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BJCP Study Group: Category 19 (and/or Russian Imperial Stouts)

by Rob Friesel

Filed under “Best Laid Plans” and/or “Improvising” — our ninth study group session, intended for Category 19 (and coordinated by yours truly) got re-purposed, more or less at the last minute, for a… very special training session:

Judging the 2017 GMM Style Challenge beers: 20C. Imperial Stout

Category 19 ...and Russian Imperial Stouts Continue reading →

Twenty Malts

by Rob Friesel

At the confluence of my homebrewing and BJCP study group work, I found that I needed to deepen my knowledge of raw ingredients. Because hops are de rigueur pretty much all the time, I feel like I’ve gotten fairly well-acquainted with a number of varietals. And I spent most of my 2016 brew sessions experimenting with different yeast strains, so I was doing at least OK there. But try as I might, I haven’t been able to take malts and “make them stick”.

It seemed to me that there was only one way to really solve this problem.

To do what I always do when I want to know more about a subject: to go deep, and take notes.

just a selection of the malts samples Continue reading →

Homebrew #40: Imposter Syndrome (The Mead Day Mead)

by Rob Friesel

Filed under: How do I get myself into these things? It started when the local homebrew club reached out to me for help setting up an event for AHA’s Mead Day. The general idea was to do a club event that talked a bit about mead, demonstrated mead making, and then a little Q&A. It sounded like another club member was going to do the demo. But then that club member had to back out. I guess as the 2017 Vermont Mead Maker of the Year, it was my duty (!?!?) to step up and see that the event went on. Maybe everyone missed the memo where I’d only (personally) made mead one time. Which maybe explains why I went on to call this particular batch Imposter Syndrome.

Imposter Syndrome Continue reading →

dream.20170913: the closet

by Rob Friesel

For the past two weeks, you have been at a creative writing retreat at your alma mater, St. Mary’s College of Maryland. The time spent was very productive. New stories written. Old ones revised. New friends made. Old connections reunited. But the time has come to depart.

As you close your first suitcase and return to the closet to grab more of your things, you notice that it seems to be… larger than before? And you don’t really recognize all of the items as your possessions. You shrug; you must have picked up at least a couple of small gifts and mementos over the past two weeks. You just hadn’t thought it to be that many.

You turn around with an armload of your things to dump them into the second, open suitcase — except that you notice the first suitcase has some open and spilled its contents. And those contents don’t match your memory of what went into them in the first place. You dump your armload into the second suitcase and jam everything back into the first. You try to zip it shut but it’s difficult.

You turn back around to the closet again only to find that it has grown larger still. Taller. Wider. Deeper shelves. And while the shelves are not full, they are still more cluttered. Clothing. Trinkets. Bottles (empty and full). Piles of paper and notebooks. Some of them you recognize. Some are merely familiar. Other things are strange, unfamiliar, unwelcome. You go to grab more, feeling an urgent need to leave but feeling an equally urgent need not to leave anything of value behind. You grab items selectively, but quickly.

A sinking feeling washes over you as, once again, you turn to the suitcases and find them open and overflowing with unrecognizable objects.

BJCP Study Group Intermission: My First Time Judging

by Rob Friesel

As part of my quest to become a BJCP certified beer judge, I signed up to steward the 2017 Champlain Valley Fair Homebrew Competition on August 26, 2017. I hadn’t seen a competition in situ before, and I believe it would be useful to see how the events are organized and run. Further, I could meet a few judges, perhaps get some advice, and build some goodwill.

Little did I know that I would get the opportunity to help judge a flight myself.

There I am. Judging someone's beer. Continue reading →

BJCP Study Group: Category 12

by Rob Friesel

For better or worse, our eighth study session (for Category 12) was feeling a little bit… improv. A little bit fast and loose. Or as Erin put it:

Really great discussions and tastings at tonight’s BJCP Study Group. Sort of a weird, random, catch-all category (Pale Commonwealth Beer), punctuated by a finale of “…and this is an ESB and it’s very different…”

Category 12 (or equivalent) beers Continue reading →

Homebrew #39: Calypsonian

by Rob Friesel

Where do we begin when we tell the story of this single hop Calypso IPL? The obvious place would be “at the beginning” — but I’m not sure where that is. Originally, Calypso was a candidate for my “Prosody” single hop project (see also: Homebrew #33: Prosody (El Dorado)). But I had this nagging feeling that I needed to do more lager beers. Our “Experimental Vermont Brew Crew” Facebook group launched into a thread about which “new” and/or “interesting” hops we should explore (sound familiar?); Calypso was one of two that survived the discussion to become a planned brew day. A couple of us converged around the idea of using it for an IPL. Hence… Calypsonian.

Calypsonian Continue reading →

Homebrew #41: Medusa Pale Ale

by Rob Friesel

Blame Aaron. A Facebook thread talking through which “new” and/or “interesting” hops to showcase in an up-coming brew spawned not one but two big brew days. On the one hand: Calypso; and on the other… Humulus lupulus var. neomexicanus — the wild North American varietal otherwise known as Medusa.

Medusa APA Continue reading →

Homebrew #38: Count Roggen

by Rob Friesel

Long time readers of these beer-brewing chronicles will nod in understanding when I say that I like brewing with rye. I like the spicy flavor. I like how it typically dries out a beer. And as a (mostly) BIAB brewer, I haven’t had to fuss with its notorious lautering issues. When I had yeast left over from Codependent Droid and Awkward Gingham, I wondered… What else could I ferment with that 3068? Naturally, the answer was to make a Roggenbier, thus Count Roggen!

Count Roggen Continue reading →