Last night was Homebrew Night at the The Brew Hut. I love Homebrew Nights. Every second month, the third Thursday of the month, the Brew Hut puts on a gathering where homebrewers can bring their best (or not) in to compare and contrast with others’ finest. After a few times, you learn who makes good beer (my friend Mark) and who doesn’t. It’s not a marketing event at all, just a gathering of homebrewers where we can swap samples, stories, recipes and critiques….
I’ve developed a code. I taste a beer. If something is off, I say, hmmm, interesting. What was your fermentation temperature (or other question appropriate to the off flavor in question). If the beer is good, I’ll say so. If the brewer who gets the “interesting” presses me, I’ll tell them what I get. We also know each other, the fraternity of good brewers. We’ll use the off flavored beers as examples of what not to do, comment on them, see if our palates give us the same reading. Again, being a part of the fraternity is a great chance to develop skills at tasting.
There are great advantages to being a part of a fraternity of brewers, be it a homebrew event, a brew club or other venues where brewers can get together and evaluate each others’ wares. I learn something every time, what I’ve done right and where I have room to grow as a brewer and I hope I can teach someone to exercise their craft better. As always, I’m humbled by our craft and trade where brewers from the five-gallon homebrewer to the head brewer at Miller Coors will share secrets and recipes freely (but not all of them – there are competitions, you know). Mostly we just love good beer and love making it, so it’s natural we will talk about it.
Berliner Weisse is souring very slowly. Time to forget about it for a while. Sunday is brew day – I’m doing a split batch of classic American Pilsner using the Avangard Pilsner malt I was given to test. Half the batch will be fermented with the American Lager yeast I’ve used before, the other half with Urquell Yeast. Part of the fun of brewing is experimenting and this is to learn what yeast to use for this brew. Everything else down to the starter wort will be exactly the same, same wort, same pitch temperature, same fermentation regime. The only variable is the yeast. That makes a good experiment – I can assume differences (aside from anything potentially sanitation-related) are caused by the yeast.
And I get to try my new, shielded burner. Hopefully it won’t blow out as often or blow away from the kettle and stop the boil.