Blast from the Past - A Decade of WHALES - 1998

I thought it would really interesting to call attention to the meeting minutes from 10 years ago. I've only been with the club for 2 years now and enjoy paging through some of the older newsletters. Here's the oldest one I could find.


WHALES Newsletter and Minutes         November 19, 1998
Recording Secretary: Kenny Schrader

Thanks to ALL for another productive Homebrew Club Meeting! I am filling in for Baloo's "minutes" here, since he was unable to attend the meeting due to illness. Please excuse any typos and my very unpolished writing ability!

We met 7PM sharp at the bar. We discussed how the music on Thursday nights made it difficult for the Club to hold Meetings, heck, we just can't hear each other talk. With winter soon ahead of us, our meetings will be held indoors for awhile (instead of on the roof). After several pints of Hopgarden Ale and John Eisenstein's wonderful stout, we moved the meeting to the dining room cuddled into the corner overlooking Main Street. This was indeed less noisy, when compared to the upstairs level, where the band music seems to travel straight up. The music is GREAT!, don't get me wrong, it's just hard to talk over.

Normally, when the Club gets together, there seems to be NO shortage of Homebrew Samples. It was UNUSUAL this month, to have only a few members bring samples. The brews shared were however, outstanding! Thanks Harry for bringing your Grog! Keith had two keepers, an Okfest and what he called Scotch Ale, but it sure had a Belgian twang to it. John and Pat Fox shared a DYNO all-grain! Members are ENCOURAGED to bring their own homebrews, for club members to praise or critique. Good or bad, please bring your brews for Tastings at each meeting. David McMahon deserves a SPECIAL thanks for finalizing the artwork on the WHALES Logo, and getting the website off the ground, for details see below... Keith went over some items for the Big Brew Bash at his house on Saturday. The Club will be brewing up batches of all-grain and extract Pale Ales. Folks will take home this BENCHMARK wort and add their favorite yeast, dryhop if preferred, and keg or bottle. We will then sample them and see if we can tell the differences between the varying techniches used after the initial same wort, and methods to completion.

Our Guest Speaker was DAVE HOFFMAN from CLIMAX BREWERY. Dave is an old friend of WHALES, and had previously given our group a First Hand Tour of his fine establishment. Mr. Hoffman was more than proud to discuss his business and brewing practices with us. WHALES is indebted to Dave for his generousity. The man brought GROWLERS (note: in BROWN glass) of his brews for our knowledge and consumption!

CLIMAX is probably most well known for their "CREAM ALE", which Dave says is actually an American Pale Ale. A TRUE cream ale is one in which ale yeast is used to begin fermentation for approximately two days. The beer is then chilled, and lager yeast introduced to complete the fermentation process. Dave opted to call his APA a 'cream ale' because "Everyone and their Mother makes a Pale Ale". Also, because of this beer's creamy texture, silky head, and smooth mouthfeel. It is hopped with Chinook and top fermented with Fullers ale yeast, which by the way is the ONLY yeast Dave uses in all four beers. I believe he said the strain is Wyeast #1968.

WHALES also got to sample Climax ESB, a GREAT session brew! Climax IPA, hopped with Perle, Mount Hood, Columbus, Centenial, and another I forgot. This is a dandy of an IPA with a huge dose of aromatic malts. And last but not least, we all got to try the 1998 GOLD Medal Award Winning NUT BROWN ALE. What a treat! This beer kicked butt over even Brooklyn Brown!

Mr. Hoffman ran through many TECHNICAL aspects of the brew making process. We learned how to read Malt Analysis Charts (extremely intensive even for the most geekyist of beer geeks)! When it comes to malt analysis, Dave was VERY concerned with moisture content. Less moisture is better; 4 is average, 6 is "garbage", and a bench mark of Marris Otter is 2. We discussed DIASTIC POWERS, and its importance in the beer making process. Dave knows from experience that any rating under 70 to 80 MUST be step-mashed. We talked about SPECIALTY MALTS in detail. Dave advocated that WORLD brewing techniques, documented in literature were NOT correct, when it comes to the amount of specialty malts recommended in recipes. He believes that more than 10% of the grist -MUST- contain specialty malts for quality beers. We also learned that particular ingredients should NOT be combined, particularly certain hops and yeasts. As an example, Fullers yeast and Cascade hops make for a beer too full of grapefruit, etc. One has to experiment! We got info on Alpha ranges of 50 (yes, FIFTY!) different hops, both domestic and imported. Finally, Dave went through the keys to recipe formulation. The result being a beer that is BALANCED, and makes you MUST WANT ANOTHER, his most important factors.

Our Guest Speaker Dave was most informative, entertaining, and unshyly opinionated! Perhaps that is what makes Hoffman a GREAT Speaker. A few quotes that I recall specifically are "I can read a beer recipe and know what it tastes like BEFORE it is brewed". "I can create ANY recipe for ANY beer that ANY discerning beer drinker could not tell the difference if I or the original brewer made it". "I ONLY use whole leaf hops because if God wanted pellet hops they would have grown like that on the vine"! "The GABF (Great American Beer Festival in Colorado) is coming down to who you know, and who you blow"!

Kudos to Mr. Dave Hoffman for being included in Michael Jackson's new book, "ULTIMATE BEER". There are 400 beers in the book, and only 48 are from the USA. Climax Brewery is damn proud, and rightly so, to be one of the chosen few. Thanks much Dave Hoffman for sharing your time and knowledge with the WHALES Club! We sincerely appreciate the time you spent with us, and hope your attendance will be routine.

One final reminder... WHALES has a -WEBSITE-!! Thanks to Mister Sausage Guy David McMahon. If you have not already visited, please do so now and sign the Guest Book. The URL is:

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend! Brew well and drive safely.
Kenny/Divorce Court Labs Brewery