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Fall Classic Results

Last Saturday, I spent the day as head steward for the OBC’s Fall Classic. I handed off a whole lot of beer for people to drink and didn’t really get to try any myself….until the Best of Show round. I quietly sipped from every bottle I cleared away as the judges made their eliminations.

Some of the beers were pretty good. I remember the taste of solid amber and IPA entries. There were at least three, maybe five, that shouldn’t have been there at all; too fizzy, bad aftertaste, things like that. I spit them out–which feels weird at first but why drink something that tastes bad?

In the end, I stood by while the judges mulled over five beverages, debating which they should choose and I quietly sampled the entries as they debated. In the end, two were cut: one American Pale Ale (which was excellent) and a blonde ale (which was also excellent and took the Honorable Mention.)

The results are pretty astounding. A cider taking 3rd? It was like drinking a really good apple though. Not too crisp, not too sweet: just a really solid drink that could be had with almost anything.

Second place surprised me the most, though. I do not like cucumbers and I detest hot spices in my beer. But although the nose had a strong vegetal scent, the flavors worked together perfectly. I can’t explain it. That beer should have been something I hated and I didn’t. It’s the kind of thing I’d want to share because of the alchemy that makes a beer work, sometimes, even when it shouldn’t.

The title of first place porter doesn’t tell you enough: it was a raspberry porter that tasted like razor shavings of chocolate had been meshed with tart syrup and blended into awesome. It really deserved the victory and is a beer I would have stolen from the judges if I could have. It would’ve been like Prometheus taking fire to share with humanity, only with beer and I would’ve just shared it with my girlfriend.

But, you know. Close enough.

7pm The Secretary

The OBC is having a meeting tonight and because I am the Secretary, it trumps my usual writing responsibilities. Tonight’s meeting is at the pioneering Hair of the Dog brewery, founded by a former member of the OBC and always a treat.

I am given a glass of something that, when I’m told the name, I am unable to understand. It’s a guest tap and it smells lovely; bourbon and maple wrapped together in a fantastic helix. But the ale is flat and the beer tastes thin, watery. I really want to like this mystery beer but I can’t.

I try a variety of house ales that don’t suit me for various reasons, until I get a Fred from the Wood that’s been infused with a peach lambic which is excellent.

I’ve been the Secretary for the OBC for two years and it’s been one of the more rewarding volunteer opportunities I’ve had. I’ve gotten to write, I’ve been compelled to listen, I’ve had the chance to edit, I’ve learned information that has helped me brew a better beer and most importantly, I’ve had a reason to connect with other homebrewers. This is pretty awesome.  I’ve gotten to meet people and connect with people, which isn’t the easiest thing for me to do.

However, I also feel that I’ve put in my time. It’s been a great thing to help people remember past meetings or learn from the educational opportunities but I am tired of this obligation and wish to put it aside for a little while. I want to not have to worry about this for a little while. Someone else can take over and do the things I do, while I go an recoup some of the time I’ve put into this, into something else.

Trust but verify, y’know

While I fully support having a sense of humor, especially dark humor, I hope the people at Fargo Beer Co. will forgive me for hoping to see the brewing process of their Wood Chipper ale, before trying it.

Just, you know, given the pedigree of the name and all….

Also the OBC’s Fall Classic is happening this Saturday and I’ll be helping out with running that event. Or judging. Or something; I’m not entirely sure what I’ve volunteered to do but I’m sure it’ll be fun!

7pm: GIGO

My usual blog usurped by OBC business, I got lost (foolishly) on my way to Portland U-Brew, who were kind enough to open their doors to us on an off night, so we could hold a board meeting. At the counter, a stranger advises me: “The fresh IPA,” and who am I to resist?

PUB IPAIt’s damn good. My notes suggest tangerine candy and when I ask about it, I’m told that Galaxy hops were added. I’ve not used Galaxy hops before so now I feel like I need to be on a mission to find and use them. Seriously. No matter what, I recommend this ale and believe people should drink it.

The board meeting begins. Two and a half hours. Democracies move slowly but I realize that they move at a human pace.

What are you willing to do?

I haven’t had much experience in leadership positions that involve a democratic rule but what little I’ve had in what is a small, non-profit organization has taught me a lot:

Things move at the pace that people want them to move. So the logical question comes up: What have I done lately to move things in the Republic?

I write, so I write. I do have a message, even through a beer blog, that I try and transmit, about sharing and being decent through the glories of beer.

Of course, I have not sat at Wall Street, raised my voice against the war(s), shed blood for my country. I do the best I can to demonstrate decency, quietly and I realize this may not be enough in the days to come.

Still, I do it anyway because you often get what you give. People who fail to participate in the world often find that they get a culture who does not care about them in return. Change moves at the speed of people, specifically the people willing to put their energy-despite having lives of their own that they need to run-towards that change. Every little bit helps, I hope.

Brewing at Hopworks

One of the benefits of working on the board for the OBC is that I have opportunities to brew in new environments with people who really know what they’re doing. As a homebrewer, I can’t tell you how cool it is to have the chance to work in a professional setting and with experts.

It’s pretty rad, as they used to say. Especially after having to pour out ten gallons of beer.

So when Hopworks offered to let us use their nano system to brew on and the board decided the respected Fred Eckhardt as the leader of the brew, I jumped at the opportunity to assist. Since Fred, respected as he is, hasn’t brewed in quite some time and so it fell to younger people to lift forty-eight pounds of malt and over forty gallons of water to make the style Fred had selected, a maibock.

Leading the way was Assistant Brewer Amelia, who was just smashing through the whole thing, answering questions, kidding around, keeping things on track and generally being very upbeat, especially when confronted with concerns about ‘are we doing this right?’ Thanks to her, we pretty much were.

Plus, I got to learn some new things about how all grain brewing works, how important recirculation is, what a Vorlauf pump does; all kinds of cool stuff.

I got to hold onto devices that I didn’t understand. The photo on the right shows a mechanism that allowed us to aerate the beer as it was pumped into a fermenter. I have no idea what it’s called.

Still, pretty cool, huh?

Normally, this is the part where I’d post the recipe, if I had one, so other people could see what we did.

This was the recipe basis:

5.5 lbs Lager Malt
5.5 lbs Munich Malt
1.0 lbs Light Carmel/Crystal Malt

7.5-9.6 AAU’s of bittering hops
.75 oz flavor hops
.5 oz aroma hops

Wyeast 2206 Bavarian Lager

This is what actually happened:

Easier to read version, here.

The beer should be ready in about a month! I’ll let you know how it is or if there’s time, let you know when it’ll be served so you can try it yourself.