2010 February Meeting #136

The Official WHALES Newsletter and Minutes - February 2010 - Issue #136

Woodbridge Homebrewers Ale & Lager Enthusiasts Society

Crafting Award Winning Beer, Mead, and Cider Since 1996



Dues, Big Beer Night, War of the Worts, holiday party, tasting glasses, Club Only Competition Future Schedule, Grant Stile of Stile Apiary (That Honey Place), Club Size, American Ales COC, National Homebrew Competition Regionals, Malt Conditioning, Treasury Report, Pub Crawl.


February 20th - War of the Worts Homebrew Competition.

March 13th - Nick's "mostly German" Pub Crawl - Zum Schneider, Blind Tiger, Lederhosen

March 16th - Club Meeting - Club Only Comp (BJCP Category 10 - American Ales)



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.  Bobby welcomes club member article contributions and new content ideas to the website.  If you are a member and do not have access to the site, please contact Bobby M. at (Bobby_M@whalesbrewclub.com) and he will send you your login information. Also, as a reminder to the newer members, please introduce yourself in the new members discussion forum and post a picture of yourself in the member headshots section of the photo gallery so everyone can get to know you. If you need more info on how to do this, check out the "how this website works" article.

Dave N. (Dave_N@whalesbrewclub.com) is the official WHALES club librarian and maintains the database of materials in the "WHALES Physical Library Collection" section of the clubs website. The WHALES physical library collection contains over 30 items that can be checked out and it is free for club members. If you would like to check out any materials from the library, please post a comment in the "WHALES Physical Library Collection" section of the clubs website and Dave will bring the requested item to the next club meeting. Our newest addition to the collection is the Beer Wars DVD.

Jody M. 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 National Homebrewers Conference is coming to Minneapolis in June. It may seem to be a long time from now but it's a good time to book your hotel room and flights and register for the conference. Several WHALES are already committed to going so if you were hesitating for fear of being the only NJ brewer out there, get moving. The AHA website says that the hotel is nearly sold out and they'll be opening up a block of rooms in a hotel next door. Lastly, Gary has sign up sheets to become a new/renewed AHA member (with your complimentary subscription to Zymergy magazine) which will get you $5 off your annual membership (reg price of $38).

In case you didn't know, you can see a full list of dues paying members and their roles in the contacts/member list section of the website (members only)


The Tuesday February 16th meeting was held at JJ Bitting as usual with about 40 Whales in attendance. New treasurer Keith Story and secretary Bobby M showed up early to continue the dues-collection process before the meeting officially started.

Gary called the meeting to order and invited newer members to introduce themselves to the club and share any information they'd like. It was a nice mix of newer and experiences brewers who seemed pretty eager to contribute to the club.

The next topic was a quick summary of the WHALES holiday party that we held in January. Bobby's mother does part-time catering and provided most of the hot food food at her cost. If you enjoyed the food, please keep her in mind for your future catering needs. It was also noted that the last Friday, Keith Story hosted the annual Big Beer night. This was an event that was once isolated to Big Belgian Beers when Luke hosted it in the garage but it had been expanded to include all kinds of big beers that start at a minimum of 8% ABV when Keith started hosting last year. The turnout this year wasn't stellar because it followed a big snow storm but the 15 or so WHALES that did show up had a great time sipping flavored ethanol and enjoying everyone's company.

Next up, the club welcomed guest speaker Grant Stiles of Stiles Apiary (aka That Honey Place in Fords, NJ). Grant is a migratory bee keeper with about 2000 colonies. The migratory aspect means that he moves the bees, typically along the Eastern U.S. states following the crop pollenation schedules as necessary. The bees start in N. Carolina in the spring for blueberries and are then trucked up to NJ for blueberries and cranberries in the early summer, and then finish up at the Canadian border for honey production into the fall. His honey collection facility and store is in Fords, NJ where he sells honey and beeswax candles and soaps.

A member asked what varieties of honey he produces. Grant explained that although honey processed in the early spring is "blueberry" it's difficult to isolate a varietal honey in a migratory set of colonies due to the crop overlaps. Any honey that is of mixed variety is classified as wild flower. It is also likely that bees will pull nectar from wild flowers surrounding the fields of intentionally pollenated crops.

Another member brought up the topic of bee colony loss. Grant suggested this is a concern of all bee keepers worldwide. Years ago, an average bee keeper could expect to lose about 10% of their beers every year while the current loss is near 30%. Last year was the worst for him so far. Though the cause is not fully known, speculation has revolved around systemic pesticide use and other chemicals that combine in the soil to create poison for the bees. He suggested that bees are attracted to dandalions due to high nutritional value but humans contaminate them with pesticides to get them out of their lawns. He also explained that migratory bees are isolated to single food sources for periods of time and moved often, both of which is unhealthy for them.

On a lighter note, Grant was asked about bee stings. He estimates an average of 20 stings per day which is probably twice as many as an average person endurs in their lifetime.

Although it's impossible to summarize everything here, Grant spent a lot of time entertaining a number interesting bee keeping topics and fielding countless questions. The WHALES really appreciate his time and effort to come talk to us. If you're looking to buy honey for a braggot or mead project, go see Grant and bring your own buckets.

picture of honeyTo cap off a lively discussion on honey, Gary provided samples of three different types of honey to demonstrate how the color, aroma, and flavor of different varieties of honey can be. The samples were Tupalo, meadowfoam and blackberry. Grant mentioned that Tupelo is an expensive honey that comes from a tree in Florida and it is the only honey that must be lab certified as to their minimum concentration of actual Tupelo pollen. Meadowfoam is said to have a flavor reminiscent of marshmellows which is why Gary and Keith S. are making a Meadowfoam and cocoa nib "Smores Mead".

In order to wash down the sweet honey, Raspberry meads from Long Island and Redstone Meaderies were poured. We are all about fermentation afterall.

Finally, before leaving the topic of honey, our very own beekeeper Jay Desimone was congratulated on his strong showing at the 2009 NJ Honey show for his meads and other honey products. 

Gary continued the meeting by reminding everyone that Keystone Hops "War of the Worts" competition is this coming Saturday February 20th at Iron Hill Brewery. He dropped off 23 WHALES entries last week. A few Whales are rumored to be either stewarding or judging the comp. Results will likely be posted on our site in the forums prior to the "official" announcement going out if we have someone attending.

Speaking of  competitions, If you haven't sent anything to WOW in February, you still have time (barely) to brew in preparation for the March 16th club meeting's Club Only Competition for American Ales (BJCP Category 10). If you recall, Brad led the club through an American Ale tasting in November to help you decide what to brew. If you really want to make a run for 2010 HBOY, you really have to enter in most of the club only comps.

Finally, it's already time to start preparing for the National Homebrew Competion Regional. The club will be collecting entries at the March meeting. This is the big one. If you think you have some kick ass homebrew, it's time to bring it. The club wants to highly encourage you to enter this competition for a number of reasons. First, it is a chance to have your beer tasted and evaluated by some of the country's best judges. Second, it puts the club in a better position to qualify and potentially win this year's Homebrew Club of the Year and/or Gambrinus award. Don't worry, no one will know if your beer scores a 5 out of 50. Take a shot!

Bobby provided a short talk on the topic of malt conditioning or "wet milling" as mentioned in the latest BYO article by Chris Colby. Having heard of this before, Bobby decided to try a simple comparison between wet milled and dry milled grain. The process he followed was to load up a spray bottle with about 3oz of water and spritz the grain evenly, mixing occassionally (the rate worked out to about 1oz per 5lbs of malt). After spraying all the water and mixing well, let it sit for 10-15 minutes and then run it through your mill as usual.

Bobby also passed around containers with some milled grain both dry and conditioned for comparison. The wet milled malt exhibits less hull shredding while still getting the starch exposed. It allows you to tighten down the mill gap to as low as .030" (about the thickness of a credit card) while still maintaining excellent lauterability in the mash tun. Members are encouraged to try this technique for their next brew and report back any observations. If you missed the presentation, Bobby has a  video on youtube on the topic.

Before giving up the mic, Bobby also gave an update on the club website. The web server space we've been using for nearly two years was donated by brewsites.com. We've since outgrown the space so it was time to start paying. It's only $45 a year for triple the space. We can now relax some of the image size limits in the photo gallery and leave us plenty of room to grow. In addition, Keith Story (treasurer) noted that the monthly treasury report will be posted on the club website for member access following each meeting.

The next topic was that of club growth and the fact that it has become a cause for concern due to meeting crowding. The steering committee sent out an email announcement of the situation asking members to weigh in on the topic on the "suggestion box" discussion forum on the website. Gary urged everyone to participate in the discussion to that the steering committee can better present all viable options for vote.

Gary mentioned that we had originally planned to begin sampling the Sensory Training Kits that the club approved purchase of from Siebel a couple months ago. However, since we discovered the kit had a 6 month shelf life, it was decided to shoot for starting at the May meeting.

"Crazy Frank" had planned a giveaway for this month but couldn't make it to the meeting. The giveaway will be held over until March. For those who don't know already, Frank really wants to see more participation on the club's website so he's been throwing out tasks that each member must perform to become eligible for the random drawing each month. The prizes have been donated from all kinds of beer related business. This month's task was to post your brewing #1 brewing tip.


Um, has anyone seen the flight list? From memory:

Sergio's Honey IPA, Bill C's IPA, Mike D's Stout, Colin's Trippel, Andrew's Zinfindel. Help me out guys.. what did you bring?


The March 16th  meeting is as usual on the 3rd Tuesday of the month, 8pm, upstairs loft at JJ Bittings.

Keith Story, will continue collecting the 2010 dues. Please do not make him chase you around for several months. 2009 members are expected to renew by the March meeting per the club bylaws. The dues amount remains the same as the previous year.

Don't forget your American Ales for the COC.

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 the steering committee (steering@whalesbrewclub.com) if you'd like to contribute to a meeting. We will be sure to allow enough time for the speaker and we will try to ensure that the presenter has the floor.

Finally, keep in mind that the steering committee meets just about every 2nd Tuesday of the month so if there is any topic you'd like discussed regarding just about anything the club does, email us.
-Bobby M

Club Secretary and Webmaster.