Frankly speaking

With the brew review freshly occupying my memory and abdominal quarters, I feel compelled to talk a little further about beer, namely Friday night’s meeting with my homebrew club, MASH, and the incredible time that I have at these meetings.

This Friday night, there were 16 members present at the meeting and it presents the perfect forum to inform the group of one’s present and future endeavors in homebrewing, recipe swapping, problem solving and general camaraderie. Brewery tours and beerfests are announced as well as news of new beers available in stores and upcoming group roadtrips. The meetings are from 7 to 10pm but about 8:30, things start loosening up.

The last several meetings had contests of homebrews based on a category, where members would submit samples of brews based on a style. The members then judge the beer and the top three or four vote winners are awarded ribbons. I’ve been part of three of these contests, Lawnmower beers, stouts, and Friday’s Category 23 beers (beers that don’t conform to any other style.) There were 8 entrants and all 26 of us were presented with 8 glasses of an ounce or two of each contender’s beer. It was quite difficult to choose.

I found it odd that 16 people as a whole, went quiet while sampling and voting, as if we were all taking a final exam. “Time’s up! Pencils down, please!” There was a chocolate stout, raspberry ale and various fruit beers. Winners were announced and ribbons were awarded and pictures were taken and chests were puffed out briefly.

Additional homebrew samples were doled out and each brewer told his story of the style and trials of getting the beer to fruition. The most common comment randomly heard was, “Give me your recipe.” Off on many sides, people are discussing hop additions, kegging techniques, yeast types and future plans.

And at the meeting, there was an opening of a vintage 2009 bomber of 3 Floyds Dark Lord Imperial stout. I relished the ounce or two that I was served. Unbelievable. A complex, heady, almost chewable black beer that made me think of breakfast eaten in a black ski mask.

I learn so much from those meetings. I’ve met some folks who have been brewing beer for years and some who are just starting out. I’ve gleaned many ideas for my own future use in homebrewing and have learned where I have gone wrong. My next venture into all-grain brewing has been softened by the advice I’ve received. Homebrewing and a club to lean on and rely on is so rewarding in so many ways.

Back on the home front, my chocolate milk stout ( which got stuck during initial fermentation) is now slowly becoming beer. With an initial gravity of 1.074, we’re now sitting at 1.030 and the advice is to wait and hope for 1.023 or thereabouts. So we wait. I can’t stand it. So far, it’s been 6 weeks. Initial tastings left me with the taste of a super chocolatey and roasty stout, the likes of which only come from science fiction brewing. In this case, time is both an enemy and a friend.

The weather is slowly breaking here in the midwest. Temps in the 40s elevate hopes of future outdoor activities and motorcycle ridings. It will be the time to finally finish the kegerator project begun last fall and venture into brewing all-grain beer out in the Manly Garage. Beforehand however, it may weeks to clean up a space to do the deed. Hmm. I have 4 sons. I could conceivably invite them to a garage cleaning party with beer and pizza as a payment afterwards. Maybe even some chocolatey homebrew for the lot.

Through all of this waiting, the Suzuki Intruder waits as well. Jeeze, I hate winter.

Thanks a lot for stopping by when you can.

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