Monday, September 29, 2008

Brewing class day one

The brew class at Cabrillo College filled up quick. I limited the number of students that would be accepted to the class to 16 in order for everyone to be able to get some hands-on experience. 20 students signed up to attend, so unfortunately 4 went on standby but didn't get a chance to get in the class this time.

Students hard at work.

The first class was devoted to the importance of sanitation, basic extract brewing and a couple different ways of chilling the wort, an ice bath and an immersion chiller. All went well for the most part as we got our wort up and boiling and started adding the hops. As you can see by the pictures, we have an excellent facility to use for the brewing process. We are on campus in the horticulture room. This room is expansive and the ceiling is two stories high which leave plenty of room for heat and vapors to dissipate. Also, the room has a floor drain and all of the tables and work benches are stainless steel. Very nice.

Reviewing my notes.

As the day progressed the students got the chance to taste samples of the styles of beer that we were brewing that day. I brought in some German wheat beer and a German rye beer so that the students could anticipate the flavors of their classroom brew in the next weeks.

Taking notes about brewing.
In the next class we will work on the math required to calculate our malt bill and hop bitterness along with packaging the beer from the first class and making a yeast starter for the next class.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Beer tasting school

Talking about the finer things in life 'Beer'!

Here I am teaching the fine art of beer appreciation and how to define the subtle aromas and flavors of some classic beer styles on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Aptos, California. Nine students signed up to participate in beer tasting and they were enthusiastic and engaged. I came prepared with nine different beers including: Pilsner Urquell, Duvel Belgian golden, Erdinger S. wheat, Boon geuze, Roggenbier, Mad River pale ale, Moylan's dry stout, Schlenkerla rauchbier and a strong lager, Samichlaus.

Dave Helps define a classic Pilsener.

After getting everyone signed in I launched right into a brief history of ancient brewing, going back to the days of the Sumerians, Babylonians and Egyptians. Then discussed some more recent beer history including the American beer Renaissance (micro brew business) brought on by the changes in the alcohol laws the Pres. Jimmy Carter made allowing homebrewing again. Then each beer was generally defined by origin and region while we dissected its smells and tastes. Several of the beers were of from Germany
and a couple from Belgium. Everyone seemed satisfied with the selection and a lot of questions and dialog were generated by the introduction of the unique styles. Many of the students had never experienced these styles of beer.

Dave reviews his notes.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Fair brewing

The Santa Cruz County Fair is in full swing this week and part of the festivities is the Microbrew beer sampling booth and Homebrew exhibit.

The brew rig
Different members of the Zymurgeeks are taking turns throughout the week demonstrating the techniques of making beer at home. Brewing beer, answering questions, promoting homebrewing are the tasks assigned to the Zymurgeek club each night.
I took my turn at the boil pots on Thursday night and with the assistance of my brewing partner made a double IPA using 25 lbs. of grain and 1.25 lbs. of hops. Our original gravity came to 1.070 with IBU's well over 100. In addition to fielding questions I was pushing for people to sign up for my Homebrewing classes at Cabrillo College.

Brewer Michelle

Firehouse Brewing was on hand next to our booth dispensing four very quaffable beers. For the price of $4 one could sample 4oz. of each beer on tap starting with a thirst quenching American wheat and slightly bitter American pale ale. Also pouring was a very good Oktoberfest that was on the sweet side and finally an IPA with 11% Rye malt that I couldn't stop drinking.

Brewers dress in funny pants!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Fair Results

Well, out of the 6 beers that I entered in the brewing competition at the Santa Cruz County Fair I only received a decent score on one, that was the Roggenbier.
I was happy the rye beer made it to the 'best of show' judging and eventually came out 2nd of the top three beers but dissapointed that my pale ale, IPA and hefeweizen all score poorly (27, 23, and 26 out of 50) for various reasons that I concur with. My Dry Stout scored well with an overall 35 out of 50 and my ESB did well with a 38 out of 50. I was confident in the ESB as it was the same recipe as previous years that scored well. I barely got the Roggenbier into the competition. It was kegged the night before it had to be submitted and bottled the next day. Fortunately, two weeks in the bottle before being tasted helped.

Pitchable yeast
from a prior brew.

It still had a pronounced banana aroma that I didn't like but the phenolic flavors were large and the rye added an increased spiciness to the flavor. A very quaffable beverage in my opinion. Judge Mark Ristow gave me a score of 44 and said "Damn good beer!"
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