Welcome 2012! While personally 2011 was a pretty rocky year, I can’t ignore the fact that it was also the year that I got back into homebrewing, and learned more about this magical process of brewing beer than I would have ever imagined. My total for 2011 came in at 75 gallons brewed. I only repeated a few recipes, so it came out to be a total of 12 different styles brewed. I only bottled my first batch, and quickly moved to kegging. The year began with partial boils on the stovetop, then to full boils on the stovetop (my apologizes to my wife for the slight damage to the stove grates), and now to full boils outside. I also made my switch to all-grain brewing about halfway through the year. 2011 also marked the first time I entered a BJCP-sanctioned homebrew contest. While the marks I received on my Weizenbock were nothing to get excited about (avg came to 25), the great feedback on the judging sheets was so helpful. For example, one of the comments was that it needed more body for that style. So I did my research and learned that your mash temperature can make a big difference on the body. Up until then, I had just been taking the mash temperature given to me by my Beersmith software. When I brewed my Bust a Nut Brown Ale recently (sorry, never made a post about this one…) I mashed at 158-159… much higher than my usual 152. The difference was incredible. A lower ABV than most of my previous beers, but with a great mouthfeel. This is what I love about this hobby. There are so many little variables you can tweak and experiment with.
So what’s in store for 2012? I have lots of ideas, so we’ll have to see how many get implemented. High on my list is moving to 10 gallon batches. I’ve acquired kegs to be transformed into keggles, and right now am looking into the Blichmann Top Tier system as my brew structure. Also, I have a window unit air conditioner in my garage that I’m planning to use when building a larger fermentation chamber in the basement. I want to move to using yeast starters this year, and finally building out my keezer. As far as beers go, I NEED to do an IPA since I’ve been addicted to them recently. However, my creative side has me itching to try some classic english style ales, but using Belgian yeast strains. Also, thanks to some input from the head brewer at Lunar Brewing Company in Villa Park, IL, I will be trying a variation on the Raspberry Cream Ale I did this fall. And by far my favorite plan for 2012, my wife and I will be heading to Seattle for the AHA conference in June! Like I said, my list is long, and that’s only a few things I have floating around in my head!
Well I hope you had a great New Year, full of great craft and home brews! Cheers!