Blind Tasting Group – FREE

Sharpen your skills! Taste a beer blind, describe it, try to guess the style… then discuss it with the group.

This is a group activity, where we can all help each other grow, and learn from our collective experiences.

This is a free tasting group. You just need to bring a classic example to share.

(1) Everyone brings a classic example of a style of beer.

(2) That beer is kept secret to the rest of the group.

(3) You will pour your beer for the group, but the person to your left will lead the tasting notes (this will be limited to about 6 minutes).

(4) That person will try to guess the style – there are no points… it’s just for discussion.

(5) The rest of the group will get a shot to weigh in.

(6) The person that poured the beer will reveal it… a short discussion will follow

… rinse and repeat.

George will begin the session with an overview of how we should go over the tasting together. He will also moderate the evening, to help keep track of time and keep the learning going.

Here are the rules:

Q: What kind of beer should I bring?

A: Bring a beer that is a classic example for a particular beer style.

Q: How do I know it’s classic?

A: Consult the BJCP Guidelines at bjcp.org. They list several easy to find classic examples. They have apps for that too.

Q: Where should I buy them?

A: Go to a reputable bottle shop. Freshness is key. Especially since many of these are NOT whales.

Q: Should I bring this super hard to find whale, bro?

A: NO. That’s not the point of this session.

Q: Then what is the point?

A: To work and train our palates, and to spend time appreciating where our beer culture came from.

Q: Is this a bottle share?

A: NO. Only bring your blind beer. We’re here to work, not to hang out.

Q: Will everyone think I’m cool if I show up with some boozey, out of balance beer from Indiana, that is famous because it is hard to get, but no one seems to really actually enjoy it for real?

A: NO.

Q: Are you just being coy, and I should bring my super overly sour American made, out of balance beer that I just spent $30 on shipping to trade for?

A: NO. Either you should not show up to this class, or you may really need to. Bring a classic example.

Q: Do you think rare beers are cool?

A: Sure, whatever.

Q: Do you think that classic, well balanced beers are way more sexy?

A: Ya, no shit.

Reserve your seat here.

http://www.thehomebrewersd.com/product/blind-tasting-group-free/

Basic Off Flavors

A large part about improving yourself as a brewer is understanding how to identify off flavors, how they are created, and how to avoid them. These skill sets are also important for bartenders, servers, restaurant/bar owners. The average beer consumer should also be aware of how to identify these flaws, and how to politely address the issue if they are served a flawed beer. Not all flaws are equal, and some “flaws” are acceptable to a certain degree in many styles. This course will serve as a building block for building your overall beer knowledge and appreciation. This 1.5 hr class will provide samples of a control beer that has been dosed with the chemical compounds that we associate with the most common off-flavors in beer production and draft dispense. Includes:

  • 6 Off-flavors
  • 1 control beer
  • Guided tasting/instruction

Must be 21, or older, to attend.

Reserve your seat here.

 http://www.thehomebrewersd.com/product/basic-off-flavors-course

Beer and Cheese Pairing: Northern Europe

This series of courses explores the affinities for food and beer using cheese as our guide. We will spend time reviewing the basic tenants of beer and food pairing before we turn to some specific examples of beers and cheeses.

Tasting will include a flight of beers following the specific theme listed in the title, and 3-4 classic cheese examples to explore.

We will use this as a platform to facilitate group discussion about tasting and pairing.

Reserve your seat here.

http://www.thehomebrewersd.com/product/beer-and-cheese-pairing

Beer & Cheese Pairing: Southern Europe

This series of courses explores the affinities for food and beer using cheese as our guide. We will spend time reviewing the basic tenants of beer and food pairing before we turn to some specific examples of beers and cheeses.

Tasting will include a flight of beers following the specific theme listed in the title, and 3-4 classic cheese examples to explore.

We will use this as a platform to facilitate group discussion about tasting and pairing.

Reserve your seat here.

http://www.thehomebrewersd.com/product/beer-and-cheese-pairing

Basic Off Flavors

A large part about improving yourself as a brewer is understanding how to identify off flavors, how they are created, and how to avoid them. These skill sets are also important for bartenders, servers, restaurant/bar owners. The average beer consumer should also be aware of how to identify these flaws, and how to politely address the issue if they are served a flawed beer. Not all flaws are equal, and some “flaws” are acceptable to a certain degree in many styles. This course will serve as a building block for building your overall beer knowledge and appreciation. This 1.5 hr class will provide samples of a control beer that has been dosed with the chemical compounds that we associate with the most common off-flavors in beer production and draft dispense. Includes:

  • 6 Off-flavors
  • 1 control beer
  • Guided tasting/instruction

Must be 21, or older, to attend.

Reserve your seat here.

 http://www.thehomebrewersd.com/product/basic-off-flavors-course

Beer Style Breakdown: Belgium

This is a communal Study Group. We will provide 2-3 examples of two different classic styles from the region.

All you need to do is bring one or two examples to share with the group (at least 2x 12oz, and 1x750ml/22oz).

The beers should be produced in the region that we are studying, and should represent a “classic example” as much as possible.

Consult the BJCP Style Guidelines for examples.

We will go over the beers together and spend time researching/discussing the brewery, the beer itself, the style, food pairings, etc…

This will of course be fun and light hearted, but the goal is to have a place where we can be a little more focused and organized, so the only other request is that you take it seriously, and keep chatter down to a minimum.

🙂

Must be 21, or over, to attend.

This study group will be more beneficial for all involved if you do some prep work before hand: taste classic examples. Review the BJCP app, read the section in The Brewmaster’s Table, etc…

To register:

Go to http://www.thehomebrewersd.com/product/style-focus-study-group-series/

select the appropriate date/class.

All Grain Brewing: How-To

In this class we cover the equipment and process for all grain brewing. The class is designed to help brewers make the transition into all grain, but also covers topics for experienced all-grain brewers; such as: yeast health, hopping techniques, and basic water chemistry. We do not recommend this class for first time brewers trying to learn the basic terms/techniques of brewing.
2.5 hours. $15

RSVP: 619 450 6165 – brew@thehomebrewersd.com – Due to increased demand, payment required to hold spot.

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Crystal vs Caramel Malt

There are probably a million articles on this out there, but how about one more?

It is true that typically Crystal malts were made in Europe, and Caramel Malts in the US. This seems to be the only difference. According to a Briess article on the topic, that is the main difference. Most people are using the term interchangeably. The malt producers at least stick to the distinctions, but no one else seems to care. Not sure if we do either. Indeed, one of our main distributers has us order “Briess Crystal 10L,” but when the bag arrives it says “Caramel 10L.”  We have crystal/cara/caramel malts from 6 different maltsters from around the world, so we enjoy tasting all of the options and making the decision based on our goals.

Most Crystal/Caramel malts are made by stewing grains at temperatures that achieve saccharification, and then roasting them at temperatures above 300F to produce a hard crack type caramel, or “crystallization” of the endosperm.

There are some caramel malts that are produced using a kiln, but the maximum temperatures possible with a kiln are about half of what a roaster can do, so this requires more time, and is generally less consistent than roasting.

The only for sure way to tell, is to visit the websites for each major malster, and read up on what processes/techniques they use. Briess is probably the most helpful here. We’ll attach links to the malt companies that we use most, and furnishing a more detailed report would be a good project for the future.

Briess, Crisp, Bairds, Weyermann, Castle, Thomas Fawcett, Gambrinus, Great Western Malts, Franco-Belges.

 

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Wyeast Now in Stock

We have expanded our offerings from Wyeast Labs. We have always carried their American Ale, Pacman (Rogue), and Denny’s Favorite, but we are now carrying the following strains in addition:

German Ale, British Ale, Whitbread, Ringwood, Northwest, Kolsch, Belgian Abbey Ale II, Forbidden Fruit, French Saison, Belgian Saison, Roeselare Blend, and Trappist High Gravity.

You’ll find them in the yeast fridge sharing two blue containers. Click here for more info about each individual strain.

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NHC 2013 – Philadelphia, PA

Last week was the 35th Annual National Homebrewer’s Conference. This year hosted by the great beer town of Philadelphia. We (or I, George) was lucky enough to attend, and am very happy to report back on the overall experience. The location was perfect, the seminars were fun and informative, and beer tourism was phenomenal, and in fact, really made the trip for me.

Philly boasts some of the coolest beer bars & beer-centric restaurants you could wish for. We arrived on Tuesday, two nights before the conference began, and our first order of business was to visit Monk’s Cafe, a cozy Belgian-beer-lover’s paradise. In fact, Michael Jackson commented that it was America’s best Belgian beer bar, and many would argue that this is still true. There certainly isn’t anything quite like it in San Diego, although if you combined the tap list at Small Bar, with the bottle list at Hamilton’s Tavern, you would get kinda sorta close. You’d be missing moules frites, however (sad face). There is also a good offering of German beer bars in the city. Bru Carft, and Brauhaus Schmidtz being the two we had the pleasure of checking out. Again, we simply don’t have these sort of options in San Diego. Occasionally you can count on a solid Kolsch at Tiger!Tiger!, or Blind Lady Ale House, but there aren’t any places with the consistent selection of these Philly beer spots.

Food wise, we enjoyed the above mentioned spots, but other standouts included The Farmer’s Cabinet. Rag time piano, lots of wood, and an ecclectic beer list featuring many fantastic Northern European breweries (Haandbryggeriet of Norway, for instance). A large group of fantastic homebrewers with large hearts enjoyed an outstanding meal there.

The conference itself offered a solid variety of topics to satisfy the interests of any homebrewer. Topics included, sensory analysis (presented by San Diego’s own Kara Taylor of White Labs), Cider (again, San Diego great, Chris Banker of QUAFF), hops, hops, oh and one that talked a little about hops, mash chemistry, building a walk-in cooler, a “going pro” panel, mead and chocolate pairing, and more. You can view the details/presentations from previous years here. As of this posting 2013’s notes are not available yet, but they will be shortly.

Many of the seminars include samples of beer, but there are many other opportunities to fill your glass throughout the weekend. The Pro Brewer’s Night is a great opportunity to sample pro beers from nearby and from around the country. Club Night is the zaniest of all, and is essentially a rager done in all the nerdy glory that only homebrewers can accomplish. Clubs from near and far offer samples of their brews for all to try.

The weekend is wrapped up with a banquet, which includes the awards ceremony for the National Homebrewer’s Competition. Rogue provides the beers, and Homebrew Chef Sean Paxton creates the menu.

All-in-all I highly recommend making the trip out to NHC every year if you can. Next years will be hosted by Grand Rapids, MI. So we will see you there.

My account of the weekend is a summed up version of an all out action packed visit, so please include any of your favorite moments below.

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Berlin Beer Preparations

This August Molly & I will be heading out to the East coast for some family time, followed by several weeks in Europe, which will be capped off at a close friend’s wedding in the South of France. Needless to say, we are thrilled as we prep for this trip. I love the miniature isle at Target, finally an excuse to buy that mini deodorant. It probably won’t even last the whole trip, but oh well, it’s cute.

Even more exciting is doing the prelim research on what we would like to do during our visit. Although I do appreciate the Lonely Planet type guides for their focus on fun-filled travel, we have found that the Rick Steve’s lineup of travel advice fits our nerdy, history-related interests, and that we can fill in the gaps for our other interests with some well worded google/blog searches (read the latter as beer/wine/food interests). Rick Steve has let us down several times when it comes to restaurant recommendations (read “family-friendly” as “the Chili’s of Brussels!! Yay!”)

Unfortunately, sites like BeerAdvocate.com have never done much for us when it comes to finding the beer spots where others don’t expect to find it. This stood out to us on our last trip to Italy, as well as our trip to Spain before that. It seems that if BeerAdvocate users don’t expect good beer to be there, they will convince themselves that it won’t exist. Worse yet, they will go online and tell everyone that it does not exist, thus perpetuating the very lie that denied them the pleasure of great beer abroad. What a shame!

Perhaps we will have time in the future to go back to our notes regarding Milan, Florence, & Venice. In each of these places we read everywhere that there was no craft beer to be found. Tell that to the shopkeeper in Venice that has over 100 bottles of beers decorating his windows, and perhaps more of them filling his numerous display fridges. We found that place on the first day… within about 30 minutes of wandering (perhaps we’ll post on the art of wandering about in a city). The Dog Fish Head collaboration we found the next day at a separate place, and it went great with our meals… I’ll tell you what.

So back to our current travel prep, especially Berlin: our first stop in Europe this August. BeerAdvocate and related sites list a few places that we are certainly looking forward to, and we have already created bookmarks for them on our “OffMaps” App on our IPad. The bulk of these options however, are large scale breweries… we want to go a bit deeper than that. It must be there right?!

So far all we have had to do is search for “German Beer Blog.” The top returns include a site that introduced us to 3-4 bars/breweries/cafes, that BeerAdvocate left out. I wil post the link to that blog here, and simply list those establishments below, in case you are also looking for some Berlin beer spots to enjoy during your next stay.

Provinz Cafe carries Rollberg bier, you also have Eschenbräu, and Bier Kombinat.

So in the end, the point of this ramble is to advocate digging a bit deeper than your usual resources when it comes time to plan your next trip.

Do you have any Berlin beer/food/wine spots you’d like to recommend?