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A 12-Pack of My Favorite Beers from Homebrew Con 2017

Posted by chino_brews on 6/19/2017 at 12:17:28 PM

 
What's up from the bleary-eyed land that called post-Homebrew Con! I was super excited to have Homebrew Con in my hometown of Minneapolis-St. Paul (the Twin Cities), and I feel like it was a smashing success!

There will be so much written about Homebrew Con 2017 over the next couple weeks. But we were there for the beer, right? So I wanted to share some notes about my favorite beers (as far as I can remember) that I had during the five days of festivities.

  1. KC Biermeisters (Tim (?) Butler): Schwarzbier at Club Night. While I like a nice dark lager now and then, Schwarzbier is not really the style I go ga-ga over. For me this was hands-down the best beer I had during the HomebrewCon week. I got a chance to talk to Mr. Butler later about the recipe, and I almost wish I would have stopped drinking at that point so I could fully remember the small details we talked about.
  2.  Northern Brewer Fermentation Brigade (Kat or Cat): Casked Northern English Brown Ale on hand pump at Club Night. I happened to be hanging out in the classroom at Northern Brewer doing some last-minute brew scheduling and calculations on my laptop when Kat was brewing this beer. So I was sure to seek it out. Northern Brewer Fermentation Brigade's booth was solid across the whole lineup, but the two cask ales I tried were outstanding. This brown ale was right on point, creamy and full despite its low abv, and with sufficient character from malt and hops to hold my interest for multiple pints. You can hate the new ownership, but the employees at Northern Brewer just love to brew -- and brew a lot!
  3.  Nordeast Brewer’s Alliance (Matt Johnson): Coffee-Randalled Barrel-aged Stout at Club Night. The NBA is my club. Because I am biased, I won’t get into how solid I feel like the lineup was across the board for the Social Club and Club Night. Nor about how cool our booth looked. I’m not sure I had a chance to try this stout at our pre-HBC club tasting. However, if I did taste it it was not on coffee yet. I heard numerous complimentary statements about this beer, so nice job Matt! Personally, I loved it, and can't wait to hit Matt up for details at our next meeting.
  4.  Prairie Homebrewers Companions (Tom Roan and Nancy Bowser): Sunflower Saison at Club Night. I kept going back for this one. Tom and Nancy are widely recognized as truly outstanding home brewers, so I was happy to have a chance to try a couple of their beers. The Sunflower Saison was one I kept going back to. The base saison hit all the right notes without overextending towards any flavor profile, and they somehow managed to make the sunflower unmistakably a part of the beer’s taste and yet subtle and not overpowering. This is the beer I want to drink in the bleachers at every baseball game.
  5. Minnesota Home Brewers Association (Pat McNeely): Coconut Vanilla Milk Stout at Social Club. Was it coconut-ty? Check. Could I taste the vanilla? Check. Milk Stout? Solid. Must be a cloying mess, right? Nope. The brewer managed to meld all three flavors with equal prominence without turning this stout into a dessert and without being cloying in any way. Eminently drinkable. Would love to learn the secret. I’ll bet it has a lot to do with the water chemistry.
  6. Amey Patwardhan (Lincoln Lagers): Mango Coconut Barleywine at the Kickout Party. I met Amey at his club’s booth on Club Night, and then he saw me at the Kickout Party and offered me some of this barleywine. Apparently this beer started ended around 1.008 and clocked in over 14% abv, but the body was rich and alcohol heat was so smoothed out as to be almost absent. The aroma was all Coppertone and canned mango, and it tasted like a mango piña colada. This beer could be dangerous. I forgot to ask him how long he had cellared it. Nailed it.
  7.  Fair State Cooperative: Pahlay Ahlay Pale Ale at Pro Night. From comments I’ve heard, Fair State was one of the crowd favorite local breweries at HBC 2017. Pahlay Ahlay is just fantastic. Yeah, I’ve had it many times before, but it’s a highlight every time I have it. I hope many people had a chance to try their sour beers and the Grodziskie. The two guys who started the sour program at Fair State, Caleb Levar and Levi Loesch, have finished their Ph.D.s at the University of Minnesota and moved on to start up Oude Oak sour/funky brewery in Northern Minnesota, but the legacy they have left behind continues to produce outstanding sour beer.
  8.  Brian Hall aka Brouwerij Chougach: Lambic v3 at the Milk the Funk meetup. Lambic v3 is a straight, unblended lambic-style ale. And actually there were two Lambic v3s at Milk the Funk. I had the pleasure of meeting Brian’s co-brewer for this batch, Matt Brown, at Homebrew Con and hearing about how painful the full turbid mash brew day was. Brian left a keg of Lambic v3 for me as he drove his car cross-country to move from Maine to Alaska. Since then, my primary contribution was to keep my hands off of it except for the occasional sample. I’ve cellared the beer with an appreciation for how it was crafted, and tried to maintain a constant head pressure to encourage the Brett to do their work. It was remarkable how it was clear that “my version” and Brian’s version were the same base beer, and yet they had undeniably diverged at some point during the two years I’ve had this keg. Remarkably, I feel like the beer is still improving.
  9. Matthew Chrispen: mead at Club Night. Matt brought a bunch of his meads to HBC and was holding court at a table in the back left corner of the room. I’m no mead expert, and I haven’t tried a lot of mead. But wow. If all mead was like this, I think I’d be making and drinking a ton of mead. I guess I know why Matt is always walking away with a fistful of medals when he enters his meads into competitions. My favorite was the ginger-accented mead, but every version of mead that I tried was a master work I couldn’t replicate if you gave me five years to dedicate to mead.
  10.  Unknown Finalist: a Porter leftover from NHC 2nd round judging at the Kickout Party. It was an interesting idea to serve the leftover bottles from the National Homebrew Competition in the first annual Kickout Party. Some of my friends who are BJCP judges said that the quality in the NHC 2nd round was uneven, with some beers obviously faring worse for the age in the second round, and others seemingly rushed into production, and of course some amazing beer. I had some bad beers from the unmarked bottles at the Kickout Party, but the porter I had was amazing. Regardless of whether this beer won a medal, I can see how high is the hurdle to win a medal at NHC.
  11.  Don Osborne: Bretted Helles Lager at the Chop n Brü Pre-Funk. It’s amazing that I had never seen Don O in person before despite living in the same metro. Great guy, and from talking to him at length it’s obvious that his on-air persona is the same as his real persona – a genuine guy and very thoughtful and passionate about his brewing. I had a chance to taste Don’s un-Bretted version of his Helles in the homebrew room at Insight, and it was really clean but maybe a little underattenuated. Then Don O was walking around with a champagne bottle of this Bretted version, and offered me a pour. I am glad I accepted because this lager went from decent to heavenly. I was sure to search out more of it at the Milk the Funk meetup.
  12.  Insight Brewing: Short Vacation at the Chop n Brü Pre-Funk. Brewed as a special release for this pre-party co-hosted by Chop n Brew and Brülosophy, Insight’s Belgian Table Beer was short on overpowering Belgian character, and long on a near-perfect melding of malt, hop bitterness and flavor, and drinkability. Even though I love many other Insight beers that were on the board that day, I used all of my drink tickets on Short Vacation.


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Tags for this post: homebrew, HBC 2017, Homebrew Con 2017, Milk the Funk, Brulosophy, Chop n Brew, Chop n Bru Pre-Funk, Minneapolis

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