2007 June Meeting Issue #104

The Official WHALES Newsletter and Minutes June 2007 Issue #104
Woodbridge Homebrewers Ale & Lager Enthusiasts Society Established 1996

*July 17th Club Only Comp (Strong Ales)
*July 21st Belgium Comes to Cooperstown (Cooperstown, NY)
*July 27th Luke’s Drive In Movie’s (July 28th rain date)
* September 18th Club Only Comp (Bock)
* October 20th Valhalla: The Meading of Life (HBOY Comp)

Check the member’s only AOL “WHALESCLUB” site 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 know and he will invite you to the group.

"It’s extraordinary how friendly you can make a lot of people on a couple of bottles of beer.”  Baron Frankenstein in James Whales film, Frankenstein, 1931

On Tuesday June 19th the Whales held their monthly meeting on the 2nd floor of our home away from home, JJ Bitings.  The folks at Bitings have been steadfast supporters of our club activities since 1996.  Prez reminded us that Bitings has always generously provided yeast free of charge.  Whales are also welcome to stop by and get advice or an evaluation of their brews by the professionals.  While visiting feel free to donate a few homebrews to August and Mike in appreciation for all of their support. 

Another huge crowd of Whales and potential Whales attended the Tuesday meeting.  The group consisted of Jody, Gary, Gene, Mike V., Kings Keith, Prez, Bill S., and Paff. Also in attendance were Newmann, Bobby, the “Rick”, Luke, Heather, Brad and Jenn, Kings Steve, Colin, Big Bill, Uncle Leo, and Rob and Kristen.  The potential Whales included Nick, Pompeo, and Jim.  Count ‘em up folks, that’s a total of 24 homebrewers and friends!

The WHALES Annual Picnic was held at Veteran’s Park in Piscattaway on June 2nd.  It was a beautiful day for a large group of Whales, their friends, and families to gather and have some terrific food, homebrews, and home wines.  Veteran’s park was an excellent venue as the kids got to play on the playground, and the grown ups got to throw some horseshoes.  Special thanks go out to Brad, Jenn, and Bill for all bringing kegs of homebrew to share with the club.  Brad and Jenn’s portable trash can beer tower was also a huge hit.  Additionally, we thank Uncle Leo for steadfastly manning the grill in order to cook the meat that the club provided.  There were lots of people who also contributed to making the picnic a big success.  &n bsp;  

Congratulations to the Whales who either won or placed in the Buzz Off.  Leading the Whales was Gary, who brewed for the cycle with his  3rd Place Melomel (“Big Prick” Prickly Pear Mead), 2nd Place Semi Sweet Mead, and 1st Place Eisbock.  The Prez pulled in a 3rd with his Munich Dunkel, and a 1st for an American Wheat.  Brad and Jenn had a nice 3rd place showing for their Barley Wine.  King’s Keith also placed 3rd with his Lemon Honey wheat.  For their efforts, Gary, Prez, Brad and Jenn, and Keith earned points for the HBOY competition.

The 2006 Whales Cider Barrel was distributed to the share holders on 6/1/07.  This was the culmination of an adventure that started with Luke traveling to Massachusetts in November of 2006.  Luke brought back over 70 gallons of Cider from Cider Day.  The cider was fermented in a 55 gallon plastic barrel then racked into a Laird’s Apple jack barrel in March.  During the distribution folks were treated to an early tasting from one of Luke’s 1st Ice endeavors.  Thanks again to Luke for organizing the Cider Barrel and keeping it in his basement.

At the last meeting, the Whales decided to produce 2 oak barrels worth of mead.  Luke and Leo have graciously decided to host the Whales Club Mead barrels their basements.  Initial plans have Luke making a semi sweet mead, and Leo producing a dry mead.  Luke gave a nice synopsis of the profile differences between semi sweet and dry mead yeasts.  Luke also talked to Grant Stiles about buying yeast in bulk from the apiary.  Grant agreed to sell the honey at $1.25/lb.  This price is contingent upon the Whales providing their own buckets to transport the honey home.  At this incredible honey price 10, 5 gallon shares were offered in each barrel at $30/share.  A sign up sheet was passed around at the meeting.  10 shares were sold in the semi sweet mead at Luke’s house.  An additional 4 share of dry mead were sold in Leo’s barrel.   The group decided to send out a club wide e-mail to sell the remaining 6 shares of dry mead before allowing folks to buy a second share.  If there is not enough interest in dry mead the second barrel can be changed to semi sweet as well.  The honey purchases and mead prep should occur some time in July.  Look for email notifications to coordinate share purchase, and mead preparation.  If you have interest in the mead barrels please contact Luke at lkostu@yahoo.com.

The Luke Kostu annual movie night will be held on July 27th at 7 PM.  The movie (a choice of some rock and roll movie) will start after dark ~9:00 pm.  This is a BYOB event, described as an evening full of “debauchery” and “Tom Foolery.”  Luke reminded folks to bring their bathing suits if they wanted to spend some time in the hot tub.  Folks can also bring a tent if they want to avoid driving home at the end of the festivities.  Come on out and have some fun with the Whales. 

A large group of WHALES is preparing to attend Belgium Comes to Cooperstown. The event is held on July 21st in Cooperstown, NY.  Ommegang brewery is hosting a slew of Belgian breweries, and Belgian beer distributors. There is phenomenal beer, cool bands, and food available.  Kudos go to Mike V. who discovered that Ommegang had reduced the number of tickets by ½.  By June 5th all of the tickets (600) were SOLD OUT.   The Whales attendees include: Neal, Keith, Uncle Leo, Gary, Rick, Heather, Jody, Mike V., Brad and Jen, Big Bill, Colin and Mrs. Colin.

With the results of the Buzz Off tallied, Colin gave a Home Brewer of the Year (HBOY) report.: Gary almost doubled his point total with an additional 11 points from the Buzz Off. 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.  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.com with a list of your entries and styles submitted at each sanctioned competition.

The next opportunity to earn HBOY points will be the Club Only Competition held at our July 17th meeting.  The style for this competition will consist of category 19 Strong Ales.  This includes Old Ale, English Barleywine, and American Barleywine.  So dig out those secret bottles stashed under the stairs, and share them with the membership.

Keith relayed that the Whales Bourbon Barrel Belgian Tripel continues to dry as the gravity is now down to 1.023. Keith and Gary have decided to continue sampling the barrel as long as they have custody.  We’ll continue to check in on the progress until sometime this fall. 

Brad made a presentation to the club on the advantages of using a Better Bottle.  Brad uses these to ferment all of his homebrew.  The better bottle has some nice features like a racking port and valve, and virtually eliminates the risk of a small pebble on a cement floor cracking your carboy.  The better bottle is also easily sanitized with oxyclean or Star San etc…  Brad also showed off his carboy cover and thermowell setup, which allows for accurate control of fermentation temperature.  The thermowell allow for the temperature probe of the temperature controller to be placed in the middle of the fermentor. 

Dave Newmann handed out an interesting Star Ledger article concerning the Craft Brewing industry in the mid west.  Dave is also looking to set up a class trip to the Ramapo Valley Brewery in Hillburn, New York.  He is planning the trip for some time in August.  Look for additional details to follow.  

Keith also reminded folks that he and Donna are planning a canoe trip on August 11th, down in Double Trouble State Park.  Keith and Donnan need to have a firm headcount for the event by 7/15.  If you are interested in going, but have not already talked to Keith, he can be reached at kstory@khov.com.

Bobby also mentioned that he some instructional video on U-tube.  The video demonstrates the use of a jig with an electric angle grinder that allows for easy conversion of a Keg into a Keggle or Brewing Kettle.  Check out this and some other cool video on www.Youtube.com.  Search for “BobbyfromNJ” to see the video. 

The group gathered at the meeting discussed some ideas for improving our club’s website, Whalesclub.org.  Folks suggested that some of the information is very outdated and gives the impression that the club is not active.  The time of the meetings also needs to be listed on the website.  Members can send additional suggestions for changes to Paff at bumzbrew@comcast.net.

The Whales member’s only AOL site was also discussed.  Folks have recently been unable to post any additional photos as we are limited in the amount of space.  Luke will remove some of the older photos, to free up space.  Also Bobby volunteered to develop a Yahoo users group, and feels that it provides more functionality than the current AOL site.  If the club feels this is a better forum we can switch to it, if not Bobby will delete yahoo users group. The new user group is up and running.  If you are member, and did not receive an invite to the new group send a note to Bobby at rmierzej@telcordia.com.  We can discuss the new site at the July meeting.& nbsp;

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.

Uncle Leo informed the group that the club treasury stands at $769.66.  Additionally, Uncle Leo turned in a large number of the White Labs Vials, to start a library of the style guideline books.  Look for more to come on borrowing these books.

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.  Of the folks that have given me data, we have brewed up to 291 g allons of beer, mead, etc…

The Flight:
This month’s flight consisted of 11 beers and meads.  Bill S. lead the flight with his American Wheat, which was followed by Keith’s award winning Lemon Honey Wheat.  Newmann brought a nice Irish Red and Prez poured an American Amber both made during the Big Brew. Big Bill served some Extra Pale and Bobby poured another American Amber from the Big Brew.  Mike V. delivered an ESB, and Prez followed again with his award winning Munich Dunkel.  Gary then broke the ice with his Prickly Pear Mead and Eisbock.  The “Rick” closed out the flight with a Jopen Koyt, a commercial gruit from Holland.

Editor’s Note:
Interest in homebrewing and subsequently the Whales club continues to grow.  The meetings almost always host over 20 people.  We have an excellent group of active brewers and people who enjoy organizing and participating in events.  So, thank you to all of the people that have helped make the club so successful, and look to improve it in the future.    

Jody, Editor WHALES Official Newsletter