It’s been a while since I’ve updated the blog, so I figured this lazy easter morning was a good time to sit down and write a round-up. I got tickets for both of us to the National Homebrew Conference this June in Philadelphia. Since it’s right in our backyard, this seemed completely irresistible so I camped out online and grabbed two tickets as soon as I could make my way through the AHA server snafus.
This is being covered ad nauseam in forums, but this isn’t a good year for the technology folks at the AHA. The servers failed due to overwhelming hits the day the NHC tickets were released, leading to tons of people being unable to register for the conference. The Homebrew competition was completely bungled as well, with the servers locking up within 30 seconds of the opening window. I struggled for two solid hours to register slots for the competition and somehow wound up with five entries in spite of the server failures. Many people were unable to register a single beer.
I thought we were all peachy, but when time came to actually print our entry forms, I discovered that two of our beers were in the wrong category completely. When registering, we had one beer in 20A: Fruit Beer which requires a “base style”. I discovered that my entry had somehow kept the “base style” and dropped the main category completely (which will be very interesting when someone tastes a Witbier that is purple, delicious and tastes like blueberries). I don’t know if this is directly related to the server failures or if it was caused by registering via a mobile device, but repeated emails to the regional director were unanswered.
Our entry for 21A: vegetable beer was similarly screwed and is registered as a smoked beer. Outside of publishing a newsletter and some lobbying, the two major things that the AHA really does are the conference and homebrew competition. To screw up both in the same year makes for a very bad introduction to the AHA and really makes me question if I should continue paying to be a member. I’ll stop bitching for a moment and get to the beers.
14B: American IPA – Grouchen
Since I really enjoyed our first batch of Grouchen IPA/APA (killed it before we could even share any), I decided it was time to brew up another batch. We got a few comments that it was tasty but less bitter than expected. To rectify this, I upped the bittering hops by 50% and doubled the aroma hops for this batch. I’d like it to stay mellow overall, but we can still afford to push the flavor envelope a bit more on this.
Palisade is a really wonderful hop that has a near “noble” character when used for bittering. It’s higher alpha then noble hops obviously, but results in a mellow bittering flavor without the sharp attack of many other varietals. We paired this bittering hop with late additions of Palisade and Australian Galaxy hops. Honestly, I feel like this is just a very well done beer, but it might not stand out terribly well in a crowd of IPAs.
Scott from Hoppingscotts and his brother Greg joined me in brewing this one up. We killed a couple pizzas, several beers and a few hours in the cold garage. I cold crashed this guy after fermentation and force carbonated in the keg.
We will see if my bottling procedures retain enough carbonation, but I might get dinged for being a bit low on these keg-bottled beers.
20A: Fruit Beer 16A: Witbier – Bluebeard’s Wit
I wanted to come up with a witty name for this beer, but I couldn’t find much inspiration. This was supposed to be a fruit beer, but was miscatagorized under the subcategory of Witbier. I think the complete silence from the regional director means that they won’t bother putting any effort into categorizing this one properly, so this will be a complete loss.
I will post a separate entry about this at a later time, but this was based off of our Arab Spring recipe, but with a secondary fermentation on top of blueberries, sumac and ginger.
It’s completely delicious.
21A: Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer 22A: Classic Rauchbier – Kick out the Yams
Another failure of the online system, this is certainly not a classic rauchbier. Oh well. It’s still tasty, though slightly over-carbonated.
I think this beer is a big success, but it’s also slightly over-carbonated in the bottle. This is one of the biggest reasons why I would like to get away from bottle conditioning completely. I just don’t have a strong enough handle on priming to get my carbonation level to be exactly what I want over a long aging period, so I’d rather just get it dialed in perfectly and then bottle from the keg.
Imperial IPA is probably a very crowded category, but I think this is a legitimate contender.
Of all the entries, this might have the best chance of moving forward (honestly the fruit beer was probably the best contender, but lets not rehash that). I renamed this “RG Tripel” for the competition to remove any suggestion of it’s lineage as an Allagash Tripel clone (and obviously it’s a nod to Redskins QB Robert Griffin III). Gretchen is listed as the co-brewer on this one beer since she was the brewmaster for the day.
This fermented slightly warm next to our furnace and this resulted in a HUGE aroma that I hope will be very much to style when judged. Unfortunately there was a bunch of chill haze as well, so I’m going to have to jello that out of future batches. This beer has been a huge hit at the house, so brewing this has given me the confidence to try making this as an open-fermented batch next time.
So those are the five beers we entered.
I fired off one more email using the online contact form for the region I selected. I’d already sent one email using the contact form to explain my situation and see if there were any remedies available, but received no response. After writing this blog post, I decided to try one more time. (I decided to censor the entry numbers since the contest is still underway)
I tried emailing about this before sending my entries but got no response. The online system obviously didn’t work very well when registering, but two of my entries were entered under their subcategory instead of the parent specialty category. The system dropped the “Fruit” and “vegetable” entries and kept the base styles. I tried changing this online to no avail, I also wrote a note on my entries explaining this, but it seems that there’s nothing else I can do to correct this. #XXX is supposed to be 20A and is a blueberry witbier. #XXX is supposed to be 22A vegetable beer since it’s a YAM beer, but it’s in the rauchbier category. Anyway, I assume that nothing can be done about this, but I wanted to keep trying until I actually got a response from someone. Thanks for your time.
I assumed that I would again receive no response based on my previous unanswered attempt and the fact that it was Easter Sunday, but a few hours later I received a message from the regional director assuring me that he would see if there is anything that can be done.
Even if it can’t be fixed at this point, I’m much more satisfied that someone actually received my message and responded. If they do somehow get routed to the proper category, then that is just gravy on top.