Party Time

[ Comments Off ] Posted on 04.01.11 under Brewing, Events, IPA, Oktoberfest, Stories, Tasting

I love getting ready for the Oktoberfest party!

This year, the party’s bigger than ever! I’m making and serving nine kegs!! This makes it so important to me to get the right recipe in those kegs. This year, it’s three Fisher Cats, three Yachtoberfests, and three IPAs.

Fisher Cat is easy. It barely changes from year to year, and it’s always just right. Half wheat, half base malt. Centennials to around 15 IBU. US-05. Done. That test batch is in the fermenter right now, looking cloudy as can be, and should be great!

IPA isn’t too tough, either, given that I make IPA so often. The difference is that I’m going for a kinder, gentler IPA for the masses. So I try to tone it down a bit. But overall, it’s still my IPA. Columbus for bittering and a mix of Columbus, Centennial, and Amarillo for flavor and aroma, favoring the Amarillo. A nice bitter, somewhat pungent, slightly piney and citrusy, very juicy hop treat. That tester is cold and nearly carbonated in the keg – a sample taken tonight is VERY promising.

Yachtoberfest is still the one that I’m not 100% on. For some reason I insist on doing it as a warm fermentation. First year I tried US-05, and it was fine, but not outstanding. Last year I tried WY1338 “German Ale” yeast and it was different but not totally to my liking. This year, I’ve tried WY1272 “American Ale II” yeast. It seems pretty much neutral, like I might as well save $5 and use US-05. I think for this year I’ll use the 1272, but I’m thinking that by next year I should man up and use a real Oktoberfest lager yeast. It’s not like I don’t have a fridge where I could ferment cold.

In the end, I know whatever I come up with will be well-received by the audience at Yachtoberfest. They seem to love whatever I throw their way. I’m especially pleased because the IPA was upgraded from one keg to three from last year. The Cat and Fest have always been popular, but I still keep thinking that normal people don’t like good IPA. Too many Harpoon IPA, I guess… But fortunately I keep being proven wrong. Which is good because I love making IPA. Almost as much as I love drinking IPA!

I Repeat Myself

[ 2 Comments ] Posted on 08.08.10 under Brewing, Events, Stories

In home brewing, much of the fun comes from making whatever you want whenever you want. But sometimes you have to make something a certain way, and that presents its own challenges.

With Oktoberfest coming up it is only right that there be a party, and with a party it is only right that homebrew be served. So here I am, making six batches destined to be served at a huge Oktoberfest event. The first two were made today. That gives me two more sessions, spaced two weeks apart, to make two more batches each session, and still give the last batches a full month from grain to glass prior to the big day.

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Oktoberfest at the Beach 2009

[ Comments Off ] Posted on 09.27.09 under Events

Coming up this Friday, October 2nd, from 6-9 PM at Ocean Beach in New London, CT, join me at Oktoberfest at the Beach 2009! It’s a chowder cookoff and beer fest all in one, put on by the New London Rotary club.

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Oktoberfest At The Beach

[ 1 Comment ] Posted on 10.03.08 under Events, Stories

Tonight was Oktoberfest at the Beach, at Ocean Beach in New London, CT. Wow.

Springfest was, well, in the spring. And it was a great experience for me. It was my first beer fest where I volunteered and was pouring beers for paying customers. It was great. I got to try a bunch of different beers, meet a lot of beer people, and help a bunch of thirsty people make well-informed beer decisions.

I eagerly anticipated tonight’s event, the sister event for Springfest.

As a now veteran volunteer, I scoped out the tables before the throngs arrived to determine where I could best be utilized. Most of the distributors and breweries had adequate coverage for their number of beer brands being poured. Except for one.

Once again, Long Trail was just the one guy with five beers to pour. It looked like I’d be pretty much with him the whole night, helping out and getting a free minute here and there. So I stood there with him for a bit at the start of the fest, while people made their way to the back of the tent where we were. Then it happened.

Suddenly the guy disappears, and then he runs back, tells me about a family emergency that just happened, and takes off. That leaves me there, the second time beer fest volunteer to man the notoriously insanely fast-paced Long Trail table for the night. OK. I can do this.

I did a pretty good job of keeping up for a while. Then suddenly it seemed as though everyone else was out of beer. At least that’s what the twenty people clamoring for a beer were telling me. And I was surrounded by beer festival patrons. Completely without control of the situation, but at the same time just going with the flow.

Then the greatest thing happened. There were people infiltrating the behind-the-table space that I was occupying. But they weren’t there to steal things or cause trouble. They were there to help. One girl was just handing me cups as I needed them (which was constantly). And she was moving beers from the cases and coolers up to the ice boxes on the tables. Then there were guys pouring beers one and two tables down for all the Long Trail fans in the house. It was a beautiful thing to have these people step in to help out a person in dire need (that was me). Even one of the A-B guys came over to help me.

At the end of the night, I was just pouring whatever bottle I had in front of me and offering it to anyone with a ticket. “IPA! Anyone want an IPA?…Blackbeary Wheat! Who wants a Blackberry?…” And finally, just as the security guy came to close me down at the end of the night, we were out of beer. And to think, I thought I’d get to take home some free beer.

This was an incredible experience. So different from the great night I had a half a year ago in the Spring. But still full of life and fun. I just can’t wait until the next Springfest!

Oktoberfest and Chowder Cook-Off

[ 1 Comment ] Posted on 09.06.08 under Events

It seems like just a few weeks ago that I participated in the New London Rotary Club’s fundraiser, Springfest at the Beach, at Ocean Beach in New London, CT. It was a warm wet evening, with rain pounding all night. But that didn’t stop the crowds from coming in. It was a lot of fun, among the most beer-related fun I’ve had.

Coming up soon is the twin event for Springfest, it’s Oktoberfest. Springfest had a chili cookoff, but Oktoberfest has a chowder cookoff. Either way, there is table after table of beer from across the brewery spectrum, from energy beer to Dogfish Head to Orange Creme FMB to local brews. It’s a great event, and I’m really looking forward to this upcoming fest.

It will be on October 3rd from 6-9 PM at Ocean Beach in New London, CT. If you’re in the area, you really should stop by!

Battle of the Fests

[ 2 Comments ] Posted on 06.21.08 under Events

Why is it that the BeerAdvocate American Craft Beer Fest is happening at the same time as the American Homebrewer’s Association National Homebrew Competition? Both are huge beer events, and I suspect there’s a bit of overlap in the people that are interested in these events. Like me, for example. I think both are great ideas.

The question remains: why would these two events be scheduled to compete with each other? Are the Alstrom bros trying to take down Charlie Papazian? Or did the AHA reschedule their event to interfere with the work of the Advocates? Or is it all just a big misunderstanding and coincidence that they’re both at the same time? Or maybe there isn’t as much of an overlap of interest as I think there is?

I welcome responses both in the form of wild rampant speculation spouting consipracy theories verging on the darkest depths of paranioa, and also those that come from well-informed parties with logical explanations.

My First CBC

[ 3 Comments ] Posted on 04.23.08 under Brewery In Planning, Events, Hops, IPA

CBC Header 2008
Last week I flew out to San Diego, leaving behind my expanding family, month old son, two year old son, four year old daughter, and brave brave wife for about six days. All for beer.

If you read any beer news outlets, you know that last week was the Craft Brewer’s Conference. This is the trade show for the craft brewing industry. I won’t get into the definition of a craft brewer, but let’s just say that it pretty much includes breweries the size of Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada down to your local brewpub. It’s the breweries that make the great beer that we all love.

I attended this event as a brewery in planning. That’s right. A brewery in planning. Sometime in the next few years, you’ll wake up one day and find Brainard Brewing beer on the shelf at your favorite spot to buy great beer.

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Savor: Craft Beer and Food in D.C.

[ Comments Off ] Posted on 02.29.08 under Events, News, Pairing, Tasting

Savor LogoThe Brewer’s Association is organizing a big beer and food even in Washington DC called Savor. It’s coming in a few months, May 16 and 17 to be exact. Many of the greatest brewers in the country will be there, showcasing their beers and sharing the joy of matching those beers with food.

Participating breweries include Flying Dog, Avery, Russian River, Allagash, Dogfish Head, Smuttynose, Stone, and a ton of others.

This is a huge event, with great speakers lined up too. Garrett Oliver, perhaps the biggest name in beer and food pairing, will be there. You can see Jim Koch, Sam Calagione, Randy Mosher and others speak in intimate salon sessions.

And there’s a ton of great food being served. Dozens of appetizers, soups, skewers, and sweets made to highlight a variety of beer styles are going to be there, provided by the same caterers that congress uses!

Basically, if you can make it to our nation’s capital city in the middle of May, you owe it to yourself to make it to this event. There are three sessions, one Friday night, one Saturday afternoon, and one Saturday night. It’s $85 for a session, which is a bargain to get to hobnob with today’s stars of the brewing world. Plus, it’s a great excuse to go see some great history in Washington DC’s famous museums and monuments. Not to mention the brewpubs in and around DC.