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2008 Homebrew Resolutions

Over the past week (and actually starting during the Xmas vacation), I have done alot of thinking about how my homebrewing obsession has progressed for the past few years and where I want it to go during this year. I find it useful to pen a couple broad goals to help direct my brewing activities, and 2008 will not be different. What I have come up with for this year’s goals are listed below in order of priority.

  1. Use hops on hand and don’t build more inventory

    I have a lot of hops out in my freezer (10+ lb). I have been buying them by the pound when I could, and now that the “hop crisis” is here, my hoarding ways should be of benefit. Many of the varieties I have wanted to use for some time, but have not – like Summit, Mt. Rainier, and Pacific Gem – and the scarcity of old standbys like Cascade and Columbus is the perfect excuse to get to reformulating and coming up with new recipes. I recently ordered 1 lb of Bravo and 1 lb of Vanguard hops from Hopsdirect.com, however I expect that will be my last hop purchase for quite a while.

  2. Use more oak!!

    I really like the woody and oakey flavor I’ve gotten in some of my past brews. The oak vanilla porter is one of my favorites, but I really haven’t done much oak in the past year (2007). I think part of the reason was the fear that oaking my beers would require they be entered in the “wood aged beer” category for competitions, which typically has all kinds of crap and is difficult to win anything. I also have used most of my oak in “bourbon barrel” type beers, where the oak sat in a bourbon solution for months before adding it. I have concluded that direct oak and bourbon additions to the secondary is more effective than bourbon-soaked oak cubes or chips… and more accurate.

  3. Prototype “the rig”

    I am getting really close to having all the basic equipment I desire for my 20-gallon brew rig. I currently lack a 28 gallon mash tun, but once that investment is behind me, I should be able to start putting the layout together and start experimenting with options. I am not talking about all the electronics and computer control – that would require me to set up the rig indoors, which I cannot do at our current residence. Electronics aside – the piping, minor components, and basic control (like sparge level float control) should be relatively easy. I also hope to work out a rig design that allows volume downgrading to 10 or 5 gallon batches without significant rework. While 20 gallon batches are great – the yeast has to come from somewhere, and buying 3-4 vials is a little prohibitive. The thought of brewing 20 gallon experimental batches also makes me nervous – that is a lot of beer to send down the drain if a recipe sucks.

  4. Brew some new Belgians

    Last year I brewed 2 award-winning Belgians, my “Travelers & Tourists” (2nd) and another Abbey Brown (3rd). The “Heretic” Strong Dark did not place, but I didn’t explicitly formulate it to fit a category and it got high marks. The Ginger Belgian Pale I didn’t even bother entering. With all the new Belgian sugar products that HDYB now carries (light, amber and dark syrup as well as light and dark sugar), I need to start working on some new recipes to try them out. I actually ordered the Vanguard hops to use as a Hallertauer replacement in the Belgians this coming year.

  5. Brew some lagers

    In 2006 I brewed two lager beers, a Maibock and an Octoberfest, to commemorate both Donna and my birthdays. Those beers turned out really well (although my lack of a lagering fridge still continues to be a problem), and I do need to push myself to brew more than just ales. Maybe I can get a doppelbock or a hearty lager beer brewed sometime this year…

  6. Do more cooperative brews

    I like having company while I brew. Having another set of hands and eyes around makes the time more enjoyable, and interesting things happen when a batch is split and is fermented by different people with different ideas and techniques – a Peach American Brown Ale and an Oaked Horizon Bitter come immediately to mind. My problems are finding individuals where their brewing practices / philosophies are aligned with mine, identifying a style where the collaboration spirit really kicks in, and then scheduling the brew day so both parties can participate. My favorite (and frequently best) recipes have been those where I worked with someone else to put together the hop and malt bill.

So there it is, in all its glory… my brewing roadmap for the year. Its not a detailed turn-by-turn type map, but it certainly highlights some key activities I want to get done. At DuPont we assemble something like this every year to guide our work, although we call them “COTs” (Critical Operating Tasks). Guess I can’t seem to leave that whole mentality at the office, but it has served me well there too.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. January 10, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    Ambitious!

  1. January 13, 2008 at 12:37 pm
  2. April 14, 2008 at 8:57 pm

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