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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Do You Brew Bad Beer?

If you are a homebrewer, the answer is probably "yes".  Now don't get mad, it's the truth.  As homebrewers we just don't have the time to perfect a hobby, especially as one as fluid as brewing.  Lots of variables to consider, ingredients, temperatures, all sorts of shit.  It's cool, I'm not judging you.  Not much, anyway.

For years now, listeners of The Brewing Network have been asking for a way to send us their homebrews and get our opinons on them. We tried this a few times, but it just didn't fit well within our format.  For whatever reason, I have been thinking of a way we could start to do this again.  There are plenty of beers that need help out there, and plenty of brewers that don't have access to qualified beer judges.

Eventually, I came up with the concept of a new show that would call out for listener submissions, evaluate the beers, and offer suggestions on how to improve.  We'd pull the brewer on the air to give us details on their beer and to find out exactly what they want to know.  Think of it as an interactive BJCP score sheet.

Knowing I couldn't do this on my own, I reached out to two very nice, very good-looking guys - Mr. Brian Cooper and Mr. Lee Shephard - both of whom are BJCP judges and know what it takes to make a good beer.  Together, we form "Dr. Homebrew"!  Defender of your beer!  Or some such business.

Now to the point: we need beer.  If you have some beer that has flaws, please contact me.  It could be an off-flavor you need help pinpointing, or perhaps you can't score higher than a 35 in competitions - Dr Homebrew can help you.  Send an e-mail to jp@thebrewingnetwork and I'll get in touch with you.

This is your show, folks.  We are just here to look good.  And to drink.  Both at the same time.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

SF Beer Week Part II

One thing there is no shortage of during SF Beer Week is, of course, beer events.  Another is a real good description of what the event actually is.  It's hard to make an informed decision when all you have to go on is "Tap Takeover from Sierra Nevada".  Might as well say "Hey you - just come here.  it's easier."  In looking for something to do Monday Night, I found a great event at the World Famous 21st Amendment, in San Francisco called simply a "Library Stash Tasting".  A chance to drink some aged 21A beers in a small setting away from large crowds, farts, and large farts from crowds?  Perfect!  It was also a chance to try out my new camera: The sleek Canon 60D!

Contrary to my initial thoughts, we did NOT lick moustaches
surrounded by leather-bound books and rich mahogany ... 

Sampling beers that are almost 8 years old and still being blown away by them is a rare treat.  Too many breweries are quick to say, "Age this for 2-4 years ... trust us".  Yeah right.  I have never had a beer I was told to age be better than when it was maybe 6 months old.  But perhaps that's me ... 

Standouts from the 21A event include a 2009 Monks Blood, which gave me a nice and soft marshmellow sweetness, capped off by real nice caramel notes and a very subtle coco powder thing going on.  A hint of dry cherries came through as the beer warmed, and I was impressed right off the bat with this beer.  The 2005 Lower de Boom American Barleywine was very interesting, as I thought it had a surprising amount of hop bitterness left in there for such an old beer.  It was almost like the things was re-hopped before serving!  The bitterness contrasted the deep brown sugar tones that prevailed throughout.  Very well done, and very well cared for.  Contrasted with the 2009 LdB, which was more hop forward, less bitter and with a lighter brown sugar note.  

Strong beer tastings are pretty new for me, seeing as I don't really drink them.  Which made it even more important for me to make it to this one, because I need to get out of my comfort zone every so often and give my liver a workout.  You hear "strong beer" and you might just thing everything is going to be sweet and have a high ABV, which is true, but if you are like me and don't drink one every now and then, you forget just how much they change as the beer warms up.  After a couple of these beers, I was letting them just sit for 20 min before really jumping in because I knew they would be totally different beers. 

The close-out event was the 25th Anniversary of Celebrator Beer Magazine.  Held at the Marriott in Oakland (site of NHC 2009), this is always a great party.  Like any great event, it's not packed.  Good fests know how much room their guests need, and Tom knows where the line is between comfortable and not.  
Happy 25th, Tom!

And like that, SF Beer Week is over!  I didn't get to too many events, but the ones that I did go to were a lot of fun.  To me, that is how you handle something like this - choose carefully.  Sure, there are lots of good places to go and I'm sure there is great beer at each and every one (except for that one.  And maybe that one), but you have to survive if you are going to make it to the next one.  Pace yourself.  It's just beer.