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There are fewer than 90 spots left in the 2016 BrewUnited Challenge! American Beers only have about five spots left!
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A Bitter SMaSHing - a BrewUnited Challenge Misadventure

Posted by gruuk on 8/16/2016 at 10:48:58 AM

 
I thoroughly enjoyed the first BrewUnited challenge, so I was happy to see there was 2016 edition and joined almost right away! I quickly picked what style I was going to brew in each category, though the one I was most excited about was the SMaSH as it restricted options even more and would force me to try new-to-me methods to brew something resembling a Strong Bitter.

Disclaimer: I don't pretend to brew well, my goal is to have fun brewing something I would like and learn a few thing along the way.

The Ingredients:
I wanted to use a base malt I already had (or was going to have for one of the other BU entries); the ones that would probably fit the bill flavor-wise would be Maris Otter and Golden Promise, but color-wise Vienna and Munich II would be a lot more practical. I went with Maris Otter - color be damned, this one tastes best.

Regarding hops, I thought of going either with the familiar Fuggles or East Kent Goldings, but I had a 1oz bag of UK Progress that was pleading to be used; since my batches are usually 1.75 gallons for 2 gallon buckets these days, 1oz would do (barely - this would become an issue).

While I do have a stir plate and have used liquid yeast a few times, I like dry yeast because I'm lazy. Until recently for any English-type beer I would simply have gone with the predictable S-04, but recently I've been giving Danstar Windsor a shot and have been happy with it. Windsor it is, then.

Extras: gypsum, whirlfloc, clarity ferm and gelatin.

Mash & Boil
If all I did now is do a typical mash and boil, I get something pretty close to a British Golden Ale - not what I want. I could lightly toast that Maris Otter to change the color and flavor profile, but since I would have to use only MO processed that way, I was concerned...
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Very cool and innovative. Good luck

posted by anonymous on 8/23/2016 at 02:31:03 PM






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Tags for this post: SMaSH, BrewUnited, Challenge, strong, bitter, beer, brewing

My BrewUnited Challenge Roggenbier

Posted by jay.thomas62 on 8/16/2016 at 10:05:21 AM

 
The BrewUnited Challenge is truly a challenge. This year’s restrictions and limitations seem to be more difficult than last year’s Challenge. Research, research and more research are needed to come ahead on this one. What is the target beer and what is traditionally used to make that style of beer?

In this case, I decided to make a Roggenbier - having never made that style before. Which makes it somewhat easier (at least in my own mind). Starting with a clean slate and no preconceived notions of how or what the ingredients are needed. I started out reading the Beer Judge Certification Program 2015 Style Guidelines. Then after that, I got online to read up on that style at http://www.germanbeerinstitute.com/styles.html. However that somewhat conflicted with what I read online from so called homebrew experts on what traditional ingredients are used. So I decided to go with a no wheat version. Right or wrong, I was restricted on the number of grains I could use.

Unfortunately I was unable to find a true Roggenbier at my local liquor stores and was not able to make assumptions on what grain bill may work from the taste and aroma of the beer. Ultimately I came up with this.

Share this recipe on reddit
...
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Tags for this post: roggenbier, rye, beer, BrewUnited, challenge, video

Challenge Accepted: Brewing for the Brew United Competition

Posted by Matt on 8/04/2016 at 11:55:39 AM

 
I'm competitive. I'm the guy who isn't satisfied unless something is difficult, the sick sort of person who enjoys video games like Dark Souls and books like Infinite Jest. Last year, I had the privilege of organizing a site for the Brew United competition, and due to some life changes I wasn't able to swing it this year. The competition deserves better, and while it was a tough decision to make, I decided I couldn't give the competition what it is due. 

The silver lining is that this year I'm able to enter the BrewUnited Competition as a participant, and I rapidly discovered that my typical process for recipe formulation is definitely not conducive to this sort of challenge. 

My Recipe Process

If you've seen my Building Behemoth blog posts over at To Brew a Beer, you;ll get a glimpse into my needlessly complicated and time consuming recipe formulation process. 

That's right. That is not an isolated incident. I literally do it for every single beer that I brew. 

I'm a data person, and looking at beers I enjoy/NHC winners and working backwards is how I approach my brewing. Unfortunately, due to the ingredient restrictions in the competition, that wasn't exactly working. Here's an example:



As a side note, I'd like to point out the 2014 NHC winner. IBUs seem crazy, and I even without any boil off it seems like a lot of hops for bittering with such a high alpha acid. If anyone has a correction
...
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Tags for this post: Brew United, Brew United Competition, Oatmeal Stout, Stout, Vienna, Vienna Lager, American Lager, Toasting Oats, Toast, Toasting

Help Promote the BrewUnited Challenge, and win a Javelin PRO Digital Thermometer!

Posted by homebrewdad on 7/26/2016 at 12:51:08 AM

 
2016 BrewUnited Challenge Logo


In 2015, it took twenty-seven days for the BrewUnited Challenge to meet our entry cap of three hundred beers. This year, we hit that same number in seventeen days. However, things have slowed down just a bit - as of right now, we're right at three hundred fifty entries out of our five hundred beer cap, with fewer than five SMaSH entries left.

Now, I fully understand how these things work; people tend to enter right as entries begin to be accepted, things trickle off, then there is one more big push right at the entry deadline. I have no doubt that we will easily make our five hundred beer limit... but to tell the honest truth, I'm a bit impatient. I'm tired of waiting, and I'd like to be able to approach further new sponsors with the fact that we're already full.

Well, my impatience is a good thing for you! To help get us over the hump, I've decided to appeal to your need for cool brewing equipment - namely, I am happy to announce a fun little contest where BrewUnited will give away a Javelin PRO digital thermometer (link is to my review of the regular Javelin).

The point of the contest, of course, is to get the word out about this year's BrewUnited Challenge. The following items will get you entered into the contest: ...
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Tags for this post: BrewUnited, challenge, contest, 2016, javelin pro, thermometer

My Son Went to Germany... and All I Got Was This Awesome Drinkware

Posted by homebrewdad on 7/21/2016 at 12:52:00 AM

 
Six weeks ago, my eighteen year old son, Caleb, got to undertake the opportunity of a lifetime. His seventeen year old girlfriend's father works for Mercedes, and had been sent to Germany for a year and a half. The entire family was moving over there for a full year; to soften the blow, they offered to use their sky miles to allow Caleb to purchase a ticket at a ridiculously discounted rate, and also offered to allow him to stay with them for most of the summer. While he was understandably upset at his girlfriend being gone for a year, the trip was an offer he couldn't refuse.

Luckily, Caleb had taken four years of German in an International Baccalaureate high school program, so it didn't him too long to be able to converse pretty comfortably with the locals. The seven hour time difference meant that we didn't get to talk to him much, but the magic of Facebook messaging allowed us to stay in touch pretty well. He got to really experience the culture, and spent time not only in Germany, but in Austria, Belgium, and France.

Of course, being eighteen meant that one slice of culture that he got to experience was the legal use of alcohol. Now, he has tasted pretty much every beer that I've brewed, plus a nice selection of commercial beers - but it's always just been a taste. There was apparently an Irish pub that the family visited on a regular basis, where...
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Tags for this post: Germany, son, stein, horn, drinking, beer, ale

Caramel/Vanilla/Hazelnut Old Ale, or, Some Really Unique Beer Feedback

Posted by homebrewdad on 7/18/2016 at 12:19:07 AM

 
Last year, I brewed a caramel malt heavy old ale for a Christmas beer exchange. The idea was to just blow up the caramel aspect of this beer - over twenty percent of my grain bill (nearly four total pounds) came from British crystal malt, and I reduced about six quarts of my first runnings to about a quart of syrup.

Sadly, it didn't turn out quite like I had imagined, largely because my yeast (WLP037 that I had re-harvested several times over) drifted on me quite a bit. Rather than acting like a dry English yeast, it presented more as a phenolic-heavy Belgian strain (albeit still super dry - my FG was 1.009, from an OG of 1.076). The beer wasn't bad, just not what I had in mind.

The exchange went well, my beer was received reasonably well (missed target or not); all in all, it was a fairly unremarkable story. However, this beer did spawn a couple of experiments, once of which promoted today's blog post.

You see, as I was planning this beer, my non-beer drinking wife decided to get involved. She was thumbing through a homebrewing catalog, and discovered the various flavoring extracts one could buy. She has steadfastly refused to ever even sample my beers, but she decided that day that a caramel/vanilla/hazelnut beer might be delicious. As is the case with many homebrewers, I keep hoping to share my passion with my spouse... so if she was interested in what...
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Tags for this post: old ale, vanilla, hazelnut, beer, ale, homebrew

2016 BrewUnited Challenge Prize Information

Posted by homebrewdad on 7/12/2016 at 12:29:06 PM

 
As you are likely aware by now, the 2016 BrewUnited Challenge is now open for entries. As of this posting, we've been open for about a week. Last year, we filled our 300 entry cap in 27 days. This year, we raised that cap to 500 entries - and are already halfway there.

Of course, a huge reason for that is due to the amazing freaking prizes that we give away in this competition. Last year, we gave away nearly $4700 worth of prizes, as we continued to recruit sponsors right up until judging in October. This year, we already have nearly $6900 worth of prizes donated, and have multiple other sponsors that have agreed to join (but haven't said exactly what they plan to donate). Suffice it to say that we will certainly surpass last year's prize totals - if not blow them away entirely.

For starters, we will once again be awarding some outstanding custom medals to various winners. We're not talking about cheapo medallions with some little coin inserted on them - we're talking about die cast, designed especially for this competition, with the winner's name, category, and place engraved on the back. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place for every single style category will take home a medal. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd for each Division will take home a medal. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd for the SMaSH category will take home a medal. And of course, the overall Best of Show winner will...
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Tags for this post: prize, prizes, competition, sponsor, sponsors, medals, winner, challenge

Announcing the 2016 BrewUnited Challenge!

Posted by homebrewdad on 6/22/2016 at 12:44:33 AM

 
After teasing this a bit, the time has come to officially announce the 2016 BrewUnited Challenge. Yes, we are holding our BJCP certified competition again this year, and plan for it to be bigger and better! Right now, it looks like Divisional judging will be October 14th - 16th, with the overall Best of Show on the 28th or 29th. These dates will be firm by the time we start accepting entries on July 1st.




EDIT: the 2016 BrewUnited Challenge is now open for entries!!!



Our basic format will remain the same - there will be three Divisions, each of which will be judged in a different city. Each Division will consist of several BJCP style categories; each category will award first, second, and third place. The winner of each category (and, potentially, the second place beer for each) will advance to the Division Best of Show. The top three beers for the Division will receive fabulous prizes, and the top beer for each will advance to the overall Best of Show to compete for our grand prize package.

As of the writing of this post, we have eleven sponsors who have already agreed to return for this year's Challenge; I fully expect that number to grow drastically before judging happens.

Without a doubt, the ultra-popular Homebrew Hero awards are returning for 2016. This is a lifetime achievement type award - if you won a cape in last year's Challenge, you will not be eligible to
...
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Tags for this post: 2016, BrewUnited, Challenge, competition, brewing, homebrewing

White Labs Tasting - (Indian) Pale Ales

Posted by zVulture on 6/09/2016 at 08:58:09 PM

 

With these beers being heavy on the hop and non-yeast derived flavor side, I will be doing a lot more comparisons against each of the beers. Unfortunately they were out of WLP001 so I didn't have as much a baseline. Random note, I avoid reading the description of the yeasts before I write the review down so there can be repeated recommendations (ex: WLP041).

Indian Pale Ale

WLP008 East Coast Ale Yeast

White Labs Description - Our "Brewer Patriot" strain can be used to reproduce many of the American versions of classic beer styles. Similar neutral character of WLP001, but less attenuation, less accentuation of hop bitterness, slightly less flocculation, and a little tartness. Very clean and low esters. Great yeast for golden, blonde, honey, pales and German alt style ales.
Aroma: Clean crisp aroma of the hops bringing out that acidic citrus scent really well
Taste: On the dryer side but not enough to really bite though that might be from any crystal malts or higher mash temps to keep it less fermentable. Definitely fits the 'Juicy' ideal that east coast beers have while west coast is a lot dryer and more dank. The bitterness sticks out though because of it as it stands out from the smoother mouthfeel and very light sweetness.
Personal Ideas: I would use this in a 30 minute IPA that doesn't add any bittering hops. Just keep it all to really fruity and flavorful ones with 30-20-10 additions. This beer...
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Tags for this post: IPA, Indian Pale Ale, Pale Ale, White Labs, Yeast

An Appeal for Awesomeness From the Community

Posted by homebrewdad on 6/09/2016 at 10:52:33 AM

 
Today, I'm going to shift gears a bit from my normal beer-related musings, and turn for a bit to a more serious topic.

I admit it. I tend to get caught up in the day to day struggles of life, find myself mired down in my latest set of problems big and small, and sometimes lose sight of the forest for the trees. Yes, my workload is heavy. Yes, my life can be stressful. Yes, life can sometimes be harder than I would like for it to be.

But all in all, I have a good life. I have a wonderful, big family. I get to brew beer (and ramble on in internet posts about doing so), coach little league baseball, play various online games. By and large, I have my health, as does everyone in my family. All too often, I take that for granted.

My wife has a friend who has just been rudely informed that not everyone is that lucky. This lady has an eight year old son named Andrew that just had his entire life turned upside down. One day, he was a normal kid - a kid of the exact same age as one of my sons - and the next, he was in the hospital, facing an unimaginably scary diagnosis.

Andrew had a fairly large, aggressive tumor in his brain. At first, doctors felt it was benign - though still in need of immediate attention, because brain tumor - but the long term...
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Tags for this post: Andrew, Fambrough, cancer, well wishes, brain, tumor

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Batch Size (gallons)5.5
Efficiency75%
Recipe typeAll Grain
Style15D. Roggenbier (German Rye Beer)
Original Gravity1.056
Final Gravity1.014
ABV5.51% (basic)   /   5.51% (advanced)       [what's this?]