Lessons From My First Public Homebrew Competition

A little over a year ago I jumped into this awesome hobby of homebrewing. Now, twenty some batches in, I’ve moved from extract to all-grain, gotten a temperature controlled fermentation chamber, a handful of kegs, and all sorts of other fun gear. What I hadn’t done, was enter a competition. Sure, the local homebrew club had some monthly comps that I brought a bottle or two for, but I hadn’t gone ‘public’… yet.

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Homebrewing Year One: Equipment and Labels

I started homebrewing early in 2016 with no knowledge and with what a store owner told me was “everything I needed.” With every batch I brewed, I made mistakes, sought out more advice, and acquired more equipment. Now, after nine batches, I finally feel confident that when I invest time on brew day, I’ll end up with something worth drinking and sharing.

While I have loved this journey into homebrewing competence, I’ve also loved making beer labels for each batch. This article presents my year-one journey as captured by the labels I created.

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Meadmakers Corner: Brewing A Cyser

One of the great things about being a homebrewer is being able to use what’s in season where you are, and being able to get it into your brew at the peak of freshness. As summer has slipped away from us, we are now welcoming the fall. Hay rides, harvests, and of course apples? Apples you might ask, isn’t that cider? By themselves yes, but what if you were to brew a concoction of mead and cider? A liquid mixture of honey and apple to get the best from both? You would have the elixir known as cyser. I can’t say that I’ve seen very many commercial examples out there. Yes they exist, but they are not very widespread.

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Wort Chiller Review and Comparison

Here is my comparison of a few wort chiller types and brands. Chilling your wort after you’ve finished the boil serves a number of purposes. There’s the scientific aspect of how chilling it quickly causes certain protein strains to form and precipitate out, and there’s corresponding studies of why that’s a good thing. Another key purpose is that once your wort gets below about 140F, it’s no longer hot enough to kill random stuff that floats into it. So the sooner you can get it down to pitching temperature and get it sealed up, the less exposure risk to wild yeast. The final reason, though, is important whether you are an organic chemistry nerd, a germaphobe, or anything in between- your time. The quicker you cool it, the sooner you’re brew day is done. As with most things in homebrewing, there are a number of equipment options to get the job done. I’ve tried to cover the key ones here, with some hands on trials to understand the differences.

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Low Dissolved Oxygen (DO) Brewing Lager

Every few years there seems to be some radical underpinning of the brewing word that comes under assault. Remember olive oil instead of oxygen? Saisons fermented above 80F? Dark candi syrup the key to dark Belgian beers? Dry hopping during fermentation? After the debate calms down sometimes brewer’s shift their process en masse, and sometimes most of them say it isn’t worth the expense/effort/trade-off.

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