November Meeting at the Acosta’s

For the 3rd month in a row, the hosts for our monthly meeting had never hosted a meeting before. In fact, in this case, they had only ever been to one meeting before. No matter. The November meeting at Paco and Andrew Acosta’s was a complete success. They can’t take all the credit — Paco’s wife/Andrew’s mother helped with the food. But the evening went as smoothly as if the Acostas had been old hands at this.

And, as has been the case for the past few months, the hosts’ own brews turned out to be some of the evening’s stars. It’s becoming another tradition that our newest members are some of our best, and most knowledgeable, brewers. So much for the idea that brewers join a club to learn from the old veterans. We old vets have much to learn from the newbies.

November saw the return of Geoff, lost to the club for the past year. Lame excuses were made about home remodeling and such, as if we are supposed to allow family obligations to get in the way of making and judging beer. But it seems that he is back and hopefully for good this time.

We also learned a dark secret about 3 of the attendees. It seems that Mara, Nick, and Bobby have been meeting clandestinely to swap bottles and sample commercial beers under the code name “Unicorns”. Those of us with daughters cannot hear that word without thinking of big-eyed, horse-like things which fart rainbows. There will be repercussions.

Anyway, tasting notes. Uniformly excellent beers, across the board. Some were truly outstanding. Back in the day, we’d bring skunkers in and ask for advice on how to improve them. Nobody seems to make skunkers anymore. Or, at least, they don’t need our advice on fixing them. A great night for tasting.

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October Meeting at Burgher Burger’s Burg

We continued our run of “virgin hosts” in October with a meeting at Robert Burger’s home in Branford. Bob may be on the far eastern fringe of our club footprint, but he has the cutest kids on the planet and he serves candied bacon at meetings. In other words, we’ll be back. Often.

An unusual number of newbies attended, mostly invited by Nurse. Once upon a time, newbies would be new brewers who had done a couple of extract-based kits on the stovetop. That’s certainly where I was when I joined the group. Now, they arrive as all-grain brewers with lots of experience and excellent brews to judge. The tasting notes which follow bear this out.

Bob, himself, showed us all up with an outstanding raspberry Berliner weisse made via acid malt and sour mash. Just a fantastic beer. We forgave him for making the rest of us look bad only because he sent us home with samples from his keg.

Handy Andy was close behind with a straight Berliner and a dark mild, both just fantastic beers. The mild, in particular, drew many envious comments. How do you get this much flavor in a small beer?

Candied bacon, raspberry sour, dark mild, and newbies: all in all, a fantastic meeting!

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Local(ish) upcoming events

They are still looking for judges for NERHBC, 10/24 in Nashua. I judged this comp last year. Very well run. Good food.

And also for LIBME’s 3rd Annual, 11/21 in Bayshore. If Bayshore seems like a long drive, be aware that the plan is to get the whole thing done in one flight, leaving you the rest of the day free to explore.

And LIBME is hosting a MEAD EXAM on 2/20 in Patchogue. This is the only mead exam to be held in this area in the next year or two, so jump on it.

SNERHC 2015 Results

SNERHC 2015 was an amazing success. The decision to co-host with the Krausen Commandos was the best ever. Despite a major change in guidelines and an inauspicious start (we were stranded outside until someone came to unlock the gate at Two Roads), we judged 400 entries — 40 more than last year — in 45 minutes LESS time. We were cleaned up and out the door by 6:30pm.

Results may be found here: SNERHC 2015 Results

Scores and scoresheets are also available. Go to the SNERHC page and log in to see your scores.

Enormous thanks to all involved: the judges, the stewards, the cellar staff, and the sponsors.

See you all next year!

September Meeting at Mara’s

The September meeting was held at Mara’s house in Bridgeport, her first time hosting our motley crew. Awesome meeting: an excellent spread, some newbie members, and some fantastic brews to judge. We’ll definitely have to go back there.

Before the meeting proper, we got a tour of the brewery. Jealously factor: extreme. Induction heating units, automated keg washer, and, best of all, a homemade glycol-chilled, stainless steel fermenter. Outrageous.

Chatter during the meeting was uncharacteristically brewing-related and geeky. Even the newest members seem to possess extremely detailed knowledge about micro-organism strains, enzyme levels, hop varieties, and all kinds of other things we oldsters never knew. I’m not saying we used to just dump and stir back in the day. But I’ll admit that these kids are intimidating.

Not least because their beers are so damn good. Herewith, the tasting notes:

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July Meeting — Mary Izett Speaks!

The July meeting at Dan Mages’ house featured a special guest presentation by Mary Izett, ably supported by Chris Cuzme, who drove all the way up from Brooklyn to be with us.

Many of you know Mary and Chris as brewers, judges, and competition organizers from the NYC area. The ran the NYC region of the National Homebrew Competition First Round this year. In fact, they did it so well that I wrote a long post about how enjoyable it was. (I would post a link to the article here if I wasn’t just a WordPress numnutz. You can search for it in the archives.) They host and produce the Fuhmentaboudit! podcast. Chris was, until recently, the head brewer at the 508 gastropub. Chris and Mary recently formed Cuzett Libations to gypsy brew all kinds of fermented liquids.

More to the point, Mary just published a book: Speed Brewing: Techniques and Recipes for Fast-Fermenting Beers, Ciders, Meads, and More. This isn’t just about brewing beer faster, although that’s part of it. The book also explores a number of other fermented beverages — kombucha, kefir, sodas, teas, short meads, etc. — all of which can be brewed very quickly and drunk fresh in a week or two. These are all low-alcohol beverages and mostly quite thirst-quenching. Very tempting as we head into the hot part of summer.

Mary spoke about the book and the motivations behind it, giving us insight into what kinds of beverages work well and why you might want to brew them. She brought samples of 3 different recipes: a fermented jasmine tea, a short mead, and a cider. All of them had been brewed within the last 2 – 3 weeks and none had more than 5% abv. All were delicious and flavorful. Based on these samples, I am guessing that this book will be a big hit.

Chris also shared with us Cuzett Libations’ “Revenge Of The Emu”, a heavily-hopped Kolsch-like beer. That was also extremely yummy.

So a huge Yahoos thank you to Mary and Chris for the long trip, the excellent talk, and the delicious samples!

Of course, we also did our regular Yahoos thing and judged some homebrew. Tasting notes are below. Colin was the clear winner for the evening, clocking a 42 for a cider and a 40 for an American Strong.

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June Meeting – 2015 Club Competition

As usual, the June meeting was our in-house club competition, The Chief Paleface And Ale Competition. And, as usual, John Watson took Best Of Show. But he had some serious competition this year, with outstanding entries by a number of brewers. Mara’s Brett Saison and Dan’s Dry-Hopped Strong Saison were right behind John’s Helles. It was very close.

Judging requires a full stomach. So we enjoyed a pot-luck dinner along with all the outstanding homebrews. Yahoos sure can cook. An excellent night all around.

Well, not quite. We got some sad news that night. It was member Dan Cole’s last Yahoos meeting. He’s leaving our fair state for a new job in Virginia. Dan, we wish you well, but we’ll miss you!

Tasting notes below. Sorry, I know they are a mess. I indicated brewers’ names and which moved on to the BOS round as best I could.

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May 2015 Meeting at Dan’s

It finally happened. I finally managed to attend a meeting hosted by Dan “Top Chef” Cole. Those of you who missed it really missed out. As always, Dan’s cooking was outstanding: steamed mussels, porchetta, tomato bisque — we chowed down like starving hyenas. Thank you, Dan!

Fewer homebrews to judge than at the last several meetings. But almost all were excellent. We actually got into a heated discussion about giving scores over 40 and how often that should happen. If any beer deserves a score that high, it is Mara’s Brett Saison — citrusy, spicy, super dry, Brett not overwhelming, very refreshing. Perfect complement to the mussels and porchetta. (So, of course, we had to chow down again.)

Another heated discussion concerned the new style guidelines and how we will combine them into categories for SNERHC. There are simply too many new categories to give 3 ribbons for each. We can combine some based on our guesses about how many entries each will attract. Or we can use one of the “new styles sorted into old categories” lists out of the appendix of the new guidelines.

We came to no conclusions, and this topic will keep coming up. If you haven’t yet downloaded the new style guidelines, I urge you to do so now ( Start reading through them. They are long, and it’s not that many months until SNERHC. You’ll need to be familiar with them before you judge.

In that same vein, we need to choose a set of guidelines for the upcoming in-house competition on June 10. Check the announcements mailing list for the official ruling on that.

Tasting notes:

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