In case you did not notice the new link in the header, the 2016 NHC Gold Medal Recipes are up! Head on over and check ’em out, all the recipes include the BeerXML download for easy import into your recipe builder of choice!
Check out the rest of my recipes in the index.
I challenge you to find a topic more contentious than haze in beer. Minus the odd, typically wheat-based style, the general mandate for clarity is the clearer the better–crystal is best. Well, for one reason or another our friends over in New England have decided to buck the trend: instead of crisp, dry, crystal clear megadank hop bombs the New Englanders have opted to follow a whatever-it-takes mentality to squeeze maximum “juiciness” out of their hops and yeast. As the result of their methods, the beers have a distinct haze/turbidity to them (“hazy af“) proponents claim enhances mouthfeel and the fruity-juicy character of the high ester yeast and New World hops.
While I am personally a fan of clear beer–you drink with your eyes, etc–I do not have a problem, per se, with folks developing/enjoying their own regional interpretations of a style. By and large I wager most folks feel the same and us West Coast folks were content to enjoy our thing and let the folks in New England do their thing… until homebrewer king Jamil Zainasheff fired off the “Tweet Heard ‘Round the World” and everyone lost their friggin’ minds.
I'm sorry, you who think this is acceptable beer have lost your minds. This overly yeasty crap is offensive. pic.twitter.com/TTTrT3nbhi
— Jamil Zainasheff (@mrmalty) March 2, 2016
If you follow the thread further it turns out he was merely upset about paying $9 for a beer that has poor fermentation character, but it was already too late: the New Englanders had already grabbed their pitchforks to defend their precious haze and the West Coasters had lined up to join in on the dump-fest. Now you have to have an opinion and the other side is wrong! Oi! (Also, Jamil needs to learn to properly orient his photos)
Here is the sad truth of the matter: many West Coast folks likely have not sampled a good representation of the NE style, it simply does not get made/distributed out here; my own experience was limited to a handful of sips from smuggled cans at bottle shares. Meanwhile, New Englanders have been living under West Coast beer imperialism for the last decade or so, maybe they do know better. Not one to get too tangled up in brewing dogma, I decided to see what the hubbub was all about and brew a New England Pale Ale myself. At the urging of noted oat enthusiast Scott Janish I decided this would also be a good time to experiment with his recommendation of > 18% oats in the grist. It’s so juicy!
Wow, what a great time in Baltimore at Homebrew Con this past weekend. By now you have likely already read some recaps from my amigos Brian Hall, Marshall & Malcolm, and Ed Coffey, so instead of recapping the events of the Con, here are few thoughts that I had about the best weekend of the year.
Baltimore is a Cool City
I will admit that my only real exposure to Baltimore before Homebrew Con was from watching The Wire–which I hear from folks is both an accurate portrayal of the city, but also just one very specific view into its dark underbelly. There was definitely a vibe that there are some rough edges to the city, but I was super-impressed with how friendly everyone is and just how many cool/old-school/authentic businesses and eateries there are. I kinda did not get why Homebrew Con was in Baltimore this year before I came, but now I totally do. Pair that with support for homebrewing from both the governor of Maryland (who pounded a beer before getting up and giving a short talk) and a state senator–Maryland is a beer-friendly state I can imagine my southern amigos only dream of.
Part of my series on neomexicanus hops.
Those of you who have been reading the site for a while know that I like to keep tabs on all things Neomexicanus (a newly cultivated hop variety that is native to the South Western United States). A few years ago it was possible to find a handful of hop growers willing to sell Neomexicanus rhizomes/crowns, but a handful of big breweries (namely, Sierra Nevada) recently discovered the variety and many of the growers went underground to focus on commercializing their crops. Thus, for the last handful of years unless you knew someone who managed to snag a plant a few years ago and was willing to share you were out of luck if you wanted to grown your own.
Well, good news everyone: I just got word that Great Lakes Hops has field-grade Neomexicanus crowns available for purchase again! It’s still early enough that if you order and plant ASAP you might get a small harvest and you will come out strong for next year. Here is a quick rundown of the available varieties with descriptions from Great Lakes Hops:
Picked up two silvers at the San Diego round of the National Homebrew Competition this past weekend, one for my Vienna lager and the other for some Straight Lambic I had bulk aging in a keg already (the same base I used for my crowd favorite Kumquat Lambic). Pretty exciting, see y’all down Baltimore way!