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2008 In Review

For the past few years I’ve made my final yearly post a “year in review” entry, and I think this year I should continue that tradition. I find it helpful to reflect on what I wanted to do, what I actually did, and use that comparison to set some targets for the following year. I’ll start with a quick tally of the batches that were made:

2008 Brewing Total: 195 gallons
Total that went home with others: 55 gallons

Batches summary:

  • #104 – 10 gal Homegrown Pale 2007
  • #105 – 10 gal Amarillo Pale
  • #106 – 10 gal Welder’s Slag
  • #107 – 10 gal Belgian Genuine Draft (Singel)
  • #108 – 10 gal Donnafest Marzen
  • #109 – 20 gal FC&S American Wheat
  • #110 – 10 gal Travelers & Tourists Dubbel (HDYB demo)
  • #111 – 10 gal Memorial Porter
  • #112 – 20 gal HDG Pale Ale
  • #113 – 10 gal Big Brown Woodie American Brown
  • #114 – 10 gal Abbey Brown
  • #115 – 10 gal Amarillo Pale (HDYB demo)
  • #116 – 10 gal Twilight Porter
  • #117 – 20 gal FC&S Imperial Amber (Homegrown)
  • #118 – 15 gal Choking Sun Stout
  • #119 – 10 gal English-ish Ale

It is worth revisiting my 2008 brewing resolutions that I made earlier in the year, and see how well I kept to them:

  • "Use hops on hand / don’t buy more" – I did really well on this resolution. There were a few times where I bought a couple ounces because I had nothing that would serve as a substitute, but mostly I just used what I had. I probably spent less than $15 total the entire year for hops. Of course it helped that Joe and Marlana gave me a pound of Fuggles back in May for doing their homebrew demo…
  • "Use more oak" – OK. I did pretty poor on this one. I made one batch of beer that I then oaked 5 gallons of (the American Brown, which became the “Big Brown Woodie”)… but in general I failed on this resolution. There is always next year.
  • "Prototype the rig" – This one is interesting. I originally thought I’d be able to prototype the structural pieces of the sculpture and wouldn’t worry about the electronics, but it turned out very different. Donna’s had miserable luck getting welding time, so we basically did nothing related to the structure. Instead I’ve put alot of effort towards the electronics and VB components and made alot of progress. One piece of the rig, the grant and pump skid control box, is essentially done and functional – I even used the grant to assist when brewing this year’s batch of Choking Sun Stout. I have a significant amount left to do in the way of electronics, structure, and programming but I feel like much of the basic building blocks are there. 2009 should be a good year to really hammer on this goal. I also completed collecting my 20 gallon vessels, so I have everything I need to brew 20 gallon batches without splitting them into 2 10 gallon mash tuns.
  • "Brew some new belgians" – In a word – Fail. I brewed one new belgian, my Belgian Genuine Draft singel, which was really tasty – but nothing new in the way of strong darks, goldens, or other belgian-style beers. I hope to do better next year.
  • "Brew some lagers" – Blech. Pretty much a fail, although I did brew one 10 gallon batch of Oktoberfest, which was really tasty and made my wife very happy (its her b-day beer). I realized this year that I don’t much care for lagers, except for a few specific styles: maibock, marzen, and some doppelbocks… which certainly limits what I would brew in the way of lagers. Maybe I just haven’t experienced “good” lagers, but most of the ones I have tried contain a strong sulphur component that I don’t care for.
  • "Do more cooperative brews" – Big success. I did two all-grain brewing demos at How Do You Brew and three 20 gallon batches with friends. I also had my neighbor come down when I brewed the Memorial Porter, just to introduce him to homebrewing. Brewing with other people makes the experience fly by, makes it more enjoyable, and I hope that I can talk some folks into doing batches with me next year too.

So I essentially met half of the goals I set for 2008, and in the grand scheme of things 50% isn’t such a bad percentage. I am not sure that many folks out there manage to hold to every single one (or even half) of their New Year’s resolutions.

2009 should be an interesting year. I’m thinking of starting a new homebrewing club (as opposed to First State Brewers, which is more of a homebrew drinking club than one interested in talking shop, improving their craft, or being part of the larger homebrewing community) with a few like-minded homebrewers, but we’ll have to see if I have time and energy to put towards that endeavor. I am also hoping to get significantly closer to making BrewzNET a functional reality rather than an exercise in "can I really pull this off"… I now know I have the skills and have the basic building blocks drafted up. What remains is pulling it all together into a cohesive whole. I also hope to brew a few new beers along the way, since I was pretty focused on repeating house recipes this year. I will have to work on a set of 2009 resolutions in a future post…

Hope everyone had a good 2008, and we’ll see you in the new year!!

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