Day 2 of Homebrew Con

I intended to write up something after Club Night, but got back late and wanted to practice my talk one last time, so this is only getting written two days late!

In any case, Day 2 of Homebrew Con piled on some more informative seminars and product demos as well as more tasty beer.

The seminar highlight for me was on oxidation, presented by Robert Hall and Andy Mitchell. They even had samples of fresh and oxidized Fat Tire to compare, which was a really nice demo. They had tips on how to expand your oxidation vocabulary (it’s not just old cardboard or sherry; it also can manifest as honey or applesauce, among others), which was pretty useful. For those who want to experience oxidation directly, a simple demo is to take two bottles of a commercial beer (lighter beer, such as light lager or amber ale preferable), and then uncap one and leave it open for a few seconds before recapping. Leave the uncapped one at room temperature for a few days, and then compare! You should be able to pick up oxidation notes fairly easily. Finally, Andy presented some really cool data on oxidation in home bottling. He works at Fat Tire, and so has access to some sweet dissolved oxygen measuring equipment. He filled bottles from the tap using a hose without CO2 purge (like filling a growler) and a beer gun with CO2 purge, and compared their DO levels to those coming off the commercial bottle line. Surprisingly (to me), the “home-filled” bottles (even those using a tap hose!) often (but not always) had less dissolved oxygen than those from the commercial beer line! Capping on foam is probably critical. The bottle-line beers had more consistent DO levels, though, whereas the “home-filled” ones had a more variable spread of data points. Lots to think about!

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Briess Malt Steeping Demo

I also saw a nice demo of the ASBC hot steep malt sensory method at the Briess booth (see picture above). I had read about this recently, and it seems like a nice way to quickly, cheaply, and easily compare malt flavor and aroma in a homebrewing environment. A PDF of their handout is available here.

In the social club, one of the local homebrewers (from the Primary Fermenters club) had a really tasty lemongrass ginger wit–it was wonderfully balanced in flavor and quite refreshing! It ranked among the more interesting and enjoyable homebrews I sampled at the conference.

For lunch, a few of us made our way out to the Utepils Brewery. It’s a really pretty space, with gorgeous tilework below the fermenters, and even more gorgeous beer on tap. I had another glass of their delightful Czech pilsner, as well as their weizen. A food truck had pasties in several delicious varieties, which complimented the beers nicely.

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Inside the Utepils brewery and tap room

The day culminated with the world-famous Club Night! Numerous local and regional clubs had their best stuff on tap, with some really fun themes. I enjoyed a Big Lebowski-themed booth, as well as the Game of Thrones booth–featuring taps run through an ice wall! This being the Upper Midwest, many excellent meads were available.

Back to the room, and one more run-through of my talk to close out the day…

Tomorrow I’ll post a summary of the conferences final day!

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