2010 September Meeting #143

The WHALES Newsletter and Minutes - September 2010 - Issue #143

Woodbridge Homebrewers Ale & Lager Enthusiasts Society

Crafting Award Winning Beer, Mead, and Cider Since 1996


Siebel Institute Sensory Training, Double Barrel Framboise Project, Malt Madness, Prez Octoberfest, Central Jersey Beerfest, Beer on the Pier in Belmar, Chelsea Pier Brewtopia festival, GABF Great American Beer Festival in Denver, CO, Stoney Creek, Strong Ale Commercial Calibration, Cider Days, AHA Learn to Brew Day.


September 25th - Beer on the Pier Fest, Belmar, NJ

September 25th - 4th Annual CNJ Beerfest, Woodbridge, NJ (Ooo Beerfest Fight!)

October 1-2 - Brewtopia Beerfest in Chelsea, NYC

October 2nd - Prez's Octoberfest, Woodbridge, NJ

November 6-7 - Cider Day Fest, Franklin Township, Mass.

November 13th - Whales do AHA Learn to Brew a week late.



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. Don't worry, that gallery is for members only. 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, both books and DVDs, 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 additions to the collection are two DVDs from Basic Brewing donated by Gary.

Check out the Crazy Frank section of the member discussion forums on our website to see the list of ongoing discounts at various homebrew stores and other vendors of interest. You'll find a sign up sheet 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).


The Tuesday September 22th meeting was held at JJ Bitting as usual with 38 Whales including new member Anthony D. and a few guests of existing members in attendance. There were two chairs left empty.

The meeting was kicked off at 8pm sharp. The first club activity of the night was kicking off a BJCP calibration activity which was to be spread across the entire night. Due to the upcoming November Club Only Competition for Strong Ales, Gary and Brad brought in commercial examples. The first pour was BJCP cat 19B, English Barleywine. The sample was a Weyerbacher (Easton, PA) Blithering Idiot. BJCP says this style is "the richest and strongest of the English Ales. A showcase of malty richness and complex, intense flavors. The character of these ales can change significantly over time; both young and old versions should be appreciated for what they are. The malt profile can vary widely; not all examples will have all possible flavors or aromas." Brad also commented that these high alcohol beer styles can really benefit from a couple years of aging as long as the brewery handle their bottling with care. It's a good practice to buy a few and tuck a few away with the purchase date written on the bottle somewhere. This allows for vertical tasting over the years so you can experience how beers age and hopefully improve.

After the barleywine tasting we continued tasting our Sensory Training Kits that the club purchased from Siebel. As always, Brad and Jen graciously poured the dosed samples and got them out to everyone quickly despite the social stigma of handling tall boys of the silver bullet. These four samples are the second to last in the kit so there wasn't a unifying theme as we've had in the past. The samples included Acetaldehyde (Green apple flavor and aroma), Papery (Wet Cardboard as a sign of oxidation), Infected (vinegary, sour), and Metallic. The full explanation of characteristics, causes and potential prevention is attached to this web article and available for members below.

While the samples were being poured and distributed, the club welcomed Frank W. to give an overview of his recent trip to Japan and the lengths he went to for good craft beer. Frank put a lot of effort into making an engaging powerpoint presentation with a lot of pictures but he wasn't able to get a loaner projector for the meeting. Nevertheless, he did cover all the basics; Good craft beer is hard to find in Japan, all beer is expensive (about $10 for a decent pint at the bar), and their local "BMC" type macro beer is hands down the worst thing he's ever tasted and puts our domestic lagers on a pedestal in comparison. Franks full presentation will be available for members on the website.

The next Strong Ales sample was poured and this one was an BJCP 19C American Barleywine as interpreted by Stone. Old Guardian is one of their special releases and sits right at about 11% ABV and 95 IBU. Of course, the main difference between the English BW and American is that the latter is usually much more hoppy and bitter via loads of strong American variatal hops. BJCP says "The American version of the Barleywine tends to have a greater emphasis on hop bitterness, flavor and aroma than the English Barleywine, and often features American hop varieties. Differs from an Imperial IPA in that the hops are not extreme, the malt is more forward, and the body is richer and more characterful.Usually the strongest ale offered by a brewery, and in recent years many commercial examples are now vintage-dated. Normally aged significantly prior to release. Often associated with the winter or holiday season."

As if Brad wasn't already doing enough, he provided a short rant about sanitation in our breweries and then facilitated a member discussion on the topic. He begged everyone to spend the small price for Star San and not try to cut corners. When you consider the time and money spent on a batch of beer, it's just not worth trying to be frugal with less effective sanitizers. As discussion about potential sources of cross contamination between deliberately soured beers like Lambics and all other "clean" beers and equipment. Most notably, we brainstormed about the potential of getting contaminants from the gas side of a kegging system and how it may get dirty in the first place. When in doubt, clean it out  (and sanitize it). If a hose might be funky, it's cheap enough to replace.

The final bit of formal tasting concluded Strong Ales calibration flight with 19C Old Ale from George Gale and Co. "Prize Old Ale" (misc years; 2007, 2005, 2002, and 1999. BJCP says " A traditional English ale style, mashed at higher temperatures than strong ales to reduce attenuation, then aged at the brewery after primary fermentation (similar to the process used for historical porters). Often had age-related character (lactic, Brett, oxidation, leather) associated with “stale” beers. Used as stock ales for blending or enjoyed at full strength (stale or stock refers to beers that were aged or stored for a significant period of time). Winter warmers are a more modern style that are maltier, fuller-bodied, often darker beers that may be a brewery’s winter seasonal special offering." Most of the club thought the younger samples were better than the older but all of them were an acquired taste if at all palatable. This isn't a style you come across often.


Gary announced that the last HBOY points eligible competition was Malt Madness on September 11th . Dave R graciously dropped off most of our entries for us. The results are in and two Whales have kept us from being shut out. Keith "prez" Seguine took 2nd for a New England Cider and 3rd for a Southern English Brown. Frank Weichmann also lost is comp medal virginity with a 3rd for a Bourbon Barrel Porter. Hooray!

In a relatively last minute discovery, entries for the upcoming Mead-Only competition Valhalla - The Meading of Life are due on October 16th. This is the only specialty competition that the Whales recognize as HBOY points eligible. It was added to our roster several years ago to encourage members to expand their brewing horizons. You can check out the website for entry info http://www.valhalla-mead.com/ and if you'd like to coordinate a bulk dropoff, talk to Gary or Luke.

Looking WAY ahead, you still have time to brew for the Stoney Creek comp in November which is also WHALES HBOY points eligible. This comp is open to all beer, meads and ciders.  Also, not that you have time to brew for it, we'll be judging category 19 Strong Ales for a club only at the November meeting, start wiping the dust off your 2008 Barleywines. Well, let's put it this way, if you can brew a strong ale in time to win in November, please do it and tell us how. This club only comp is the final chance to earn points in the Home Brewer of the Year contest.

Speaking of HBOY points, Colin tabulated all the most recent points and announced that Nick F. is still in first followed closely by Bobby M and Craig E. Several others are still within striking distance depending on how the next few comps go. The brewer with the most points at the end of the year gets an engraved mug and a their name goes on the HBOY plaque-O-fame which adorns Bittings' brick wall in the upstairs meeting space.


Crazy frank came back with a vengeance this month. Someone contacted him last month claiming to be a former member of the club who's been keeping up with happenings via the newsletters and website. That person wanted to provide the next giveaway prize and suggested it would be $100 cold cash. The only stipulation was that the winner had to use it for brewing related items and it better be good. Frank ran with it and posted the task to gain eligibility for the giveaway. Due to the extreme generosity of our benefactor, Frank thought it only fitting to ask people to extend their own generosity by offering up spare brewing parts, equipment, ingredients to any member that wants it. Several people posted their surplus on the forum. David C's name was pulled out of the hat and we wait to hear what the money will be spent on.


There are quite a few beer-intensive events in September. Sept 16th kicked off the coveted Great American Beer Festival, Denver, CO. A few WHALES made it out there. Bill C booked it through Ale Street News which included a lot of extra goodies like local brewing tours and food pairings. Bobby M was able extend a long week of business travel in the Denver area in order to meet up with Bill at the Thursday night session. We later ran into Brian S. and we hear that Brian Y and Ryan K were also there. We hit a local favorite first and met up with Gretchen from Basil T's brewpub (Redbank, NJ) and sampled the four beers they were pouring, all very good, especially the Bitter. From there, we went back and forth between sampling randome unknown brewery stuff and seeking out hard to find favorites like Russian River Supplication and Angel's Share, Lost Abbey Red Poppy, New Glarus Enigma and Raspberry Tart, Alaskan Smoked Porter and many others.

Nick, Nate and Bobby met up at the DEUTSCHER CLUB Biergarden Open House in Clark, NJ on 9/17. The private club has several events open to the public throughout the year and it's a great little spot. German food and beer, what's not to like?

We're running into dueling local beerfests on Sept25th. You must choose between Beer on the Pier Fest, Belmar, NJ and the 4th Annual CNJ Beerfest, Woodbridge, NJ (Ooo Beerfest Fight!). We know there are at least a couple Whales committed to going to either one. The Brewtopia beer festival in Manhattan starts on Oct 1st. Tickets now seem to be available on the website but they're a bit saucy at $67. For a more frugal option, Keith S. (Prez) is also hosting his annual Octoberfest on the 2nd, rain or shine. Bring your beers, food item, litre steins and Prost! See the members only calendar for details.

Looking ahead to November 6th and 7th, a good number of Whales are planning to make the annual trip up to New England for cider days, a two day festival of seminars, pairings and fun related to hard cider.

Once again, cider days conflicts with the AHA's Learn to Brew day (Formally Teach a Friend to Homebrew Day). The Whales usually just postpone our brew gathering for one week and do it the second Saturday in November. This year that would be Nov 13th. The club is looking for a volunteer to host the club brewout at their home. You'll need to provide access to water, electricity, bathroom, and a place to dump spent grain (a lot). The more flat, hard surface area you have the better. Make your intentions known via the forum or email the steering committee.


The steering committee met in September to discuss two topics. First was early planning of the holiday party in January. It was decided that it will always be the 3rd Saturday in January so it will be Jan 15th this year. Membership agreed that a hall rental was the way to go and everyone was asked to forward their suggestions for a similar location ASAP. The VFW we used last year was close to the train station and that's a goal we have ongoing. If you know of a nice hall that will support about 100 people, near a train station, for under $400, let the steering committee know. We must book before October.

The second topic was that of the long discussed membership cap. We know that the membership will be capped at some number but the decision on how to regulate member entry and potentially politely asking non-participating members to "not renew" are being discussed. The majority of voters selected the option to scrutinize member participation, but it did not receive 60% of the vote as required to change the bylaws. However, since it was the majority choice, the committee drafted a new poll simply asking for permission to enact this measure. The committee is asking that all members vote on the poll when its availability is announced via email.

As always, members may voice concerns and make suggestions to the committee by emailing us Steering@whalesbrewclub.com


Gary said that just about all of the Apple Port has been distributed save for about 3 gallons.

The next project will be a Raspberry Lambic (Framboise)  to the tune of 113 gallons between two barrels; one at Bobby's and one at JD's. The base beer is going to be the same as the previous Kriek, a light ale made with Pilsner Malt and Flaked Wheat. After being fully fermented out in the barrel, Raspberry juice concentrate, equal to about 100lbs of fresh fruit, will be added. The total project length will be about 16-18 months. 

We are planning to use the club brew system to fill each barrel so it will likely take two separate brew days. Realistically, the sessions should happen at the barrel hosts' homes sometime in mid October. Bobby is targeting October 10th or 17th depending on the readiness of the big burner project. Most of the grain is coming from the group buy so the cost is way down near $5-10 a share for the wort. Bobby collected $15 from each shareholder to cover the cost of $330 worth of red raspberry concentrate.

JD still needs to coordinate the pickup of the barrel and cradle from Gary.

The barrel at Bobby's will need to be emptied of the Flanders Brown project. Initial feedback from prior tastings was that it was plenty sour and could use a blending especially if the barrel sits another couple months. Its inclusion in this month's COC confirmed that it is far too sour as is to represent the style properly. Shareholders are encouraged to brew a blending batch or solicit a fellow club member to do so.  Brew a batch of lightly hopped, full bodied brown ale and ferment it out. After a couple weeks start blending. Keg and chill immediately or bottle in champagne or Belgian bottles.

Collection of the Flanders Brown shares should happen the Friday or Saturday before the Lambic brew date. TBD.


Brad brought in his 6 gallon better bottle with racking port. He's shown it off a before but there are many new members that may think glass carboys are still king. Brad explained a bit about why he likes the better bottles, how he cleans them and how he racks beers out of them into the kegs.




The flight got a late start but most of it was poured. Prez poured the prize winning New England Cider, Young Joe J poured a very hoppy pale ale, Brand new member Anthony poured a Napa Merlot (see how classy the Whales have become?). Mike D unleashed a fury of hoppy beers including a Lakewalk APA, Noble Pils clone, and a 60 minute IPA clone. Nick F also poured an IPA, JD poured a year old 100% Brettanomyces Brux. fermented Saison, and Jon M shared a Magic Hat #9 clone with a bunch of apricot extract added. Pretty close Jon.


The October 19th meeting is as usual on the 3rd Tuesday of the month, 8pm, upstairs loft at JJ Bittings.

Remember, we'll be collecting your entries into the Stoney Creek competition at this meeting if you don't want to drop them off yourself.

We'll be tasting the last of the Seibel Kit samples at this meeting.

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, and pitching club brewing projects, 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.

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