2009 April Meeting #126

The Official WHALES Newsletter and Minutes - April 2009 - Issue #126

Woodbridge Homebrewers Ale & Lager Enthusiasts Society - Est. 1996



May 2nd - World Beer Festival - Raleigh, NC

May 19th - Pre-sale tickets go on sale for the Great American Beer Festival - Denver, CO

May 30th - SAVOR American Craft Beer & Food Experience - Washington, DC (event sold out)

June 3rd - June 7th - Mondial de la biere - Montreal, Canada

June 6th - BUZZ OFF Homebrew Competition - West Chester, PA

June 18th - June 20th - National Homebrew Conference - San Francisco, CA

June 20th - 13th Annual Garden State Craft Brewer's Guild Festival - Camden, NJ

July 17th - 18th - Vermont Brewer's Festival - Burlington, VT

July 19th - Tickets go on sale for the October 17th Newtown Brewfest - Newtown, PA

July 21st - Club Meeting - Club Only Comp (BJCP beer category 7 - Amber Hybrids)

July 31st - August 2nd - Ommegang's "Belgium Comes to Cooperstown" festival (event sold out)

September 15th - Club Meeting - Club Only Comp (BJCP beer category 3 - European Amber Lagers)

September 24th - 26th - Great American Beer Festival - Denver, CO

October 17th - Newtown Brewfest - Newtown, PA

November 7th - 8th - 15th Annual Franklin County Cider Days - Franklin County, MA



"If you are a homebrewer and you visit the brewery without homebrew, you aren't getting in." - Dave Hoffman, brewer and owner of Climax Brewing Company



Check the Whales website at (http://www.whalesbrewclub.com) for the latest announcements, meeting minutes, and calendar updates.  Feel free to upload pictures, review beers/bars, and post comments in the forums.  If you are a member and do not have access to the site, please e-mail Bobby M. at (Bobby_M@whalesbrewclub.com) and he will invite you to the group.

Just a friendly reminder that it's that time of the year again for club dues.  Annual club dues are still a very modest $40 per member and can be paid directly to our club treasurer, Mike V. (Mike_V@whalesbrewclub.com), at the next meeting.



The Tuesday April 21st meeting was held upstairs at J.J. Bittings with another near capacity crowd of 36+ Whales and guests in attendance.  Thanks again to Mike and August for their continued support of the clubs endeavors.

We had the pleasure of having Dave Hoffmann from Climax Brewing Company as a guest speaker.  Climax started about 13 years ago as a tiny 4 barrel brew house with just 5 tanks but has since grown into a 15 barrel, 15 tank brew house.  They are very proud to be the oldest micro-brewery in New Jersey.  Dave did a quick presentation about how he went from being a homebrewer to a homebrew store owner to a commercial brewer.  He emphasized that balance is the key to producing a good beer and that all of the beers from Climax are brewed according to the style guidelines.

Dave also discussed lager beers and the processes that he uses in creating them at Climax.  He said that the recipe formulation for a lager is similar to that of and ale and that you should stick to using noble hops.  Regarding pitching and fermentation, Dave said that the process that he uses is to pitch a large starter at ale temperatures (60-68F), wait for signs of active fermentation, then drop the temperature 10 degrees every 24 hours, finally letting the beer ferment at 57-58F.  A diacetyl rest can be performed after fermentation has ended to help scrub out sulfer dioxide and diacetyl but it is usually not necessary due to the higher fermentation temperatures (57-58F).  Lager the brew for 4-6 weeks at 38F, keg or bottle, and enjoy!

Dave was also kind enough to bring in 5 different brews from Climax for us to sample and discuss.  We tasted and discussed his Helles, Cream Ale, ESB, Nut Brown Ale, and American IPA.  All of them were excellent examples of their style and tasted great.  We would like to thank Dave for his time, his presentation, and his generosity with his brews and ask that he come back again soon.

Vito Forte from the Coppermine Pub in North Arlington, NJ was at the meeting and took a minute to tell us about his pub, their exemplary 20 tap and 60 bottle beer selections, and to lead us in a sampling of two commercial brews; a JK Skrump's Hard Cider and a Captain Lawrence Imperial IPA.  Vito also mentioned that on Thursday, May 28th, from 3pm to close the pub will be having a Captain Lawrence Brewing Company tap event with 6 Captain Lawrence beers on tap.  They plan to have on tap their FreshChester Pale Ale, Double IPA, Brownbird Brown Ale, Liquid Gold, Smoked Porter, and Xtra Liquid Gold.  We would like to thank Vito for attending the meeting and for bringing the two brews for us to sample and discuss.  Make sure to check the Coppermine Pub website for event updates and drop by the pub for a pint or two.

On April 4th, a rather large contingent of WHALES went to New York City for a good old fashioned NYC Pub Crawl.  The journey began at the Bohemian Hall which boasts itself as the last original remaining Beer Garden in all New York City.  From there, they went to Rattle and Hum Bar, Ginger Man, and finished up the day at Stout NYC.  Everyone had a blast and is already looking forward to planning another pub crawl in Philadelphia in the summertime.

On April 16th, a small contingent of WHALES went to the Regal Commerce Center 18 in North Brunswick, NJ to see the premier of the Beer Wars movie followed by a live panel discussion hosted by Ben Stein.  The film is a documentary about the battle for the American beer drinker's money and it has people like Charlie P, Sam Calagione, Jim Koch, etc.  The film received OK reviews from those who attended and should be available on DVD and through Netflix soon if you missed it in the theater.

Judging for the first round of the AHA's National Homebrew Competition took place on April 17th - 19th at the Yard's Brewery in Philadelphia, PA.  There were over 600 entries and Gary and Beth both attended the event as stewards.  Keith Seguine took a second place in the Pilsner category, Colin Falkinburg took a second place in the Strong Ale category, and Gary Weston took a first place in the Melomel (fruit mead) category, a second place in the Traditional Mead category, and a third place in the Specialty Cider and Perry category.  We wish all three WHALES the best of luck at the second round judging which will be held June 18th - 20th at the AHA's 2009 National Homebrewer's Conference in Oakland, CA.

Back in November 2008, the Harvest Moon Brewery and Cafe in New Brunswick, NJ held a homebrew competition where the winner would have their winning recipe scaled up and brewed on the their 10 barrel (310 gallon) system and served on tap at the brewpub.  Brad and Jen Jones from the WHALES club took first place with their Chamomile and Teavana "Tranquil Dream" Tea Braggot (half malt, half honey, tons of tea ale).  Second and third place went to two other members of the WHALES club, JD Haesloop and Nick Fox.  On Friday, April 17th, all four of the WHALES went to Harvest Moon and brewed up the braggot with the head brewer, Matt McCord.  JD was kind enough to post some of the pics of the brew day on his website.  The beer should be on tap around mid/end of May so if you are in the New Brunswick area, stop by and have a pint (or two)!

The 2009 Buzz Off Homebrew Competition will be held on Saturday, June 6th, at the Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant in West Chester, PA.  Entries will be accepted May 9th through May 23rd.  Please check the official Buzz Off website for entry forms and drop-off locations.  The WHALES will be coordinating a group drop-off so please feel free to bring any entries to the May meeting and we will ensure that they make it to the competition.

In 1988, May 7 was announced before Congress as National Homebrew Day.  The American Homebrewer's Association created Big Brew as an annual event to celebrate National Homebrew Day not only in the United States, but around the world.  Big Brew is held each year on the first Saturday in May and it's always a great opportunity to check out everyone's brewing set-ups and techniques.  The 2009 Whales Big Brew was held on Saturday, May 2nd, at Keith and Donna Story's place in Piscataway, NJ.  Sometimes, the WHALES brew club projects at the Big Brew but this year everyone brewed whatever they wanted.  The WHALES had 15 participants who brewed 7 batches with a total of 50 gallons being brewed.  Bobby M. video taped the event and created a video which he posted on YouTube.  The AHA is sponsoring their Big Brew YouTube video contest again this year so check out the video as often as you can.  The WHALES came in second place last year for the most watched video so pass the link along.

At the club meeting, we judged extract Beers - all BJCP beer categories (1-23); however, extract must make up more than 50% of the fermentables.  The competition was another opportunity to earn Home Brewer of the Year (HBOY) points for 2009.  There were 7 entries but in the end, it was Matt Boyer's Strong Scotch Ale that took first place.  We would like thank all of those that entered and we wish Matt the best of luck in the national competition.

The next Club Only Competition will be held at the July 21st club meeting.  This will be another opportunity to earn Home Brewer of the Year (HBOY) points for 2009.  This competition covers BJCP beer category 7 - Amber Hybrids.

Bobby M. (Bobby_M@whalesbrewclub.com) gave everyone an update as to the status of the Kriek Funky Barrel Project.  It will take some time for the bugs to do their work so the barrel will slumber in Bobby's basement for the majority of 2009.  We'll see if we can't get Bobby to bring in some occasional samples so we can taste the beer as it progresses.

All three of the Cider Barrel Projects (New England, Raspberry, and Common Cider) are doing nicely.  Each of the three barrels contents were transferred to secondary and are now in the secondary/aging process.  We plan to rack the barrels sometime in May so keep an eye out for an announcement from Gary W.

The Imperial Porter Project is coming along nicely as well.  The brew was racked into an apple brandy/bourbon barrel and will rest there for the spring and maybe the summer.  Please contact Jody (Jody_M@whalesbrewclub.com) or check the "2008-09 Imperial Porter Barrel Project" thread in the Forums section of the WHALES webpage for additional information.

The Steering Committee has been diligently working on updating the club's bylaws.  A draft for review by the membership is now available on the WHALES website for review and comments.  The Steering Committee will be meeting to discuss your feedback on June 4th so you need to provide feedback by June 3rd.  The committee will discuss feedback and modify the draft accordingly.  Once the final draft is posted, members will be asked to vote yes or no on accepting them.  Acceptance of the bylaws requires 3/5ths of the club to vote yes. The current plan is to use a website poll that will be open until the day before the June meeting.

The Beer in the News story focused on Flying Fish's "Exit Series" of big beers in big bottles.  Their website states that the beers "will celebrate each exit of the state-long artery that connects us (NJ Turnpike). Each beer will focus on a unique aspect of an individual exit."  I recently tasted the Exit 4 Belgian Tripel and thought it was great!

There was no Gadget Report this month.

Members were reminded that the AHA's 2009 National Homebrewer's Conference will be held in the San Francisco Bay Area this year.  The conference runs from June 18th - 20th and a small contingent of the WHALES plan to be in attendance.  The host hotel for the conference has already been filled but there are additional hotels in the area.

Dave Newman (Dave_N@whalesbrewclub.com) is the Whales librarian and keeps the database on the club website under the "Whales Physical Library Collection" section.  Newman will check the database just before the meeting to see if anyone is on the waiting list for materials from the library so sign up if you want to borrow a book from the Library.

Jody continues to maintain the WHALES brewing database data.  Remember when you brew to send him an e-mail at (Jody_M@whalesbrewclub.com).  In the e-mail, tell him the brewing date, how many gallons, what style you brewed, the OG, and what the percent alcohol you expect.  He 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 breweries, bars, apiaries, etc.  Contact Gary (Gary_W@whalesbrewclub.com), Luke (Luke_K@whalesbrewclub.com), or Brad (Brad_J@whalesbrewclub.com) if you are interested in making a presentation or setting up a trip.  It is important to let Gary, Luke, or Brad know when a presentation is planned for the meeting.  We will be sure to allow enough time for the speaker and we will try to ensure that the presenter has the floor.



1.  Frank Weichmann with his Belgian Witbier

2.  Vito Forte from the Coppermine Pub with a commercial JK Skrump's Cider

3.  Jay DeSimone with a sample of the clubs raspberry cider barrel project

4.  Bradley Jones with a sample of the clubs New England cider barrel project

5.  Bradley Jones and Dave Newman's Belgian Tripel

6.   Bill Comella with his "Black Viagra" Oyster Stout

7.  Dave Newman with the clubs Flanders Red barrel project

8.  Bob Sodon with his Oyster Stout

9.  Luke Kostu with his 1.5 year old oak aged Chipotle Mead

10.  Vito Forte from the Coppermine Pub with a commercial Captain Lawrence Imperial IPA