Now that April is officially behind us, the first third of 2014 has come and gone. Where does the time go? Anyway, I thought this would be a good opportunity to check my progress on the 2014 Brewing Goals. You can read about them at the original post, but I’m re-posting them here along with my updates
2014 Brewing Goals
Compete in a Homebrew Competition. Pretty straight-forward. The best way to improve is to have your beers critiqued. While I appreciate the general thumbs up/thumbs down from my friends, so more pointed criticisms should help me as a brewer.
Status: I haven’t gotten around to this yet. There were a few at the beginning of the year but I didn’t think I had anything worth entering.
Join a Homebrew Club. I sought to do that in my first year as a brewer, but I’ve struggled to find one whose time and geography fit my schedule. Since I travel a lot for work, weekday meeting nights don’t really work for me. I also don’t want to drive more than 30 minutes away from home if I can avoid it.
Status: I mentioned in my last post there would be news about this coming up; I have been in contact with a couple of people who are starting new homebrew clubs. One of which is actually being started by my local brewshop. First meeting is tomorrow night, so I’m pretty excited for that.
Improve my Homebrew Setup. This is one-part buying new/better equipment, and one-part analysis of my setup to better understand where I’m losing efficiency and how I can make my brewdays more productive.
Status: Thanks in part to my brother James buying me a false bottom for Christmas and my decision to finally start using my outdoor burner, I can say that I’ve crossed this item off. I do, however, want to do an inventory of my brewing equipment and purchase some upgrades/replacements especially for my plastic and vinyl.
Re-Brew Cheeky Bastard. Cheeky is probably my most successful brew to date. The aroma on this brew was awesome – 5 outta 5 awesome. I’d like to dial in the bitterness and mouthfeel on this beer because I think it could help me with…
Status: Another success on a technicality. Bandito is a very similar recipe to Cheeky Bastard. I’ll probably continue to fine tune this as my IPA recipe. Once I get that dialed in to where I like it, I may try something new in the IPA range.
Develop a “House” Beer. I want to start establishing a “roster” of beers that are 1. good and 2. re-brewable so that I can start dialing them in and perfecting them. Obviously an IPA should be one of those brews, so I think Cheeky will make the short-list. I’m also enjoying Winter Sun, but want to wait to see how Hairy Dog’s Breakfast turns out before settling on a stout.
Status: Some contenders but no stand outs for this one. Hairy Dog and Winter Sun could potentially be the stout of choice at Jackson-Jackson: The Disco. I’m also waiting to see how Bandito turns out.
Switch to Kegging. This is something I almost pulled the trigger on multiple times this year. So far the more consistent problem I’ve had with brewing is carbonation. I pitched extra champagne yeast into Cheeky and that sort of threw off the mouthfeel of that brew; Suicide by Hops, 187 and Midnight In the Garden all failed to carbonate.
Status: No progress. With a broken chest freezer I don’t even have a fermentation chamber at the moment. If I pick up a new freezer and find a way to fix the old one, I think that’s a good opportunity to make the switch.
Improve My Yeast Ranching. Part of the reason I believe those beers failed to carbonate was due to poor yeast ranching on my part. I want to improve my ability to wash, harvest and propagate yeast. I have some Conan from Cheeky that I plan to propagate for another brew.
Status: No progress, largely due to my time constraints with work travel that don’t allow me much lead time to make a starter. I did finish reading Yeast though.
Finish Reading Brewing, Yeast, and Hops. I have been buying/reading various different brewing books, but I haven’t finished one since How to Brew. I plan to sit down and focus on reading a few of these books to help improve my brewing knowledge.
Status: One out of three isn’t bad for a third of the way into the year. Yeast is done and I’ve started on Hops. With less plane travel coming up my reading will probably decrease but I’m going to try to read a few pages before bed each night.
Brew 20+ Time in 2014. This is a pretty ambitious goal and comes down to one brew every 2-3 weeks for a year. I think I can hit this target and if the brews keep improving, I should make for some interesting beers.
Status: Only 3 brew days so far this year; the Matt Brown Marzen, Bandito (1.5) and R’lyeh. I’m definitely trailing behind on this one, but if I can get a little more time at home I think I can bust out a few beers over the spring and take advantage of the nice weather and temperate fermenting conditions (since my chest freezer is busted).