NHC / Homebrew Con 2016

While I currently baby a bucket of pale ale that doesn't quite have enough headroom, I realized that the best event of the year is right around the corner. If you'll be at this years National Homebrewers Conference aka Homebrew Con, let me know! I'll hopefully have a keg on club night and would love to meet up with any of you there!

Posted by Mark Forsman.

5 years of brewing

Well, five years of brewing snuck by me.

At the beginning, I focused on beer. And by that, I mean learning the patience and practice it takes. Learning with each batch what I needed to change for the next. Just simple things like, "Oh god I don't have any sanitizer." Or, "I guess glass carboys can break pretty easily."

And after a few years, there were less, "Oh shit." moments. I had poured a lot of bad beer for my friends, and had even more myself. I moved on to focusing on the process. Switching to all grain, specific hoses for specific jobs. It became 5-6 hours that required my mind to be present. But eventually, with every routine, it became routine. I was once again making bad beer. Technically great, but just fine.

So for the past bit I've focused on not just recipe creation, but refinement. And after test after test after test, I finally have a pale ale recipe. Slowly tweaking each ingredient, first the malts, then the hops, and finally the yeast. But as you probably know, with each variable, the previous needs to be re-assessed. Only through the process though, can you understand why cascade works better with x flavors and simcoe goes better with y. So with each building block, it's easier to take a half step back and take two steps forward.

What's next? Repeatability. And maybe a great saison recipe.

Posted by Mark Forsman.

Bad beer

What went wrong? Or what keeps going wrong? I’m ending up with beers that aren’t meeting the standard. The only issue now is, at what point did they turn? Have my beers always been bad or is my taste for beer changing / improving? Or is it purely a mechanical process based issue.

So, I’ll be brewing really simple / similar recipes, only changing one variable at a time. Slowing down and not taking the same shortcuts that I have in the past. EX: Rushing beers, cold crashing without regards for the blowoff star-san getting sucked in, cleaning fittings, dry yeast, not adding oxygen by shaking, just hoping the hose would do the work, recklessly adjusting recipes with no regards or planning…

Next up, blonde ale fermented with two packs of US-05, but with new kettle fittings and hit with oxygen.

Posted by Mark Forsman.

Paying for Quality

When I first put together my kegorator 3ish years ago, I dug deep and went for quality faucets. Those Perlicks weren't cheap and they served me well for the most part. But then, one started leaking.

I simply, can not risk this even happening on any piece of equipment. Living on the 3rd floor, I wouldn't just lose the beer, I would run into trouble with my downstairs neighbors and landlord. So, after a bit of research I ended up buying the recently revived Vent-Matic. Hopefully they serve me as well if not better than the Perlicks.

If this review is any indication, I made the right decision.

Posted by Mark Forsman.

Rebrewing A Porter

Just wrapped up another brew day. Finally getting the pipeline filled back up after what feels like way too long. Todays brew was a porter, the same recipe that I over-carb'd and had to dump. Not sure if I'm going to keg or bottle this batch, but either way hopefully I'll actually get to enjoy some of it.

Now I have to put everything away.

Posted by Mark Forsman.

Best By…

The best by date is a precarious one. The brewery is saying no matter what conditions this reaches you in, it will be best before XX / XXXX.

The "Bottled on" or "Canned on" date is also rough. I pass IPA's in my grocery store that sit for months. Before buying a 4 or 6 pack I always check it. Which in turn doesn't move the product and the store is unlikely to replace it with fresh product.

This comes from being burned before. Just one example: Titan, by Great Divide is a delicious, robust IPA that is a heavy hitter. Their bottles were everywhere. I didn't realize how good it was until I had it at a great bar that tapped a fresh keg quickly. I was used to a sweet malty mess. Then I started looking at the bottling dates. Most of them were 5+ months old, and it just didn't hold up.

Hops are delicate and you have to bet that distributors will forget that, retail will forget that, and the customers might even forget that. How the fuck do you brew a beer that can stand up against that.

Yet another reason to buy local beers.

Posted by Mark Forsman.