"I work like I drink, alone! Or with a monkey watching me." - Krusty the Clown

Friday, May 20, 2011

Homebrew Club May 17 Meeting

Northside Homebrew Club

May 17, 2011 Meeting

Mark, John, Jason, Brian and Larry attended.  Carlos was our honored out of town guest.

Some "hunters sausage," not quite Landjaeger but pretty good.

As it's Maifest season, Jason put together a plate of German coldcuts and made some warm German potato salad. Larry brought some homemade rye bread and mustard. John also brought some good brown Belgian chips.

 We started by comparing Jason and Brian's different lagers.  Jason did an all-grain and used Bohemian lager yeast.  Brian's was more of a German Helles, but with some hops.  Both lagers have aged well and have distinct lager flavors.  Some of the strong lager aroma in Jason's has mellowed (although it still suffers from chill haze).  Brian's lager pours and looks great, and is still a subtly Hoppy Helles, a nice personal interpretation on that beer. 
Next we had some "Procrastinator Bock," a Maibock style lager Jason made back in January.  Malty and sweet, it has the kick of a proper Maibock.   A good kit beer.

Two Saisons, one straw colored, one amber.
 We compared John and Alison's extract Saison with Jason's all-grain version, both from the same issue of Zymurgy.

Jason's is very pale, almost straw colored, with a slight tang.  Not much head on it, except when poured into a full glass.  Sour and alcoholy.

John and Alison's is a little less tart, fuller body, nicer head, and more amber in color.  Both good, but different, examples of the style.

(As these came from the same recipe, I wonder about the difference in color.)

For "dessert" we had a cherry Belgian ale from New Glarus that Mark brought.  This is an excellent fruit beer.  Reading the label it seems that we would need up to 25 lbs of cherries per 5 gallon batch of homebrew to make a similar beer. 
A very cherry New Glarus ale.  Apparently 25 lbs of cherries go into every 5 gallon batch!
Something for us to aspire to, and hopefully we can do something like this later this summer for a good winter/Christmas beer.

Gherkins und Senf
We finished with some New Glarus Wheat that John brought.  A great exmample of a proper Bavarian style wheat, a little cloudy, with nice banana flavor. 

We discussed growing hops.  (Jason's are coming in nicely; John is worried about his not sprouting yet.)  We discussed names for the club again.  Brian suggesting Chicago (or Northside) Keglers, in reference to both beer and bowling.  (I like the idea, but my wife reminded me that Kegel is also the name of a certain type of exercise we might not want to inadvertently reference.) We also discussed Mark's current beer, an ale, which should be ready soon.

The next meeting should be Tuesday June 21.  I will be out of town that day; Brian says he would like to host on a weekend.  How about we do it Friday or Saturday, June 24 or 25?  We could also think about having the meeting at one of the pubs, taverns, bowling alleys, or distillers we mentioned at past meetings.

I expect to have a weissbier to share.    Brewed it May 4, bottled it May18.  I also expect to do another ale this month.  And hopefully Mark will have an ale, and I think John and Alison are working on something as well.

Until next month!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Homebrew Club April 19 Meeting

Alison and John hosted this month's meeting at their home in Evanston.   Thank you John and Alison!  Erik brought some home made pretzels, while the hosts provided sausage and cheese and a variety of  German mustards (Dusseldorfer and Lowensenf).  New member Larry brought some chocolate caramels, and grapefruit and vodka sorbet, for dessert.  We also welcomed new member Mark.

Alison and John shared their Saison, brewed from a recipe from the March 2011 issue of Zymurgy.   It's a very good representative saison, good color, nice white head, effervescent, with just a hint of sour.   Jason brought both a Roasted IPA and a Bohemian Lager.  The IPA tastes a bit like a brown ale with some hops hiding underneath.  The lager is a little cloudy (not surprising as it's an all-grain with no clarifying agents).  It's also a little funky.  (Says Jason - I think it's just a strong lager taste that might mellow, but I think there's also the chance that it was oxidized, or fermented too warm.  But when it's cold, it tastes like a strong German lager.) 

We also discussed getting hops rhizomes for planting, options for building a hops trellis, converting freezers into lagering units, and maybe going in together on some kegging gear. 

We still don't have a name.  We need a name by the end of the next meeting.  Suggestions?

In addition to home-brews, we shared a great variety of craft beers, including:

Short's (out of Bellaire, MI.) Huma-Lupa-Licious, a nice hoppy IPA,

and Good Humans, a very good brown ale. 

Alison shared a Half Acre Crusch, a variation of kölsch style beer.  After reading some reviews at Beer Advocate, I understand better what Half Acre was doing with this beer - I think it's a good light ale, but different than what I often expect from a kölsch. 

Other beers we sampled included Shiner Black Lager, Rogue Chocolate Stout, and Arcadia Flying High Rye.   All excellent; I particularly liked the rye beer, and the chocolate stout would make an excellent digestiv. 

We discussed visiting a brewery for our next meeting (or maybe between meetings?), maybe going to Haymarket, Revolution, the Local Option bar, or even Erik's distiller friend's space. 

Finally, we decided that we should meet the Third Tuesday of every month, making the next meeting May 17.  I'm happy to host unless someone else would like to take a turn.  We should have a few beers to taste test and compare, including lagers (from Brian and Jason), saisons (from Alison and Jason), and other beers that are in production.

As this is traditionally Maifest season, if there is enough interest I'll prepare some German food for the meeting.  I even have some Bock beer that's been quietly lagering . . .