2010 November Meeting #145

The WHALES Newsletter and Minutes - November 2010 - Issue #145

Woodbridge Homebrewers Ale & Lager Enthusiasts Society

Crafting Award Winning Beer, Mead, and Cider Since 1996


AHA Learn to Brew Day, Strong Ales Club Only Competition, Website Profiles, Chugger Pumps, Stoney Creek, Holiday Party, Framboise Project, Apple Port Project II


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

December 21th - Regular Whales Meeting

January 15th - Whales Holiday Party - Location TBD

January 18th - Whales Meeting and BJCP Cat.8 English Bitters Club Only Competition


Check the Whales website at (http://www.whalesbrewclub.com) for the latest announcements, meeting minutes, and calendar updates.  Feel free to upload pictures, add events to the calendar, review beers/bars, and post comments in the forums.  Bobby welcomes club member article contributions and new content ideas to the website.

The website has a new member profile system installed so now is a great time to get your info updated. It includes fields to collect information about your brewery and other brewing related data. The steering committee humbly requests that you post a "head shot" style picture there also so that all members can put a face to the name. This is extremely helpful for newer members. You can edit your profile by going to "member info", then "edit my profile". Bobby will have paper copies of the form at future meetings for anyone that needs help updating their info. Keep in mind, this info is always hidden from the general public so there should be no privacy concerns.

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).

Whales Schwag:

The WHALES want everyone to know who we're with so the logo branded schwag is building up. We currently have several dozen mini-Pils taster glasses from last year. Every member got one at some point but if they've gone missing or broken, you can buy a replacement for $3. We also have a couple blue or tan Tshirts available in Lg/Xlg for $12 each, but these are reserved for members who joined after the group buy happened. Finally, the classy stickers that are being giving to renewing members for 2011 are also available for purchase if you want to put one on every corny keg you own. The stickers are $1 each.


The Tuesday November 16th meeting was held at JJ Bitting as usual with approximately 38 Whales. There may have been a visitor or two but no one signed in as such. In our treasurer's absense, Bobby started collecting 2011 membership dues to spread out the task across two meetings. Members renewing or joining for the first time in 2011 receive two circular WHALE logo stickers (same image we got on the Tshirts).  So far, 26 Whales have renewed and at least another 25 or so are expected to do so at the December meeting. It looks like we'll be starting 2011 with about 50 members leaving about 10 spots open for potential new members. Keep in mind that there is a new application process.

The meeting was kicked off just after 8pm. The dues collection process offered a slight delay. The first club activity of the night was welcoming guest speaker, Mike, from Chuggerpumps.com. Mike has been working for an industrial pump company for years and saw an opportunity in the homebrewing market for a slightly different kind of pump. In the recent past, most brewers have relied on the March Mfg. PL-809-HS model pump for transfering hot water and wort in their brewery. The basic features we look for are high temp capability, magnetic drive so we can throttle the output without harming the pump, and a sealed pump head to keep lubricants from contaminating the beer. The chugger pump is essentially a clone of the March except it uses a stainless steel pump head instead of plastic. Without having to speculate on plastic and any potential problems associated with it, it's probably obvious that brewers have a healthy obsession with stainless and consider it superior to plastic in many ways. The chugger pumps havn't been around long enough to empirically vouch for their long-term quality, but we really like what chuggerpumps is doing. The initial impressions are very  positive and the price is right. Mike spent some time answering questions about the pump and generously gave a few pumps away to the membership via raffle (not before Gary coaxed one out of him for the big club brewing system). Thanks Mike!

Moving on, Mike D brought his brother to the meeting and his brother brought some 15 year old homebrewed Oatmeal Stout that they found in the corner of the basement from back when he dabbled in homebrewing. The interesting thing is that there wasn't anything particularly remarkable about it. While it wasn't fresh, it wasn't severely oxidized or sherry-like. Since the style isn't hoppy, the malty profile held up pretty well. The Whales certainly appreciate the chance to taste the near-antique beer.

Brad began pouring this month's commercial beer calibration for BJCP category 5, Bock Beers. We got to sample a recognized BJCP commercial example from each of the 4 subcategories, Maibock, Traditional Bock, Doppelbock (double strength), and Eisbock. This calibration tasting was in preparations for an upcoming club-only competition in March that is focused on Bock beers. The tasting is occuring well in advance due to the longer cold aging (lagering) required for this style. If this tasting inspires anyone to brew in preparation for that competition, you have about a month to make it happen. You may even be able to find a place in the house, basement, or garage that sits at a brisk 50F for lager fermentation without having to buy a fridge.

Bobby took orders for another batch of Whales caps and winter beanie hats. We're using the same company we used last time so they already have our logo digitized for embroidery. Approximately 34 hats were ordered and they should be done in time for the December meeting.

Speaking of the December meeting, the owner of JJ Bitting suggested that we can have our usual 3rd Tuesday meeting. In the past, we migrated to an alternate meeting location to make way for corporate holiday party bookings in our normal space. The steering committee also kicked around the idea of moving the meeting a week sooner to avoid the proximity to Christmas. After a quick poll of the club members, we all agreed that 12/21, the regular day, is fine with everyone so no changes will be made.


 First, it was acknowledged that despite 12 entries,  the WHALES were tragically blown out of the Stoney Creek competition in early November. This comp was open to all beer, meads and ciders. We'd claim it was a conspiracy against NJ brewers but we know better.

Next up, the club judged a Club Only Competitionfor BJCP Category 19, Strong Ales including Old Ale and English/American Barleywines. In order to not impede meeting progress too much, Gary chose a table of people who didn't have any entries, to judge the five beers. For good measure, we pulled BJCP judge Jen J into the mix. Tom P entered an Old Ale and English Barleywine. JD entered an English Barleywine, and Justin F and Brian Y both entered American Barleywines. In the end, JD's English Barleywine was a clear winner while Paff's Old Ale and Brian Y's American BW were both very close in 2nd/3rd. This was the last chance to earn Whales HBOY points for 2010.

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. The final HBOY results will be tabulated by the December meeting and the winner will be formally announced. 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.

Upon analyzing the Whales HBOY points and competition environment from the past few years, it was recognized that this was a relatively light year despite maxed out membership. Of course, participation in competitions is completely optional and no one should feel pressured to compete. However, the steering committee wants to encourage anyone that wants to give it a go should not be shy about it. If there are any questions about the process, be sure to talk to any of the folks you find on the top of the HBOY leaderboard. In order to keep membership as informed as possible, upcoming competitions will be advertised more overtly at the meetings and in this newsletter.

The opportunity to get on the HBOY list in 2011 right out of the gate would be to bring an English Bitter to the January meeting. This includes ordinary , special and extra special bitters (ESB). We noticed quite a few people brewing these in Novermber so the turnout shoudl be great. Bitters are pretty easy to brew and don't require a lot of aging time so you can still brew one if you hurry. If you feel like you'll miss this opportunity, the next competition open to all styles will be on February 19th. War of the Worts is a competion out in PA run by Keystonehops, the club associated with Keystone Homebrew Supply. The Whales will likely collect entries at the January meeting because the February meeting is past the entry deadline.

Finally, looking even further ahead, The Club Only for Bocks will be judged at the March meeting. They are lagers so if you've always wanted to brew a lager, do it now while the weather is cool. Lager it through January and February and you'll be good to go.

If you want to know more about the WHALES Homebrewer of the Year (HBOY) program, there's an article dedicated to it listing all the applicable competitions, approximate dates, and how the HBOY points are awarded. If you want more details on the Club Only Competitions as sanctioned by the American Homebrewer's Association, including the themes and dates of each competition, you can go to the Homebrewer's Association Website.


Crazy frank ??? who won what?

The task to become eligible for the December giveaway has been posted on the website. Basically, fill out your new user profile and add a picture of yourself.


First, Gary spent a little time reviewing the Cider Days festivities that happened the first weekend in November up in Massachusetts. Several WHALES have made the trek up in previous years but this year's attendance might have been a record. In fact, many members are so die-hard about this event that we push the AHA Learn to Brew event a week later so they don't coincide. The WHALES Apple Port was poured at one of the cider seminars to great reception and praise. Between the NHC first place medal last year and continued presence at cider day, the WHALES are fast becoming known for more than just beer. Several barrels and buckets of fresh cider were carted back for private projects as well as our second annual apple port batch. This two day event captures the best of New England in the fall. Foliage, hard cider, and fermentation geeks; what more do you want?

Once again, cider days conflicted 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 (the 13th). After several road blocks were discovered with using a 3rd party location, new member Jay B volunteered his driveway. The turnout was high because we had a beautifully sunny day. Despite the relatively tight quarters, most of the day was relatively smooth aside from a trip and fall.

Frank took a lot of video footage during the day, lost the camera, then found the camera and posted a nice summary on youtube. Check it out http://www.youtube.com/user/PitcherGuy There are also a lot of nice pictures in the photo gallery on the website. We can't believe Frank had enough time to brew a batch, shoot video, take 80 photographs AND get pissed all in the same day. You animal.

Additional discussion was had regarding the Holiday party slated for January 15th. We're going to make one final attempt to scope out an alternate party location but we will most likely be back at the same place as last year in Woodbridge. For those that were at the party last year, we'll probably do much of the same. The club will pay for some food and supplies and everyone is going to be asked to bring a few beverages to share commercial or otherwise.


The steering committee met in November and discussed the recent approval of the membership cap section of the bylaws. Some of the discussion centered around the membership points system and the tentative list of points-eligible activities. It was decided that attending a club social event would be separate from brewing at one of the big brew events because they are decidedly different activities. This makes it even easier to meet participation expectations. In a somewhat related topic, the committee reviewed Bobby's draft membership application form that will be filled out by prospective new members. In light of the cap, the applications will be reviewed by the committee to keep membership focused on the overall mission of the club.

There was also a bit of talk about the current dues and how they may be better used to support the club's mission in 2011. The committee agreed that more of the SC meetings should regularly focus on planning educational activities that will help everyone become better brewers. Spending will be monitored and evaluated about mid-year to see if the dues needs to be adjusted for next year.

Gary also noted that the November meeting (this one) is the last opportunity to nominate yourself or someone else for an officer or steering committee position for 2011. Bobby and Keith "prez" are both running for president to replace Gary (3 year term limit). Frank is running for secretary and Keith is nominated to remain treasurer (both uncontested positions). Finally Joe Jr, Mike D, Steve S, and Jay D (looking to keep his seat) are running for Steering Commitee. The

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


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. As of this writing, the first half was brewed at Bobby's on November 21st. This was also the close of the Flanders Brown project as it was racked out to shareholders on the same day. The second half is tentatively slated for brewing at JD's house the weekend of Dec 11th.

The other concurrent project is Whales Apple Port II. Much more of the overall volume this year will get its start as freeze-concentrated cider. Gary is the ring leader of this project just like the first one and has solicited the help of several other people to make it happen. "Do you have any idea what it looks like to have several dozen empty Everclear bottles jutting out of the recycle bin at the curb"? Additional progress will be reported as it happens if Gary isn't forced into AA meetings first.


Um. Chugger pump?


The flight was extensive at this meeting and it got an early start while the COC was being judged. Prez poured a premium lager, Gary shared his own personal apple port (not the clubs), Anthony poured a Cherrywood Rauchbier, The Joes previewed an ESB (assumed to be hitting the COC in January), Joe and Gary poured co-brewed an Apricot Maple Cider, Mike D had a black IPA and Applewine, Ben B practically brought a cooler-full including Oatmeal Stout, Belgian Brown, Schwarzbier etc. Joe S also had a really interesting apple-mash fermented cider (no separation of pulp or skins during fermentation). Of course, everyone also go a chance to sample the beers that were entered into the strong ales COC. We were glad to see everyone else agreed that JD's English BW was very nice.


The December 21st meeting is as usual on the 3rd Tuesday of the month, 8pm, upstairs loft at JJ Bittings.

We will be voting to select the 2011 club president and steering committee members.

Our treasurer Keith will continue to collect dues from the remaining renewals. Note, per the bylaws, you are expected to renew no later than the December meeting to guarentee your spot in 2011.

Those of you who ordered Whales hats will take delivery 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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