I had the pleasure of attending the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in Denver Colorado on
September 29th and 30th 2011. The GABF is kind of the Super Bowl of Beer.
The GABF is more than the flavor of beer, it’s the people, the passion, the culture,
and it’s appreciating what God has given us for our
Before going to GABF I read several survival guides.
Here is my survival guide:
-go with a plan – decide what you want to see and do BEFORE you enter the hall
-go to the special events – the quality of the guest speakers is
astounding and don’t worry, you will be served beer during the
event. You will not miss out on tasting, what could be finer?
SITTING and getting served great beers! Also, the beers served in the
special events may not be available at the festival.
-make or buy a cup holder to hold your tasting glass
so your hands are free for other tasks. You don’t want to
drop your glass!
-make and wear a pretzel necklace. It sounds strange but
it is useful for clearing your palate and soaking up beer.
-Eat a full meal before going into the festival hall. This will
allow you to more fully enjoy the tasting.
The GABF has a culture all its own, from the pretzel necklaces
of all shapes and sizes, the pirates, Waldos, and Monk costumes,
When someone drops their plastic tasting glass all people around
erupt into an “OOOOhhhhh….”. Throughout the evening you
would hear the “OOhhs” from all around the massive room.
The GABF appeals to a wide spectrum of beer skill levels, and
appreciation with truly something for everyone as long as you
possess the common denominator, the passion for beer.
You need passion and drive to survive the massive crowds and to
adjust to the constant roar of the crowds.
This event is not for the faint of heart.
The GABF is Beer culture, friendly and pleasure-seeking.
At the GABF you can meet and talk to the luminaries in the
brewing industry, best-selling Authors, and even the Father of home brewing,
Like a scene out of “Braveheart”, I will never forget the opening day, the rush of climbing the
stairs to the festival hall with the blaring
battle cry of a team of bag pipes. The only thing missing was the
face paint! Cheers!
After two months in the fermenter this Ale is finally in the bottle. The fermemtation was extremely slow, probably because the temperature averaged about 65 F.
The Ale turned out pretty well. The carbonation is good,amber color, a bit less bitterness than I expected, with a sweet finish. This is a good drinking/session beer. Cheers!
There is nothing like brewing on a beautiful spring day!! This English all grain ale was made with my homegrown Cascade hops from last year. I first milled the Maris Otter and crystal malt in my Malt Mill. I finally added a handle to my extended wooden arm. The mill was easier than ever to turn. I was surprised how much harder it was to crush the crystal than the Maris Otter.
Brewing a in bag rocks! It is so much easier than having loose malt. I used two nylon mesh bags which seemed a bit tight. I am a bit concerned that the malt was too dense during the mash.
I used the 40-60-70 (C) mashing technique for 30, 20, 40 minutes respectively. I mashed out at 170F. Got to use my new “mashing cozy” during each “rest” (Thanks Lori!).
Using whole hops was a nice change. I found them easier to handle than the pellets because they stay in the mesh bags and can easily be filtered out. The hops looked and smelled great.
Overall, the brew day went well but the results were not as good as I had hoped. I tried a different mashing method to improve my mashing efficiency. The final gravity was 44 and my target was 67. My efficiency was only 50%. I added some dry malt extract and the gravity ended up at 62. Until next time…Cheers!
Been planning my next brew day and thinking about my mashing technique. Last time I tried to use a rectangular cooler and I didn’t feel like I could maintain the proper temperatures during the mash.
I stumbled upon a stepped technique that has been around a while. George Fix’s multi-rest mash sounded good. John Palmer describes the 40-60-70 technique in his book online ( http://www.howtobrew.com/section3/chapter16-2.html ) . I have had pretty good luck mashing in my boil kettle so I think I am going to give it a try. Hopefully this technique will improve my mashing efficiency, which could be improved. Prost!
It’s the start of a new brewing year. My brewing year starts when I buy a large quantity of malt. I have decided to focus on English ales, pale ales, and bitters this year. I have a smokey pale in the fermenter now.
I purchased a 55# bag for Maris Otter from my local brew shop (Thanks Ivan! http://microbebrewerssupply.com/). I am working on a recipe for a pale ale using some Cascade hops I grew last year. Looking forward to a new style after spending a year with the Belgians. Cheers!
I have had 9 pounds of smoked malt in the closet for a while. This stuff smells so awesome!
My Malt Mill did a nice job crushing…ooo that smell!
One thing that I have learned is that large grain bags are so useful.
I used this cooler for the first time. I found it hard to get the cooler up to the proper temp and hard to hold it. The lid was not well insulated. It was quite warm throughout the mash.
I was excited to use 2 pounds of Jaggery sugar from India. It is a raw sugar with lots of interesting flavors. I ended up mixing the sugar with some boiling water on the day after the brew day. Unfortunately, I found several “hitch hikers” from India. These insects were in the sugar. I decided that I could not use this sugar.
The recipe included 2 pounds of 10 Lovibond crystal malt, 2 oz. of Northern Brewer for bittering, and 4 oz. of East Kent Golding for aroma. I pitched White Labs English Ale yeast. The final gravity ended up to be 42, not near my target of 76. I am going to add some Demerara sugar to bring up the gravity and add some flavor.
Ah, the twists and turns of brewing. All and all I am hopeful about this smokey nectar. Prost!
My Belgian Strong Ale has been working since December, taking a bit too long. The temp in the room runs 60 to 66 degrees. I purchased the Brew Belt and wrapped it around the bucket. The belt will reportedly bring the fermenter up 10 degrees. Within two days, the fermentation had finished!
Works for me! Prost!