2003 November Meeting Issue #61

The Official WHALES Newsletter and Minutes
November 2003 Issue #061
Woodbridge Homebrewers Ale & Lager Enthusiasts Society Established 1996

White Labs Yeast Presentation, Beer Storage Presentation, Split Rock, Brew Bash, #8 and #12 AHA Club Only Competitions, 2003 HBOY

"Like an elephant with hops blowing out of his trunk," quoted earlier this year...
"Is Paul still dead?"
"If you drink my hydrometer sample again, I'll kill you."
"At the 11th hour of the 11th month, Piper Mike finally earns a point!"

11/22/03- Judging for AHA Club Only #8 Koelsch and Altbier (GO TRIPKA!!!)
12/02/03- Deadline for AHA Club Only #12 Barleywine and Imperial Stout
12/06/03- Judging for AHA Club Only #12 Barleywine and Imperial Stout (GO LUKE!)
01/10/04- WHALES Christmas Party
01/15/04- Special Presentation by Luke- "Honey"
01/17/04- WHALES Field Trip to Grant Stiles Bee Farm by Luke
02/08/03- Riverhorse Chili Festival
Apr/04 - AHA Club Only #25 Mead
May/04- BREW BASH hosted by Leo and Kim
05/13/04- Deadline for AHA Club Only (no #) "Extract Brew"
05/20/04- Judging for AHA Club Only (no #) "Extract Brew"

WARNING:  This is perhaps the LONGEST newsletter ever written to date.  Chill down a six pack, print this out, and relax in your favorite chair.  Enjoy!

November 01 was BREW BASH (aka Teach a friend to Homebrew Day) at Luke's!  There was a good turnout and the Club brewed up 31 gallons of hooch.  Keith and Janet made both a Cider and a Smoked Winter Ale.  Harry and Tripka all grained 10 gallons of Nut Brown Ale.  Luke and Tripka made Braggot.  Luke also made a Maple Mead.  Kenny brewed a Blowup Barleywine.  Peter and his wife (friends of Steve) dropped by and we tried to make them feel at home.  CJ came but did not brew.  Janet and Luke worked the grill and fired up some good eats.  Special thanks to Luke for hosting yet another successful Bash!

The PALE ALES Homebrew Club in Princeton invited WHALES to their last meeting at Triumph Brewpub on Thursday, November 6th 7:30 pm.  Dr. Chris White of White Labs was their guest speaker and he was GREAT! Thanks Homebrew Joe (Princeton Homebrew 609-252-1800) for the invite!  Mike T, Julianna, Kenny, and Luke attended.

Dr. White is one of the world's leading authorities on brewing yeast, and holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry.  Basically, he started out as a homebrewer with a microscope.  White Laboratories was created in 1996 and quickly became one of the top yeast producers for the beer and wine industry.  80% of the yeast White Labs produces is for the commercial industry serving wineries, breweries, brew pubs, etc.  20% of the business is for homebrewers.  Most of us started using liquid yeast from Chris's competition, Wyeast.  The brewer had to smack a pack several days before it was going to be used.  This was an inconvenient method and White Labs innovated the RTP (Ready To Pitch) method which provides the brewer with a pitchable quantity of yeast straight from a hard plastic vial.  White Labs is based in San Diego, California and has customers world wide.

Chris currently makes 50 different strains of yeast each week.  The process takes 3 weeks.  The first 2 weeks of that is culturing and growing up the strain.  The last 7 days is for testing.  The yeast cells are counted and tested over and over again for purity and mutations.  Pure yeast strains can be stored indefinitely in a yeast bank frozen at -80 degrees Celsius in prepared solutions.

Dr. White gave a presentation about all aspects of brewing yeast including flocculation, attenuation, fermentation temperatures, and flavors.  The floor was open for questions and Chris gave full and lengthy answers.  Some of the questions were:

How many times can yeast be reused?
Commercial breweries that have a yeast laboratory can use yeast hundreds of times if continually propagated and cared for.  Most breweries and brewpubs don't have a lab, however.  These commercial brewers can safely reuse yeast 5 to 10 times.  Chris recommends that homebrewers only repitch yeast 2 or 3 times.

How long can yeast be stored?
In a proper solution at -80 degrees Celsius, yeast can be stored forever.  With the White Labs vials that we as homebrewers use, the shelf life is 4 month's.  It is highly likely though if the vial is refrigerated, there will still be some yeast cells alive even after a year or more.

What is the best amount of yeast to pitch?
A lot.  Most homebrewers under pitch.  Under pitching creates a condition where higher yeast growth is required for fermentation.  This higher growth can result in a beer with more esters.  Over pitching is seldom done, but if it were, this creates a condition where the pitched yeast is the main fermenting agent, instead of new healthy cells. 

How much oxygen does yeast need?
A lot.  You cannot give yeast too much oxygen.

What is the best way to introduce oxygen?
Most homebrewers shake their carboys after pitching.  While this does work, it does not provide the optimum amount of oxygen to be dissolved into solution.  Pure oxygen can be used, however it can result in excessive foaming of the wort, especially in higher gravity beers.  Chris recommends that homebrewers should use filtered air through an aquarium pump for 20 to 30 minutes.  Oxygen is necessary for the yeast to reproduce with strong cell walls.  There is a new trend in the brewing industry with the use of pure oxygen, and Chris thinks this might prove to be a better way to go.  Instead of adding oxygen to the wort, add it to the yeast. 

Can brewers yeast be used to make bread?
Yes, but it takes too long to rise.  Bread yeast is a different breed, selected to make dough rise quickly.  There are more than 500 species of yeast.  Within a single specie, there can be literally thousands of genetically distinct strains.  Brewers concentrate on basically 2 species, ale and lager yeast.

As homebrewers, we use malt extract to make yeast starters.  What does White Labs use to culture their yeast?
Dry malt extract.  White Labs is in effect brewing beer and throwing out the wort.

As homebrewers, we are always told to use dry malt extract for yeast starters.  Can liquid malt extract be used?
Yes, there is no reason not to use liquid malt extract.  It works just fine.

How can a stuck fermentation be fixed?
Rouse the yeast gently back into solution.  If that doesn't work, add more fresh yeast.

How can we check the quality of our yeast?
Since most of us do not have yeast laboratories, we have to rely on simple sensory perceptions.  Smell it.

There were many, many other questions asked and answered.  Dr. White gave out free vials of yeast to all attending.  (There were about 40 of us.)  Some people got more than one.  Chris stayed after the meeting as well to answer questions one on one.  DON'T TOSS OUT YOUR EMPTY YEAST VIALS!  Empty White Labs yeast vials can now be redeemed for cool stuff like beer glasses and tee shirts.  If you save up 5,000 vials, Dr. Chris White will personally fly to your home and brew with you for a day!  This was a very educational session, and thanks again to Homebrew Princeton Joe and the Pale Ales Club for inviting us!

The WHALES November 2003 homebrew club meeting was held at J.J. Bitting on Thursday the 20th.  Those in attendance: Paff, Tripka, Julianna, Steve, Luke, Paul, Piper Mike, Keith, Kenny, Crazy John, and Robin.  Dana was also there, but did not attend the meeting.

Treasurer Tom Paffrath thought it would be a good idea to include our Club Dues money balance in the newsletter.  Our balance as of this moment is $340.  Dues are $36 per member per year.  Dues money pays for beer sample cups, shipping costs to Club Only Comps, some picnic expenses, some party expenses, some web site expenses, etc.  How the dues money is spent, usually calls for a vote, and is done at a meeting.  That is why if you are dues paying member it is so important to attend the meetings.

Mike Tripka made a bulk hop purchase for the Club.  Everyone had their wish lists fulfilled.  In bulk, some hop varieties are as cheap as 32 cents an ounce.  Thanks Mike for coordinating the purchase.  Also, Luke's bulk Oxygen Absorbing Bottle Cap order came in and was distributed at Brew Bash.  Club members that wanted in got away with 7 gross of caps each for a mere fraction of their usual cost.

The WHALES Annual Christmas was discussed.  It will be held Saturday, January 10th.  Where is still to be determined?  It was suggested that for $60, a 15 person van could be rented and a designated driver would be used.  An alternative suggestion was to take the train somewhere.  Details still need to be worked out.

Keith has been to Heavyweight Brewery recently and sampled Tom's newest beer, a Belgian Strong Dark.  The brewery has expanded and Tom Baker agreed to be a guest speaker at a WHALES meeting some time in 2004.

Luke came across a MUST HAVE beer so if you see it, buy it.  It is a wheat and rye beer from Burgerbrau called Roggenbier.  He says it was worth every bit of the $8.50 each he paid for it.

Luke has volunteered to do a Special Presentation at our January meeting on Thursday the 15th.  The topic will be "Honey."  This will be followed up Saturday, January 17th with a WHALES field trip to Grant Stiles Bee Farm.

The Club had to vote on who's beer to send for the AHA Club Only Category #12 Barleywine and Imperial Stout.  Almost everyone agreed that these are 2 separate styles and should not be combined.  The current BJCP guidelines have them in the same category, however.  The only thing they have in common would be alcohol by volume.  Other than that, they are totally different styles.  That said, we had one tough time deciding on one of the 8 homebrews presented.  There were 7 Barleywines from Kenny, Mike T, Mike M, Luke, Keith, Tom P, and Steve.  Kenny also brought the lone Imperial Stout.

1) Imperial Stout by Kenny- creamy, nice head, good sting, roasty, dry
2) Barleywine by Tripka- darkest of all the barleywines, nicely warming
3) Barleywine by Luke- 2nd darkest in color, 7.4% Moose Juice from October 2001
4) Barleywine by Keith- lightest color of all, very high alcohol
5) Barleywine by Kenny- finest lace and head of the barlewines, 20 months old
6) Barleywine by Tom- tastes of an older and more mellow barleywine
7) Barleywine by Piper Mike- very rich and hoppy, nice lace, big punch
8) Barleywine by Steve- very nice flavor, some sediment, good kick

This was one of the toughest votes again, because EVERYONE is making great beers.  Nice job by all the brewers.  CONGRATULATIONS LUKE for being selected!  Luke's Barleywine got 5 votes out of a possible 9.

Keith took the floor and did a Special Presentation about "Beer Storage."  His focus was on high gravity beers meant to age.  The presentation included samples of beer stored at cellar temperature vs. beer stored refrigerated.

The AHA recommended Keith to store his beer at cellar temps.  The AHA said this was anywhere from 55 to 75 degrees.  Tom Baker of Heavyweight (who brews ONLY high gravity beers) was more specific.  His recommendation for proper storage and aging was 55*F.  He noted that colder temperatures takes the beer longer to mature, but less time to break down.

Keith's side by side samples for the presentation were beers stored at basement temperatures, as well as beers stored in the refrigerator.  It should be noted that Basement temperatures are not the same as cellar temperatures.  Keith's basement varies anywhere between 55* and 85*.

1) German Pils lagered 6 weeks from 04/26/03 at 5.9% ABV
The fridge beer and basement beer both looked the same and poured with the same head.  It was very light in color and had a very tiny bubbles.  2 tasters liked the fridge beer better while 1 taster liked the basement beer better.  Everyone else could not tell any difference.  The basement beer seemed to have more fruity esters but the beer was a damn good one either way.

2) Dopplebock 04/13/03 using yeast from Ramstein at 7.8% ABV
The cellar beer had some bitey, slightly astringent taste to it while the fridge beer seemed smoother and cleaner tasting

3) Scotch Ale 03/30/03 2 hour boil 8.75% ABV
Nice malty and sticky sweet without being cloying.  Consensus was "THAT'S GOOD"!  Patty gave it a big thumbs up.  The fridge beer never carbonated.  This was a sample from the cellar beer.  It was still flat with little carbonation but very tasty indeed!

The bottom line?  Store your beers in a cool dark place.  Thanks Keith for the presentation!

We started out at the J.J. Bitting bar, had 8 Barleywines, 1 Imperial Stout, 3 from Keith's presentation, and now...

1) Koelsch by Luke-
This was the beer Luke brewed for the Club Only.  The sample we had was lagered 2 weeks.  The rest of the batch is still lagering for 8 to 10 weeks.  Copper color with tightly knit head and very fine lace.  A future presentation by Luke will involve a side by side tasting of the 2 week lagered beer against the 8 week lagered beer.

2) Ginger Ale by Kenny-
Brewed with fresh ginger root and honey, this ale recipe is a keeper.  Crisp, clean, and delicious!

3) Brown Ale by Steve-
This is an American Brown 6 weeks in the bottle.  Steve has made Brown's before (he was voted in for a Club Only) but this batch he boiled longer and added more hops.  He experimented with Prime Tabs, using 3 per bottle.  The batch carbonated but there was no head.  Great flavor!

4) Winter Warmer by Tripka- This beer was created in September, brewed  with orange peel and dry hopped.  Very NICE!  Everyone that tasted it had the same comment.  "We don't like spice beers but THIS one is NICE"!  Good job from Big Johnson Brewery.

5) 1999 Big Foot from Paul
6) 2000 Samichlaus from Paul
7) 1997 Samichlaus from Paul
Wow, thanks for the treat Hophead!  The 99 Bigfoot was cellared, never refrigerated.  It "lost it" was the verdict.  4 years old and it did not hold up well.  Last years was great.  This vintage was past peak.  The 2000 Sami was once a Guinness record holder checking in at 14%.  CJ wanted to know if he could make this at home.  The 1997 Sami was MUCH better.  Wow, what a big deal!  Very similar in style to a triplebock.


Prejudging for the Club Only Category 8 Koelsch and Altbier was held at Luke's Brew Bash.  We had 4 Club members brew for the competition and the judging was very tough.  All of beers made by Steve, Keith, Luke, and Tripka were very good.  Each brewer receives one point for trying.  Tripka was selected and earns one more.  The judging for the event was held November 22nd.  As of yet, no results have been posted.  Good luck Mike!

Recapping above, the following brewers receive one point for brewing a barleywine entry for prejudging.  Kenny, Mike T, Mike M, Luke, Keith, Tom P, and Steve.  Kenny also brought an Imperial Stout (does that count for another point)?.  Luke earns one more for being selected.  Good luck Luke!

Keith volunteered to drop off the Clubs beers for the Split Rock Homebrew Competition.  Get this, our Club sent in a WHOPPING 36 entries this year!!  (from only 5 brewers)  Proceeds benefit the Make a Wish Foundation.  All of the brewers sent in more than 1 entry and earn 2 points each for the 2003 HBOY.
Tripka- 8.5 entries (shared one with Luke)
Steve- 7 entries
Luke- 3.5 entries (shared one with Tripka)
Keith- 8 entries
Kenny- 9 entries

WHALES kicked ass.  There were 162 total entries.  WHALES entries were 22% of all the Split Rock entries.  WHALES earned 12 medals.  That means one out of every three WHALES entries won a medal!  We had 5 Gold, 2 Silver, and 5 Bronze.

1st Place- Keith: German Ales and American Dark Lager Category
1st Place Steve: Brown Ales Category
1st Place- Tripka: Porter and Stout category
1st Place- Tripka: English and Scotch Strong Ale Category
1st Place- Kenny: "Other" Belgian and French Ales (other than Belgian Strong)
2nd Place- Keith: German Ales and American Dark Lager Category
2nd Place- Kenny: Smoke and Specialty Category
3rd Place- Keith: German Ales and American Dark Lager Category
3rd Place- Tripka: Fruit/Spice/Wheat Category
3rd Place- Tripka: Porter and Stout Category
3rd Place- Keith: English and Scotch Strong Ale Category
3rd Place- Tripka: Barleywine and Imperial Stout Category


We still have to wait for the last 2 Club Only Competitions (#8 and #12) to finalize the HBOY, but current standings as of 11/24/03 are:

Keith- 34 points
Kenny- 31 points (possibly 32 for Category #12) ?
Tripka- 28 points
Steve- 18 points
Luke- 18 points
Paul- 7 points
Paff- 6 points
Tom T- 1 point
Piper Mike- 1 point
Holy Schmidt's!  We are pleased to announce that at the eleventh hour of the eleventh month, Piper Mike scored ONE FRIGGIN POINT!  WTG MIKE!  We knew you could do it!

WHEW!  What a newsletter!  Time for another 6 pack.
Well, that's all for now, CHEERS!

Happy Thanksgiving.
Kenny / Divorce Court Brew Labs