Showing posts with label national homebrew competition. Show all posts
Showing posts with label national homebrew competition. Show all posts

Monday, April 23, 2012

What's In a Name?

Like most homebrewers, I am sure, I like to give my beers names, and I like messing around with fonts to create labels - not really having much of an artistic talent for drawing. As well as naming my own beers, I have chosen the name for a couple of commercial beers.

When we brewed a Tmavé at Devils Backbone I came up with the name "Morana" as she is the Slavic goddess of winter and death, an effigy of whom is burnt each spring to mark the end of winter. More recently another local brewery, Blue Mountain, had a spot of bother with the labelling authorities here about a beer they wanted to call "Chocolate Orange Bourbon Porter" but were told the name is misleading. To solve their problem they turned to the power of social media, and asked their fans on Facebook to come up with the name, my entry won. The name I chose was "Isabel", named for the Princess Imperial of Brazil, which is the world's leading producer of oranges and cocoa and Isabel herself was descended from the royal House of Bourbon.

With my own beers, I like to give them names which are linked to either the style or the place where they originated, or some link to the ingredients. My Charlottenst?dter Pils is named in part after the town I live in, but with the French "ville" replaced with the German "stadt" as it is a German style Pilsner, which I will be bottling tomorrow as it has been in the lagering tank for 35 days now. When I eventually make a Czech version I will have to come up with an alternative to ?arlotovicky Le?ák, because our new house is about 15 miles outside of town. Our new address is, officially at least, in Gordonsville, and one of the meanings of the name Gordon is "large fortification", so my Czech lager could be called "Pevnost" which means "fortress".

Talking about German beers, I am awaiting my score sheet for the only beer I entered in this year's National Homebrew Competition, an altbier called Cobbler's in honour of the first Altbier I ever had, from the Schumacher brewery. I am kind of nerovus about the score, as altbier is such a difficult beer style to find over here, other than Uerige that is, which I haven't seen around for a while.

Anyway, just a few random, and likely unconnected thoughts, having been inspired by Boak and Bailey's post today about naming their beers.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Backwards and Forwards

Saturday was a brew day for me, indeed it was the last brew day of this year. Next weekend Mrs V and I head south again to South Carolina to drop our wee Cairn terrier off at Mrs V's parents, and then the following Friday we fly to France for Christmas. I brewed my strong ale for next Thanksgiving, changing tack a little bit by brewing a Belgian style strong dark ale, which the 3787 Trappist High Gravity yeast is fermenting away nicely at the moment.

I have brewed 21 beers this year, with an average starting gravity of 1.053, an average IBU rating of 32 and an average ABV of 5.1%, not including the beers I currently have in various carboys. I guess if that shows anything, other than perhaps an unhealthy interest in statistics, it is that generally I like beers that are balanced and drinkable, but you knew that already.

This year I also made the jump from brewing with extract and specialty grains to brewing all grain, and while I enjoy the process more than before, I am not going to make claims that all grain is naturally superior to extract and grains. I have also had some success in competitions, picking up 2 golds and an Honorable Mention in regional competitions, the latest gold coming just this weekend at the Palmetto State Brewers Open, where Samoset 2010 went one better than the 2009 version.

As for the beers themselves, I think brewing the 1933 Barclay Perkins Milk Stout as part of the International Homebrew Project was the most technically challenging. The 3 way wheat beer experiment where I used the same ingredients to brew 3 batches on the same day and then ferment with different yeast strains was also very interesting, if a little hectic. My favourite beer to drink was my Fuggold Bitter, a clean Ordinary Bitter weighing in at just 3.3% ABV, which took gold at the Dominion Cup back in August.

Not one to rest on my laurels, I am putting together my brewing calendar for 2012 already. Apart from my annual strong beers, I am planning to make next year a study in beers below 12° Plato, or 1.048. I am convinced that the truly great brewers are the ones making session beers which are packed with flavour and drinkability. I might never reach those heights, but as the much maligned Gerard Houllier once commented, "if you aim for the stars you might just land on the moon".

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Plotting Season

It's that time of year. The sun shines more often than not, the trees are in bud and pollen fills the air like a yellowy green fug. Yes it's spring, the time of year when I give thanks for being short sighted and needing glasses, thus staving off some of the delights of hay fever.

It is also around this time of the year that I start thinking about the homebrew competitions I intend to enter in the coming months, and try to create a brewing schedule to fit around them. This year, for the first time, I entered the National Homebrew Competition. I only entered the one beer, Red Coat Export India Porter, which took gold in the Porter category at last year's Virginia Beer Blitz.

This version is slightly different from the winning batch, being 5.4% abv rather than 5.9%, and about 50 IBUs, which is a little less than the last batch, but maintains the same BU:GU ratio. With the beer entered in the NHC I am hoping just not to get slaughtered in the feedback forms, anything beyond that is a bonus.

In the regional competitions, I am pretty sure that I will just enter the same as last year, which would mean brewing beers for the Dominion Cup and Beer Blitz here in Virginia, and the Palmetto State Brewers Open in South Carolina.

Over the coming months I have a load of projects I want to complete, including a triumvirate of wheat beers based on my LimeLight recipe. LimeLight has become my most commonly brewed beer, and has proven to be well received by those that have tried it. My three way project is to make 3 batches over a weekend, with exactly the same ingredients except for the yeast. The yeast strains will be the classic 3944 Belgian Wit, 3068 Weihenstephan and 1010 American Wheat.

As a result of brewing a historical recreation of milk stout for the International Homebrew Project, I have found myself wanting to brew more historical beers, one that took my particular interest was a 1921 Pale Ale from Barclay Perkins. My interest was piqued by the use of Saaz hops alongside Goldings. Also coming up will be a a single hopped Old Ale, a blackberry lambic, a mild, and perhaps a peated pale ale.

There is a big homebrew project on the very near horizon, something that has been in the works since November, but I will tell you all about it when the brewday has been done.....

Beyond January

Dry January is over, but my beer fast continues. Well, it continues until Friday. As a general rule I only drink at the weekend, thus my win...