Holy cow, what happened to 2015, amirite!? It was a big year, but it somehow managed to zip by faster than I even noticed. Overall I am feeling pretty good with how the year turned out: I managed to hit or get close to many of my goals and even accomplished a few I had not even considered. Minus a bit of a gap during the summer (which is not prime brewing season anyway) I was able to post pretty consistently all year long–I feel like I am finally getting into the swing of things! That said, join me as I take a look at my reflections and resolutions for 2016. It is gonna be a great year! 🙂
Now that I have a full year+ of posts to look at I can confidently say I feel like a blogger now. Each post is a little bit easier to write and those posts feel richer than ever. Another awesome side-effect from consistent posting is that I am networked with a great bunch of fellow bloggers (check my sidebar for my recommendations). I really look forward to writing more and meeting more great folks in 2016.
Last year I mentioned “I really see myself focusing solely on homebrewing and sticking to three main categories: 1) recipes; 2) techniques; and 3) ‘special interest.'” Turns out I did exactly that! The recipe reviews are a solid hit, but I mostly do those for my own benefit of expanding my ability to critically evaluate my recipes and process. My technique posts (e.g. toasting oats, lacto starter) were waaaaay more popular than I would have imagined, perhaps I will spend a bit more time in 2016 hashing out some techniques I have percolating in my brain. Perhaps no surprise at all, but my 2015 NHC Gold Medal Recipe database was the biggest hit of the year by far, accounting for ~20% of all pageviews for the year; looks like I will be doing it again next year 🙂
Last Year’s Resolutions
A sufficiently hand-wavy goal, I am going to say I did “more” with the site in 2015. I brewed an average amount (a little more than once a month) and I did not post an article about every brew, but I did manage to hit all the recipes I thought were share-worthy and I did get to travel a bunch and drink a lot of great beer all around the world. Win.
Year of the Sour Mash
I feel like the fast lactic souring game has blown up in the last year and I would like to think I helped play at least a tiny role in that. Feedback from my NHC presentation was great and my Intro to Sour Mashing and Lactobacillus Starter Guide are still some of my most visited pages. I did not quite hit every single post I had originally intended to write on the subject, but I feel like I hit all the important parts. In the mean time others have put out equally excellent guides on the subject.
Finally Finish My BJCP Training
I originally intended to take the tasting exam this fall, but decided “what the heck?” and jumped into taking it at the big exam at NHC in June. Good news, I passed with flying colors and I am only one point away from reaching Certified level!
Go Big At NHC
Done and done! Lots of great feedback on my NHC presentation Berliner and Beyond my club the Barley Engineers (and our sister club Société du Lambic) dominated club night with a line that literally stretched down the block. Two full bars serving non-stop, one full bar dedicated to nothing but sour & wild styles, and an evening spent spreading the gospel of club sour programs (look for a talk by fellow Engineer Andy Gamelin at NHC 2016).
Help Organize And Encourage Other Homebrew Bloggers
I did this rather unofficially this year by helping a number of bloggers set up and streamline their own WordPress sites. Additionally, I released four new updates (and one minor update) of the BeerXML Shortcode for WordPress based on contributions and feedback from fellow bloggers. In 2016 I would love to do something more organized with my fellow bloggers, but I am feeling pretty good about what I started this year.
One of the things I am most excited about for 2015 is just how far around the world my readership extended. Folks from over 60% of the countries in the world paid a visit to my site! Greenland, time to get your act together 😉
If I thought 2015 was going to be a good year, 2016 looks to be even better! I recently got word that I was accepted along with Marshall Schott (Brulosophy), Ed Coffey (Ales of the Riverwards), and Matt Humbard (Ph.D in Beer) to give a seminar on homebrew blogging at NHC 2016 in Baltimore, so look forward to some collaboration from each of us as we get closer to June. We will also likely be soliciting topics for discussion during the seminar itself, so get your blogging questions ready!
Otherwise, here are my resolutions for 2016:
If 2015 was the year of “more” then I want 2016 to be the year of “less.” What I do not mean is “fewer” (grammar bomb), rather I would like to experiment with posting more bite-sized posts rather than the monolithic posts of 2015. I have to remind myself that it is okay to post fun, spur of the moment things like a picture or video rather then spending a week preparing a rich, well researched tome.
I would also like to take it much easier this upcoming NHC; between speaking, socializing, and helping run club events I hardly had a single moment of down time. This year I would like to stop and smell the beers, as it were, and let the local folks run around like a chicken with its head cut off.
I was recently gifted a crown of the Neomexicanus variety Neo1, which I am extremely excited about due to the breed’s propensity for growing with less water requirements and in lower latitudes than Lupulus varieties. I will likely be writing about my experiences growing and harvesting the variety. I would also like to continue my series of Neomexicanus hop reviews, as it has become something of a pet project of mine.
Be a Good Leader
This past November I was elected president of my club the Society of Barley Engineers and I have quite a tough act to follow! Andy Gamelin, the founder and frequent president, has laid a great ground work for me and I really do not want to mess things up. I have some thoughts for what I would like to do as president, but I would like to wait until I get into the swing of things before making any big plans. In the mean time I just want to be a humble leader that does all I can to help the club members learn and have fun.
This is an idea we have bounced around at some of the Barley Engineer officer’s meetings: a nationwide sour-only competition. The Engineers have quite a reputation for our not-to-be-confused-with Lambic program and we think we can leverage that into something one-of-a-kind. As far as I am aware there are not any sour-only competitions in the US, this could be a really big deal!
Help Organize And Encourage Other Homebrew Bloggers
I am putting this one down again because it is still something I would like to do more of, perhaps in a more organized way. Of course my upcoming NHC seminar will be a part of this, my dream is to start something like The Session–a collaborative monthly beer related writing topic–but something explicitly focused on homebrewing. Feel free to let me know if you would be interested in such a thing 🙂
Whelp, that is about enough I think. Suffice to say I think 2016 is gonna be a blast, happy brewing y’all!