Learn to Homebrew Day 2012

Ever thought about making your own beer? Saturday Nov 3, 2012 is a  Learn To Homebrew Day and for all of you that currently make your own beer; why not invite some friends over and share some brewing knowledge. If nothing else get some free beer out of it by making the guests buy and bring over some beers to sample while brewing. Some friends I brew with are planning to brew some beer in Brooklyn and bring some friends over that have never brewed before to learn.

This is the first year I have heard about Learn to Brew Day but apparently it was established by the American Homebrewers Association back in 1999 – Awesome! Supposedly there are some various brewing sites around the workd and checkout the Learn To Homebrew Day Page on the American Homebrewers Association website. Seems like there just about any kind of information and details you want online these days as well if you are looking to try your hand at making  beer. Contrary to popular belief it is not as hard as you thing and nothing beats the satisfaction of drinking your own, cold beer.

How to Brew
Everything You Need To Brew Beer Right the First Time”
by John Palmer

This is one book I can actually vouch for and good for both relatively new brewers as well as those who have already brewed a few batches. Be cool and try and pick up a copy from your local home brewing store. If and when you brew your beer it is ALWAYS good to talk with your local shop and or have their number handy in case things get weird while you are brewing and you need to call someone. Most brew shops are in it for the passion and connecting with other brewers and are almost always down to give good advice.

 

 

Zephyr Adventure Pics – Colorado 2012

Here are some assorted pictures from a recent hiking, biking & beer trip to Colorado offered by Zephyr Adventures. Met some great people, had a good time and drank some amazing beer! More Details on our Colorado Beer Trip

 

Fort Collins Colorado Beers

Fort Collins, Colorado sure knows how to host a beer enthusiast. I found myself visiting in early Fall on the first day of a Hiking, Biking and Beer Adventure and was thoroughly impressed. After getting setup with rental bicycles from Full Cycle, a small group of us set out on the bike paths to check out the town and visit a few breweries.

As would be the case in almost every town we visited, bike paths were readily accessible and easy to use. Not to mention the mountain bike I got had front shocks and seemed to roll almost without effort. A far cry from the single speed rusty beater I keep chained up in the basement back at home. After a few mellow paths winding through town we stopped for the first of many awesome beers that Colorado has to offer.

Funkwerks
Funkwerks has been making beer since 2009 and a few days after our visit would go on to be named GABF 2012 Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year (Funkwerks, Fort Collins, CO, Funkwerks Brewing Team). It was easy to see how they earned this as we sat out front in the sun sampling a variety of their Belgian inspired beer (pics below). They seem most well known for their Saison and I couldn’t help be reminded of Ommegang in a weird way.

Odell Brewing Company
After sampling a few brews at Funkwerks we decided to jump back on the bikes and head over to Odell Brewing Company. Odell has been around since 1989 and has the distinction of being the 2nd microbrewery in Colorado. I was blown away by the large open layout of their bar and brewing facility, the hop cone bike rack designs and of course the beer. We were a group of 9 and in a hurry so the executive decision was made to order a flight of every beer they had and share among the group. Naturally I neglected to take the detailed notes I knew I would not remember but lets just say it lived up to the Colorado reputation of quality craft beer. From there it was off for a full tour of the #3 craft brewery by volume – New Belgium Brewing.

New Belgium Brewing Company
I’ve been to my fair share of brewery tours, but New Belgium takes the cake. After as many types of samples as could be desired, we grabbed our beers and got the grand tour from Michael – one of the employee-owners. You could feel the pride and commitment from everyone we came across during the tour and I was blown away by the sheer pace of their growth. The whole story is on their website and let’s just say I found myself daydreaming of working there myself.

GABF 2012 Medal Winners – New York

GABF Medal Winners for 2012 have been announced and beers from two different New York State Breweries earned medals in four different categories. See below for the results or visit the GABF 2012 Winners page for full listings.

Living in New York City myself, I have the good fortune to experience a wide range of awesome beers from breweries all over the nation and it always feels good when you see some of your local state breweries do well. The Great American Beer Fest 2012 had so many beers from so many breweries it is almost impossible to describe. Something along the lines of 580 breweries pouring 2700 beers all converged on the Denver Convention Center for three days. Results were just announced today and the festival is sure to be buzzing tonight as participants will surely be seeking out various medal winners.

 Download/View PDF of all 2012 Medal Winners

GABF 2012 Medal Winners from New York State

Gold Medal
Barrel Select – Gold
Captain Lawrence Brewing Co. NY
American-Style Sour Ale 2012

Silver Medal
Barrel Select – FO/BB
Captain Lawrence Brewing Co. NY
Belgian-Style Lambic or Sour Ale 2012

Bronze Medal
Golden Delicious
Captain Lawrence Brewing Co. NY
Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer 2012

I had the pleasure of visiting the Captain Lawrence Brewery awhile ago, but it was before they moved into their new facility and started bottling. Head Brewer and owner gave tours to anyone around and was a very cool and laid back guy. He studied at Davis and mentioned the name ‘Captain Lawrence’ came from the street he grew up – fact of the day right there.

 

Silver Medal
Whiteface Black Diamond Stout
Great Adirondack Brewing Co. NY
Foreign-Style Stout 2012

 

 

 

I’ve never been to this brewery or Lake Placid. I was luck enough to swing by the GABF booth after the awards and try some beer and the brewery rep mentioned the Stout had medaled in previous years as well.

About the Festival:

The 2012 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) competition awarded 254 medals to some of the best commercial breweries in the United States. Presented by the Brewers Association, GABF is the largest commercial beer competition in the world and a symbol of brewing excellence

 

GABF Here I Come

The 2012 Great American Beer Festival is Oct 11-13th in Denver, CO, and unlike many more deserving beer fans, I managed to score some tickets before they sold out about 1 hour after going on-sale. Apparently there were a few issues with both the pre-sale tickets as well as the regular tickets. While I basked in the glory of securing tickets for me and my Dad for two of the three days (which literally required calling via phone the minute they went on sale and even then getting lucky), the Twitter sphere exploded with pissed of people who were unable to get tickets because the website was down or had other issues with TicketMaster.

I think this was the first year the GABF used TicketMaster, which seems to have long since secured a spot at the top of hatred mountain and didn’t seem to give much of a shit about any problems. After all, if you brokered 49,000 ticket sales in about an hour it would be pretty hard to hear anybody crying about things under the piles of money earned in transaction fees in such a short time. If anyone’s interested in crying over the spilled milk or reliving the fury that was rightfully you can read some of the comments on a GABF Denver Post article by Eric Gorski

This is going to me my first pilgrimage to the GABF and the way craft beer growth is going in the U.S. it may be the last as I am going to guess next years tickets will be both equally hard to get and much more expensive. I’ve got about a solid week until the event from the time I am writing this post and am going to do my best to get a game plan on and take it very seriously. There are going to be some incredible breweries and beers at this event and in my mind I am taking it more serious than a college entrance exam. Look for a report back sometime in the future on my experience.

Some Great American Beer Festival Facts for 2012 (from their website)

-Includes both a private judging event and a private tasting
- 2,700 beers in the festival hall – biggest selection of American Beers ever served (repeat: The biggest ever!)
-580 US breweries in the festival hall

Beer Citizen App Review

I sat down with a beer this morning and went through the BeerCitizen.com app to kick the tires and give some feedback. Beer Citizen is a new beer review that cleverly uses what they call experiential data to help review and turn people onto new beers or breweries. Since I love craft beer, just got a new iPhone5 and was about to crack my first White House Honey Porter, I figured I would give them some feedback. I kind of enjoyed this in a strange way and might make it the first in a series of stream-of-conciousness app reviews. Review Below:

Opened a beer, poured it

-even though i just launched app (although was probably running in background) the search box was populated with “sweet” from the night befores search for the Sixpoint Sweet Action.

-I have a cold beer just poured staring at me on the table, phone in my hand and my immediate impulse is to want to take a picture of it and start reviewing. Perhaps one of the four icons on home screen can scream at me to “Review a beer” or “Add a beer” or something as my eye goes straight to those instead of the green button at bottom that says ‘start reviewing’.

I click the start reviewing green button

Mabye consider giving user the shortest and fastest path possible to add a beer and pic first and then see if it is already active, in the DB somewhere etc. I mention because my attention span is fickle, riddled with years of beers and more or less a leaky damn of attention span. I want to get in and get out, but now it looks like I have to do a search or scroll through a menu or something. I’m growing weak… Then I see the button at bottom to add a beer. This is what I wanted (and maybe even one click earlier on screen before) and maybe move it up top or sex up the call to action with an icon or something so I click right away without thinking or paying attention to the search menu or category filter stuff. I’ll come back for that later if I need it.

I click the bottom Add a beer button

It is prompting me to sign in. Dammit, thought I did this last night already but could have been drunk. So I sign in again. Then I remember I had to reinstall my Twitter app cause the new iPhone5 didn’t import the old one correctly (this is true, but mainly adding to rub in the fact that I have an iPhone5 – fleeting moments of victory abound).

After login I am taken to a screen asking for the brewery

Well played sirs. As a matter of fact I am drinking the white house honey porter which indeed we homebrewed. I see this mentioned and feel legit that I can continue forward adding the beer even if it is a homebrew (high 5)

I type in the name of the beer and am mildly annoyed I have to scroll all the way down the alphabet to the “U” for United States. As an American, my ego is big and my patience is small so I mumble how it should have been jumped to the top (even if there is a Duplicate where it should be).

I check the homebrew box and pause a bit on what to do next until I see the ‘Next’ button top right. Since this is not really my recipe, I skip adding my homebrewing website and add a quick description that it is a white house honey porter recipe and nothing else. I am thinking this may muck up the DB a bit, but hey, I don’t you guys so who cares if this will need to be scrubbed, fixed or ignored – I want get my beer on!

I click next and see the photo square. I’ve already taken a pic so I add from my library. Then I wonder if I skipped something in this long winded review so I click back twice to check. All my info is remembered (high 5) and turns out I didn’t miss anything. Onward.

I make the connection that ‘Save’ and ‘Add Brewery’ are the same and click the latter.

Next screen looks earily similar to starting over and that 3 pint logo wiht the Add a beer text might be on too many screens and gets me a litte fuzzy on where I am at in the adding process since they all blend together. Then again, I am pretty spacey.  What might be nice is a mini icon of the pic I just added so I know that now I about to add some traits to my new beer.

I add the name and style and click next up top right

Since I am too lazy to find my OG and ABV info I just add a description and move on.

Now I am back at the photo screen and thinking I already did this part, but realize that before I was doing it for the brewery and not the beer. Maybe consider putting the beer stuff first and then the brewery for those with crappy attention spans? not a deal breaker.

I pause to look at the chick out my window on the fire escape painting something and realize she is neither naked nor hot. Moving on.

I add another photo (same one). more DB stuff for some poor moderator to weed out later.  I also think to myself who would have an actual picture to add for a brewery from the earlier step. I mean, maybe if you were at a brewery, but in that case I would check in on foursquare, order beer then review the beers withouth much thought to the brewery itself. Of course if I was one of the 2K plus breweries I would really want to get my marketing on and would definitely add all of my shit.

I click Add beer

Awww mann. I see an awesome screen with the pic icon and title (like I was hoping to see earlier). Then I see a green ‘review this beer button’ and think to myself, isn’t that what I am already doing…did I miss something. I click this green button (mostly for your guys sake as I think there is some review stuff that is rather obvious below) and it takes me into the review process. Part of me wonders if I missed something on the screen prior, but I can’t go back and if I hit the X Cancel button it warns me I may loose the whole deal. No biggie, I am now reviewing and moving on.

The 4 part look,smell,taste,mouthfeel review/slider part you guys knocked out of the park so I won’t bother with mentioning as it is awesome and perfect as is.

I am a littel confused at the end with the photo/check in thing but at this point realize I am sitting at home on a Sunday morning anways and already patting myself on the back for typing this much productive stuff instead of fucking off on reddit or nytimes website. This will eradicate all guilt of eating cheesy poofs and watching NFL all day (self high 5)

I click save review. job well done.

Colorado Beer Vacation

The three words go together so well – Colorado Beer Vacation. In my case they go together especially well since the beer gods literally rained down from the sky and rewarded me with an actual beer vacation in Colorado. Did I deserve it – doubtful. Am I really going – yes, I leave Sunday. Let me explain:

Some months back, whilst almost certainly dodging more important tasks, I found myself bouncing around the internet and dreaming about the Great American Beer Festival (GABF). This festival is held each year in Denver, and my home brewing friends and I had toyed around with the idea of attending. Somehow I stumbled across a contest to win a free Active Colorado Beer Tour that involves hiking, biking, and touring some of Colorado’s local brewpubs over the course of 5 days. Best of all, the final day culminated with entrance to the GABF. Long story short, I somehow managed to win this contest and have been rubbing it in the faces of all my beer geek friends ever since. For the record I also entered a separate contest that day involving some short form beer poetry, and felt much stronger about the odds of winning. Apparently I was in a daydream-of-beer-enter-contest type of mood that day.

For those of you with the means, you can pay to do this tour in the future and here are some details:

Zephyr Adventures, Draft Magazine, New Belgium Brewing, Untappd and World Class Beer partnered together to offer two free passes to attend this trip. One of the lucky bastards that ended up winning is typing this post. The trip starts out each day with a hike or bike through various landscapes around Colorado and ends up each day at a different brewpub. (Pause for the collective Sighs of anyone reading this). Breweries include Walnut Brewery, New Belgium Brewery, Coopersmith’s Pub & Brewing, Estes Park Brewery, and Wynkoop Brewery. Unfortunately the GABF portion of the tour got scratched due to a Ticketmaster related sell out catastrophe. Good news is I managed to buy tickets for two days at the GABF on my own dime the instant they went on sale and will be attending day 2 and 3.

Want to take your own Colorado Beer Adventure - details if you are interested in going sometime in the future.

UPDATED:

The trips was great – more details in this post