This was one of the better meetings of SAAZ Akron, though this may be only my fourth, they keep getting better and better.
At this meeting, they were judging ‘Fall’ beers for the Home Brewer of the Season. I still had a Pumpkin and Oktoberfest on tap so I brought those for judging. I also brought a Citra IPA for general sampling. Now the funny thing was, when I got there I sat next to Greg, I asked him what he brought and it was a Citra IPA. Too funny. We then proceeded to have a mini-battle taking ours from table to table. They were both distinguishable beers with a different recipe and it was great to hear the feedback on both.
Steve also gave a talk on water chemistry. It’s something I have been recently trying to get familiar with, ‘Is this a tool I want to use?’ As a chemist, it’s right up my alley. Currently I brew with the standard Akron water run through a chlorine filter. I think it works fine for the most part and I can put out some pretty good beers. I like to brew with the ‘terroir’ of the area I am in…I want to do all that I can, naturally, with the ingredients I have before any chemical alteration. I want my beers to represent Akron, so I’m going to try to use the Akron water the best I can…if I can’t achieve the flavor I want, can I try a different yeast or mash temperature before making water adjustments? It may be silly and I’m being too fundamental… You may also see the irony to this, I am a chemist so you would think that I can’t wait to start dumping chemicals into the water. I guess you would say I’m a chemist with ‘naturalist’ leanings. But the addition of certain salts to brewing water can offer further improvements for certain styles which shouldn’t be forgotten.
Steve did a great job on this tech talk and I learned a lot to perhaps further refine my craft. At the end of the talk we actually sample identical beers that varied only by the addition of certain salts to enhance flavor. It was an IPA so, to me, it may have been too strong of a beer to notice any subtle changes. Doing this on a more neutral pale ale and also a light pilsner would be good. It was interesting in that when asked which of the three people preferred by a show-of-hands, it was all across the board between the three and nearly split evenly. At the end of the day people have different taste buds and just prefer different flavors.
Homebrewer of the Season
This was cool. Essentially any club member can bring in a fall beer for an informal judging by all the other members that night. There were NINETEEN beers! There was A LOT of sampling. Nearly half of them were pumpkins. What made it even better was the food, which was needed – pulled pork and a bean chili which was great and hit the spot.
Now I did sample all 19 of these. There was a wide variety to the pumpkins and I believe the winners all made pumpkins.
Another excellent meeting! I would encourage any readers possibly interested in brewing to come to the next meeting, details at SAAZ Akron. You will learn a lot but also being able to sample so many other beers made by award winning home brewers is priceless.