like Sean Drew of the Impaling Alers brew club in Seattle Washington who judged my Traditional Bock last winter for a Washington State (I have never placed in my own state...) competition and was able to detect a 'hint of smoke', which I could not detect even though I did put in a small amount of smoked malt in as I thought it would add complexity to the aroma. Sean pointed out some of my flaws that I sort of knew were there, but was not actually sure of. Flaws like Diacetyl, I did not fully understand lager fermentation and that you really need to let the yeast run its course and do what it is supposed to do. Sean also pointed out that I probably did not have a large enough yeast starter, which stressed the yeast and gave a hot alcohol mouthfeel. Sean was spot on and because of his feedback I have done some reading, changed my process,  and have had my next lager, Stanley Steamer, take 1st in Pennsylvania, and third in  Ann Arbor Michigan.

On the flip side, there are score sheets that come back with very little insight. I have found a few Judges tend to be hopheads, which is pretty typical for most American craft beer drinkers, there is a wide world of beer styles out there and so many people limit themselves to one style of extreme hops, you know which one I'm talking about.

Of course winning medals and ribbons is really cool and makes us feel accomplished, but the Score Sheet is usually full of constructive criticism that can pinpoint flaws we may be overlooking.  If you are a homebrewer and have friends say what terrific beer you make, enter a homebrew competition and have your beercentric ego put in check.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Stanley Steamer receives another medal in Michigan

Stanley Steamer, California Common style lager receives third place in Ann Arbor Michigan at the ABC Brews Crews 2012 Homebrew Competition.

Congrats to Todd Hale and Art Smith on their Altbier entries.

The competition had 357 beer, 16 mead, and 14 cider entries. Stanley Steamer placed in the Amber Hybrid category that consisted of 9 total entries.

Amber Hybrid Beer – Category 7 (9 entries)
Todd Hale Cass River HomebrewersPort Huron, MIDusseldorf 07CDüsseldorf Altbier1
Art SmithLapeer Area BrewersLapeer, MIAlternator07ANorth German Altbier2
John ReedMid Columbia Zymurgy AssociationWest Richland, WAStanley Steamer07BCalifornia Common Beer
For more information go here

Brew Pal 2.0 - The only reason I still use an Iphone

Brew Pal 2.0 is coming soon!!!!

Correction - 2.0 is out now. Check iTunes and download Brew Pal 2.0... There are a couple tools that were left out of 2.0, but Dave says will be available in 2.1.

  • Refractometer tool
  • water per pound of grain adjustment
  • total water volume
  • batch sparge ratio


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Stanley Steamer took 1st place for Amber Hybrids.

Reed Brewing's Stanley Steamer, a California Common style lager, took 1st place in the Amber Hybrid category at the Buzz Off Homebrew competition in Downingtown Pennsylvania. There were 589 total entries, 8 of which were in the Amber Hybrid category. Stanley Steamer was also the only entry West of the Mississippi to place.

I guess I will probably be doing this one again!