Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Rekickstarting my homebrewing career

Treehouse Brewing ClubLearning how to homebrew beer on my own has been tough. The results I've seen have been rather disappointing at times, particularly when my beer doesn't turn out the way I hoped. I've been wanting to drastically improve the way I homebrew and I think I found just the thing. I'm finally going to join a homebrew club.

I've been homebrewing off and on (mostly off) since the late 1990s. However, I've only made 4 or 5 batches of extract beer in that entire time. Call me lazy? Yes. And call me busy and/or unmotivated. That is, until now.

During the last two years I've been doing some re-investing in homebrew equipment. I've spend several hundred dollars on newer and better equipment. But just because I have better equipment doesn't mean I'll brew better beer. However, I want to go to the next step and learn how to do all-grain homebrewing to make beer.

Last night, I attended my first ever homebrew club meeting. I've been wanting to attend one of these for years but never seemed to get over to an actual meeting before. One homebrew club recently started up in Greeley, Colorado that looked inviting, so I finally drove across town last night to see what it was all about.

Treehouse Brewing Club logoThe Treehouse Brewing Club started in September 2010 and meets regularly on the 1st Monday of each month at Crabtree Brewing Company's tasting room in Greeley, Colorado. I'm a big supporter of Crabtree Brewing and thought this would be the right place to put some life into my homebrewing once again.

The meeting started at 7:00pm and the leader, Eric Reinsvold got things started. There were over 25 people in attendance, more than they were expecting. This night they would be starting things off by having a discussion about brewing efficiency and attenuation. A couple of members jumped right in on an advanced topic of how to improve your efficiency in your all-grain beer batches.

Since I hadn't gotten into all-grain brewing up to this point, some of the conversation didn't mean a lot to me (yet), but I took some good notes anyway as I've read a bit about all-grain brewing and have watched a couple of Basic Brewing videos on the topic. It didn't take long to understand some of the complexities they were talking about.

Inside Crabtree BrewingThe meeting also included a "Calibrator" session. One of the members, Neil, brought several samples of Winter Warmers including Isolation from Odell Brewing, Jubelale from Deschutes, and Hibernation from Great Divide. All three of these beers were markedly different but were all classified under the same heading as a winter or holiday ale. It was nice to compare the differences side by side.

Once the discussion and Calibrator session was done it was then time for their annual Holiday Homebrew judging. Members were given the chance to sample beers brewed by members and vote for their favorite holiday beer. This competition had around a dozen entries.

The final winner of this competition was presented a clever scale model of an all-grain brewing set-up as a trophy as well as a hand-crafted glass goblet.

I had the chance to talk with several members and newcomers alike. They have attendees ranging from absolute beginner all the way up to a professional brewer in the ranks.

Dave homebrewing at homeCrabtree Brewing was kind enough to donate the space for the meeting. At the end of the meeting Jeff Crabtree (owner of the brewery) surprised everyone by giving out samples of their 1st canned beer (Eclipse Black IPA) that they recently produced last week. Crabtree also has donated a couple of wooden barrels for the homebrew club to experiment with.

Membership in this club runs $20 a year and the membership year begins in January, so I'll be sure to sign up and pay my dues at the next meeting. I'm hoping that by attending these meetings that I'll find some new friends, learn a LOT about brewing beer and improving my homebrewing.

Readers: Do you belong to a homebrew club? How long did it take you to jump into all-grain brewing? I'd love to get your inputs on your homebrew clubs and what activities you've been involved with them.

Related articles:
- Colorado Homebrew Clubs List.
- Colorado Homebrew Supply Stores List.
- Putting together my home brewery. (Part 3)

This article came from FermentedlyChallenged.com - a Colorado beer blog.
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