2007 July Meeting Issue #105

The Official WHALES Newsletter and Minutes July 2007 Issue #105
Woodbridge Homebrewers Ale & Lager Enthusiasts Society Established 1996

*July 21st Belgium Comes to Cooperstown (Cooperstown, NY)
*July 27th Luke’s Drive In Movie’s (July 28th rain date)
*August 11th Canoe Trip (Double Trouble State Park)
* August 21st Monthly Meeting
* September 18th Club Only Comp (Bock)
* October 20th Valhalla: The Meading of Life (HBOY Comp)

Check the member’s only AOL “WHALESCLUB” site or Yahoo User’s Group thewhales for the latest announcements and calendar updates.  Feel free to upload pictures, review beers/bars and post comments.  If you are a member and do not have access to the site, please let Luke or Bobby and they will invite you to the group.

"It is the general consensus of opinion that ‘near beer’ is utterly useless as a beverage, that it affords no pleasure whatsoever, and that it is a waste of time to bother with it.  The consumption of eight or nine bottles gives them a sense of nauseated fullness with none of the simulated sense of well-being that the old time beer gave only after two or three bottles.”—City of New York Department of Welfare, King’s County Hospital, 1920

A wonderful mid-summer evening greeted the Whales gathered on the 2nd floor patio at JJ Bitings. Our Tuesday July 17th meeting was a well attended affair, made possible by the continued support of the good folks at JJ Bitings.   

A high class roster of Homebrewers and friends were in attendance.  Partaking of the fun were, Neal, Jody, the “Rick” and Heather, Newman, Luke, Bill and Kristen S., Brad and Jen, Jim, Levi, Prez, Steve G., Keith, and Colin.  Rounding out the team were Mike V., Big Bill, Gene, Uncle Leo, and Rob and Kristen.    

Ten or so members of the Whales took some time on July 5th to visit Stiles Apiary or “That Honey Place” for both a tour and to procure over 480 lbs of honey.  The club visited with Grant Stiles who graciously conducted the “Boy Scout Tour” of the apiary.  Grant explained the operation of the apiary and the honey extraction facility.  He also explained that the majority of the revenues generated by the apiary were not through the sales of honey, but in providing pollination services to farmers all over the east coast.  Grant explained that the process of moving the bees starts in the middle of the night.  At night, the bees are less active and are more easily boxed up and loaded into a truck.  The bees are then driven to where they are needed to pollinate crops.  All of this is done by a guy who holds a full time job as well.  In appreciation for the tour and terrific honey price, a few of the club members brought some mead to share with Grant.  Luke shared some a cyser and Gary brought some sage mead to taste.  

At the meeting, Luke handed out a nice summary of the Whales Barrel Mead Project and an instructional pamphlet on mead making.   Following the procurement of the required honey supplies, Luke and Leo hosted an all day mead making extravaganza.  Brewing for the two Whales Barrel Mead Projects was held on July 14th.  The mead making started at Luke’s house at 8:00AM and continued at Uncle Leo’s at noon.  Numerous people contributed equipment and supplies to help with the brewing of several 10 gallon batches.  These batches were transferred into two plastic 55 gallon fermenters.  The brewing involved, mixing honey with water that was heated to ~140deg F.  The mixture was held at the elevated temperatures for about 10 minutes to kill any wild yeast.  At this point, the must was then cooled and oxygenated and transferred to the barrel.  Special thanks go out to Bobby, who provided a counter flow chiller and pump.  These greatly aided in the transfer of must to the barrel.  There is also some cool video of the process on www.Youtube.com search for BobbyfromNJ.  Each barrel of mead contains about 180 lb of honey that are both an 80/20 mix of blueberry and wildflower honeys.  Both barrels saw signs of fermentation by the evening of the brew day, and both had vigorous fermentation, requiring blow off tubes by the next morning.  More thanks go to Luke and Leo for organizing the Mead project and hosting the events and barrels at their homes.

The Luke Kostu annual movie night will be held on July 27th at 7 PM with a rain date of July 28th.  A vote will decide which rock and roll concert movie will be shown at the event. Movie night is a BYOB event, however Brad has pledged to bring his trash can beer tower.  If anyone has a corny that they want to drain or donate to the cause bring it on the 27th.    Luke will provide some “pub grub”, popcorn, twizzlers, hot dogs, etc….  Folks are welcome to bring any other food they would like to eat or share.  There will also be fireworks and door prizes for the event, so bring your helmet for protection.  Luke also reminded us that the hot tub is open, so if there are some Whales who want to expose their half naked bodies at the party bring you suit.  See you there.

A lucky group of WHALES spent some time coordinating accommodations for the upcoming SOLD OUT Belgium Comes to Cooperstown. Look for an update in the August minutes regarding the fun and beers had by all.

The July Club Only Competition for strong ales was a bust.  No one brought any entries for this competition which was to include, Old Ale, English Barleywine, and American Barleywine.  It looks like people were holding on tight to the secret bottles under the stairs.  As there was no competition winner, Prez agreed to look if he had any Strong Ales that he could send to the competition to represent the Whales.  The next COC is scheduled for September 18th, and the style represented is BJCP Category 5 beers (Bocks).  Included in this category are Maibock/Hellesbock, Traditional Bock, Dopplebock, and Eisbock.

Since there were no points from the club only competition, or points from the second round of the national homebrew competition, the standings in the Home Brewer of the Year (HBOY) competition remain unchanged.  Gary’s total of 26 points leads all Whales.  The Prez is in second with 18 points and Keith Story is in third with 15.  Uncle Leo is in fourth with 13 points, and there are 11 other Whales that have points in this years bid to be Home Brewer of the Year.  Make sure that you send Colin the info on any entries sent to HBOY competitions.  Up to two points are given for just entering, so be sure to get the easy ones.  Please send an e-mail to Colin at colin.falkinburg@gmail.c om with a list of your entries and styles submitted at each sanctioned competition.

As part of a new segment for the whales meetings, Newman presented this month’s installment of Beer in the News.  This month Newman pointed out the articles on line and other places regarding the Brewing Industry actively trying to limit the amount of losses associated with stolen kegs.  The price of stainless steel has far out weighed the deposit on these kegs, and people have been selling them for scrap.  The industry is putting pressure on states to require scrap dealers to get proof of ownership before buying the kegs.  Newman also handed out an article from Garden Plate magazine.  The article was about the head brewer at The Ship Inn. It also talks about his beer in a box invention that allows beer to stay fresh for weeks.       

Heather made a presentation for the Gadget of the Month segment.  She passed around a nifty Infrared thermometer that allows you to measure your mash or wort temperature accurately without touching the liquid.  The device costs around $20 from one of those fancy cooking gadget stores.  Heather did recommend that you need to stir the liquid before measuring as the device only measures the surface temperature.

Keith reminded folks that he and Donna are planning a canoe trip on August 11th, down in Double Trouble State Park.  The trip is a 6 or 7 hr tour in Canoes or Kayaks.  Boat rentals are around $40.  For more information contact Keith at kstory@khov.com.

Folks are reminded that if they have ideas for updating the club’s website, Whalesclub.org they should e-mail them to Paff at bumzbrew@comcast.net.

The new Yahoo users group thewhales, is up and running.  However, not everyone has found their way there over to this new site so the verdict is still out if folks like this users group better than the old Whales member’s only AOL site. If you are a member and have not received an invitation to the new site send Bobby a note at rmierzej@telcordia.com and he will invite you to the site.  We will discuss at the August meeting.

The group also discussed opportunities for New Whales Shirts and Pint Glasses.  Gary has canvassed the membership with an e-mail requesting design ideas for a new round of shirt purchases.  Additionally, Newman has agreed to help by working with some of his design connections to get the ideas onto paper.  At the meeting Dave passed around one potential design, but there was no consensus as of yet.  Luke also made the suggestion of putting JJ Bitings logo somewhere on the shirt that seemed to be well received.  There is also some debate over changing the current logo.  Prez recalled that the last round of shirt and logo design had taken two years.  We should be able to beat that time span, but there will be more discussions to come.


Jody continues to update the WHALES brewing database data for 2007.  When you brew send me an e-mail at moffamily@comcast.net.  In the e-mail tell me brewing date, how many gallons, what style you brewed, the OG, and what the % alcohol you expect.  I can also track wine, cider and mead as well. 

The club continues to seek out volunteers to make presentations at club meetings.  Members can discuss anything from beer styles, equipment, techniques, ingredients, or any other topics of general interest.  The club is also looking for folks interested in setting up some class trips to different breweries or local apiaries etc.  Contact Prez or Luke if you are interested in making a presentation or setting up a trip.  It is important to let Prez, Luke or Jody know when a presentation is planned for the meeting, we will be sure to allow enough time for it, and we will try to ensure that the presenter has the floor.   

The Flight:
The July flight of beers and mead was a little more manageable with only 6 brews to taste.  Starting the flight was Luke’s excellent Cyser made with Cider Day cider.  This was followed by a pair of American Pale Ales from Jody and Levi.  Big Bill poured some of the Big Brew Griffin Spit IPA.  The beer, made with all Summit hops, had an excellent “Piney” aroma and bitterness, with no perceptible harshness.  Uncle Leo presented a bottle of a Whales Big Brew Oak Aged Imperial Stout. And in honor of the pending departure of the Whales to Ommegang, Rick served the group some Ommegang Hennepin.

Editor’s Note:
I spent some time looking through my notes, and wanted to pass along some interesting data.  If you add up all of the brews tasted between the Club only Competitions and flight samples, the club has sampled 83 brews.  That is just under 12 tastings per meeting.  Leading all Whales in bringing samples for others to taste was Uncle Leo with 9.  As someone who never tasted a mead before joining, the club has provided me with an excellent opportunity to expand my pallet and homebrew horizons.  I hope that others see the same great benefits of membership.  Long live the Whales!     

Jody, Editor WHALES Official Newsletter