2009 September Meeting #131

The Official WHALES Newsletter and Minutes - September 2009 - Issue #131

Woodbridge Homebrewers Ale & Lager Enthusiasts Society - Est. 1996

NJ Wine Festivals, 3rd Annual CNJ Beerfest, European Amber Club Only Competition, The WHALES in Zymergy, Cider Day, AHA Teach a Friend to Brew, Oud Bruin Project, Steinbier Project, Kriek Racking, Belgian Strong palette calibration, Website Promotional Giveaways, Drinking, Anarchy, etc.

September 19th - 3rd Annual Central Jersey Charity Beer Festival, Woodbridge, NJ
September 24th - 26th - Great American Beer Festival - Denver, CO
October 3-4th - Alba Vinyard Wine Fest - Hunterdon, NJ
October 17th - Newtown Brewfest - Newtown, PA
November 7th - 8th - 15th Annual Franklin County Cider Days - Franklin County, MA
November 14th - AHA Teach a Friend to Brew (one week late) Location TBD
Novermber 21st - Beerfest and Competition at Splitrock Resort- Poconos, PA

Note: see the club events calander for most recent additions/changes.


"There are no strong beers, only weak men" - Bumper Sticker Somewhere


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. and he will provide you a login and password.

Dave_N is the Whales librarian and keeps the database on the club website under the "Whales Physical Library Collection". Dave will check the comments section just before the meeting to see if anyone is on the waiting list for materials from the library so sign up by "posting a comment" 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 telling 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. Of course, if you've brewed something you're really proud of, we expect to taste it at the next meeting and it would be great if you posted the recipe in the forums.


The Tuesday August 15th meeting was held upstairs at J.J. Bittings with another great turnout of 30+ Whales and guests in attendance. The fuzzy jotted down list says Frank W, Jay D, Bill C, Nick F, Nate M, Colin F, Prez, Gary W, Bill S, Jim S, Steve S, Craig E, Strachan, Shelton, Marvin, Bobby M, Mike G, Dave N, Tom P, Rick M, and guest/visitors/new members Justin, Joe, Gary R, and Glenn. We apologise if anyone was missed. The hospitality shown by the owner and staff of JJ Bitting is always appreciated by the WHALES.

WHALES Club President Gary Weston kicked off the meeting by welcoming the membership back to JJ's after a field trip meeting to Harvest Moon in New Brunswick.

The club only competition (COC) was the first order of business. The AHA specified the style for this competition as European Amber Lagers, style #3, which includes Vienna Lager and Octoberfest/Marzen. A total of 5 entries brewed by Jay, Nick, Bill Strachan, Bobby, and Tom, comprised entirely of Octoberfest, were judged in this C.O.C. There was an initial 3-way tie between Jay, Bill and Bobby. After a revote, a two way tie remained between Jay and Bobby. Rather than play that game all night, late arrival Rick M was asked to taste both and provide a favorite. Congrats to Jay for edging out the competition and representing the WHALES COC entry at the national level. Good Luck! Jay has recieved points towards the WHALES Home Brewer of the Year program and will get more if his beer wins at the national level.

Gary continued the meeting with a gloat session making reference to this month's Zymergy magazine and the many WHALES accolades contained within its sticky pages. For those who missed it, Bobby, Brad, Jen and Keith are pictured at the opening toast of the NHC. In addition, the WHALES were mentioned as 3rd place winners of the new Gambrinus award. Finally, the club cider that took 1st place in the specialty cider catagory was summarized in the winning recipes section of the NHC wrapup. There's an article dedicated to our presence in Zymergy that can be found on the website. Shhhh....the actual pages were scanned and posted as an attachment.

Gary then spent a moment talking about wine festivals. He attended the Jersey Fresh Wines and Food Festival in Mullica Hill, NJ on August 8/9th and had a great time trying not to get hammered on big wine pours. Additional upcoming festivals in the area were also noted, such as the Oct 3rd event at Alba Vineyard in Hunterdon, NJ. More info can be found at http://www.newjerseywines.com/festivals.html.

It was also noted that NY Craft Beer week was going on (Sept. 11-20) for those who didn't know. Timely information can be found at http://www.nycbeerweek.com/. Gary thought the Scary Dive Bar Pub Crawl sounded especially fun and was happy to find that organizers were planning to repeat it after craft beer week was long over. We'll look out for more on this later.

Another short notice event coming up is the 3rd Annual Central Jersey Beer Festival is happening this Saturday, 9/19/09. In the past two years, the WHALES had been solicited for volunteering at the festival in return for free entry. The club also put on brewing demonstrations in the past but we collectively decided to simply attend and enjoy the beer this year. We hope to see you there from 1-5pm. $20 for 5 breweries worth of beer tasting is not bad.

If that's not enough beer for you, Philly's Oktoberfest is also going on the same day http://www.phillybeerfests.com/. Hey, the second session doesn't start until 6pm so you can make BOTH!! (not really).

Unfortunately, Bill, Nick and Nate are going to miss this entire weekend of festivities because they have to drag their hides to the real Oktoberfest. You know, in Germany? Bastards.

Plans and announcements then moved on to the month of November which is shaping up to be busy. The first weekend, Nov 7/8 is Cider day up in Franklin, MA. A portion of WHALES membership has attended this event over the past several years and everyone always has a great time. The highlights are a cider pairing dinner and of course picking up mass quantities of fermentation-specific cider blends. Hey, 1st place NHC, hint hint. Further organization for this event will be presented at the October meeting.

Since Cider Day falls on the same day as the AHA Teach a Friend to Brew day (as it has in the past), the WHALES typically move the brew day to a week later. Membership voted and decided we'll do the same this year. We're looking for a host to welcome many brewers. Bobby hosted the last two Novembers and his wife hasn't protested yet so we'll see what can be done. Of course if anyone else wants to host, please email Gary and the club will decide in October.

Finally, Nov 21st is also the beer festival and home brewing competition at the Splitrock resort out in the Poconos. This is another competition that will award you point in the Home Brewer of the Year program so get your bottles shined. In addition, a bunch of WHALES typically pool our resources and pack into a rental condo near the event so we can enjoy the festival responsibly. It's actually one of the best beer festival values going at under $30 admission. We hope to see you there.

Bobby discussed a few club brewing projects. The first one is Funky Barrel III which will be a Flanders Brown or "Oud Bruin" which will take the place of the nearly complete Kriek in the Cabernet Barrel. Between forum solicitation and a signup sheet passed around at the meeting, the 12 shares available were just filled. A tentative brew date was set for October 17th but it may be moved to the big brew day on Nov 14th instead. Bobby is obtaining the grain bill for this project and members will be asked for reimbursement of the cost (approx $15). The only thing individual brewers need to supply is an ounce of EKG and a Belgian or neutral ale yeast. As always, participants are encouraged to track latest news on projects in the discussion forum.

The second project that is still in the works, but not quite decided is a stone-boiled beer (Stein Bier) to be brewed sometime in late fall. Dave N. has taken an interest in hosting this brew at his house using his big fire pit. See the threads on the website's discussion forum for discussion and more details!

Frank W. was given the floor to announce a new program to encourage (bribe) members to get on the website more often. He has taken the initiative to solicit donations of shwag, freebies, discount codes, etc from almost 100 breweries, liquor stores and homebrew shops. Perks received will go to members who contribute to the website and stay in touch regularly via the forums. Frank will announce the entry criteria on the new sub forum called "website promotional deals and giveaways" in advance. One time a winner may be selected from those who post a picture in the photo gallery and another time it may be someone who posts a recipe. In some cases, he will select a winner from previous content contributors. It's all designed to keep the membership in touch with each other and make the website the next best thing to a meeting itself.

To kick off the program, Frank awarded two six packs of Long Trail beer. The first recipient (a sixer of Blueberry Wheat) was Brian Y. who was selected randomly from members who posted a reply to Frank's initial post on the new forum. The second recipient (a sixer of Belgian Wit) was Nate Monk who was being rewarded for posting several well written pub reviews in the past month.

While Frank finished up, Gary began pouring and leading a discussion on the Belgian BJCP category 18 (Belgian Strong Ale) in order to help the club calibrate their palettes for November's COC. The following styles/commercial examples were tasted.

18A. Belgian Blond Ale - Leffe
18B. Belgian Dubbel - St. Bernardus Pater 6
18C. Belgian Tripel - La rulles Tripel
18D. Belgian Golden Strong Ale - Duvel
18E. Belgian Dark Strong Ale - St. Bernardus ABT12

Flight tasting started around 9:30pm. See list below.

Rob G's first all grain Blonde Bimbo Ale. (I wish my first AG was this decent).
Jay's Cherry melomel (that's fruited mead)
Guest Joe J's Strawberry melomel
Jay's Vanilla metheglin (spiced mead)
Nick's Hoppy Brown
Marv's Coffee Ale
Justin's Simcoe IPA

For those that stuck around till the wee hours, Ben B also left behind a small bottle of Monk's Flanders Red that a select few dedicated derelicts enjoyed.


Since the October WHALES meeting does not have a club only competition, we may use it as another opportunity for a field trip meeting to Trap Rock Brewpub. Gary hasn't received confirmation from Charlie (the brewer) but will send an email out and post on the website if the meeting is to be held there. Edit: The next meeting will be at JJ Bitting on 10/20/09 because the room at Traprock was not available.

Final plans for the Nov 14th big brew will be decided.

Bobby has volunteered to present and lead a discussion on brew water chemistry and modification at an upcoming meeting. It is also rumored that Brad and Jen are due back from Berlin and we look forward to hearing some great stories and seeing some pictures.

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 if you would like time on the agenda for a presentation. We will be sure to allow enough time for the speaker and we will try to ensure that the presenter has the floor.

For the most up to date information or to sign up for our mailing list, please visit www.WhalesBrewClub.com

This issue of the WHALES newsletter has been brought to you by guest secretary Bobby.