Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Results Are In!

Last week I had a couple of homebrew club events. The first being our monthly BJCP style session at The Old Toad, this month featuring...

Category 12: Porter

An awesome beer in an awesome-r bottle!
The Porter category is broken down into 3 sub categories, and Thomas, one of our BJCP gurus did an awesome job of sourcing some great examples of each.

12-A: Brown Porter

  • Old-Style Porter by St. James Brewery
  • Taddy Porter by Samuel Smith
  • Entire Butt English Porter by Salopian Brewery
  • London Porter by Meantime Brewing
12-B: Robust Porter
  • Porter by Sierra Nevada
  • Bully! Porter by Boulevard Brewing
  • New World Porter by Avery Brewing
  • Bad Elmers Porter by Upland Brewing
12-C: Baltic Porter
  • Baltika #6 Porter by Baltika
  • Porteris by Aldaris
  • Gonzo Imperial Porter by Flying Dog
After all those great porters, it was time to get some sleep because we had our UNYHA meeting the next day and I was ready to get my scoresheets from our annual competition!

I'd entered two beers in the UNYHA competition, both in category 16. 16-A Witbier and 16-B Belgian Pale Ale, and they both did pretty good. I was hoping for a little higher score, but I was pretty happy for my first time entering a competition.

Cover sheet for my judging notes
Both of my beers scored a 26 out of a perfect possible score of 50, which puts them in the range of "Good" beers. I was hoping to push a little closer to 30, but theres always next year! Most of the feedback I got on the beers was pretty good. They both were a little stale and oxidized, most likely due to the fact that these brews were about 4 months old at the time of the competition. They both also lacked a little head retention, which is something I've noticed about them and need to tweak my recipes.   Overall though, the judges seemed to think these beers were going in the right direction, just a few more tweaks needed. As a comparison, I think the beer that won my category scored a 32 or a 32.5, so I wasn't too far behind! Not too bad for a first effort!

With my scoresheets in tow, and some sanitizer that I picked up for helping steward the competition, it was time to head home, and to Columbus, Ohio for my annual concert weekend with my Brother-in-Law Andrew. We skipped the beers at the concert ($8 Bud thanks!) but picked up some more Ohio beers at the carry-out by his house. It was a great beer week and I brought a few great beers back to Rochester with me!


Friday, May 9, 2014

A Great Week for Beer!

I have 20 minutes left for my boil of my latest homebrew, so I thought I'd do a quick write-up on what's been happening on the beer front this week.

Last weekend I headed west to Ohio for our niece's 5th birthday party. While I was there staying with my parents, my thoughts turned to beer of course! Unfortunately the nearest brewery was closed on Sundays, but the next best thing was close by.

We made the short drive from Caledonia to Delaware, Ohio and and to Barley Hopsters. A pretty nice little bottle shop/homebrew store. I needed to get some yeast and then I took a look at all the beers they had, with a big focus on Ohio beers.

Part of my haul from Barley Hopsters

The next day it was time to make my long drive back to Rochester, but my parents gave me a pretty sweet parting gift. A new sign for my garage/homebrewery! They had picked it up and were planning to give it to me for my birthday, but they decided to give it to me early. (I think so they didn't have to keep track of it for the next 5 months!)

New Smuttynose Sign!
Wednesday came and it was time to start thinking about my next brew, so I grabbed my yeast and got a yeast starter going. This next beer was going to be a big one and it was going to take lots of healthy yeast to get through it. A Belgian Golden Strong Ale was to be brewed.

And brewed it has been. It was nice to not be shivering in the garage while this brew was going on, I guess Spring has finally gotten to Rochester. Speaking of which, my boil is coming to an end so I'd better get ready to finish up. 

2.5 Pounds of Cane Sugar for this Brew!
Hopefully you've all had a great beer week and have lots of great beer related things planned for the summer. Let us know what you're looking forward too as the weather warms and trips are planned.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

UNYHA Annual Homebrew Competition

Last week, the Upstate New York Homebrewers Association (UNYHA) held their annual competition.  In fact, this was their 36th competition, which is a pretty impressive stretch if you ask me.

I decided that I should enter a few beers into the competition, it's a great way to get some top notch feedback on your beer and brewing techniques, and I'm always looking for ways to improve my beers.

With that in mind, about two weeks ago I went and got some new bottles, sanitized and filled the two beers I was entering. Both of which were in Category 16 of the BJCP style guidelines.

16-A Witbier and 16-B Belgian Pale Ale. The reasons for picking these beers was pretty simple, I felt that these were the two best beers I've made so far, and they were the two that were in kegs and ready to go!

Packed, Labeled, and Ready to Go!

I went to the bursting to help get the beers unpacked and labeled with the competition info. Each beer got a randomly generated number to ensure that the judging was done blindly, and a few styles get some additional info. (Spices used, fruit used, base beer style, etc.)

Then on Wednesday the competition got underway. I went to help steward, which is sort of a cross between a file clerk and a waiter. The best part about stewarding is being able to sit, and sometimes taste the different beers and discuss them with the judges. I felt pretty good talking about different off-flavors, styles, and brewing techniques with the judges since I'd went through our BJCP training course last spring. Plus we had free pizza, and some growlers from Rohrbachs who were awesome enough to let us use part of the brewery to conduct the competition.

Judging went on again Thursday evening, then all day Saturday before all the beers, ciders, and meads that won their respective categories were lined up and judged for best of show. Unfortunately, my beers weren't among them, but that's alright, every beer couldn't be a winner. There were 273 entries, and UNYHA has some fantastic brewers!

All-in-all, it was a great week of judging, stewarding, trying great beers, eating free pizza, and just hanging out with fellow homebrewers. It got me really excited to get a few more brews under my belt. Stay tuned for the results on my beers when I get my scoresheets back.