JAMBO Recap

Or, How We Pillaged a Small Town in New Hampshire. Oh and broke my girlfriend’s leg.

Ah, Jambo (bka The New England Homebrewers’ Jamboree). The one time a year where I allow myself to get completely wasted and be a total ass.* As always, my homebrew club – Metro South Homebrew League aka The MASH HOLES – made the trip up to Tamworth, NH on Friday afternoon for a weekend of drinking, drinking, puking, and drinking. This year was special for a number of reasons. First, it was the 20th anniversary of the event. Second, my lovely and foolishly trusting girlfriend decided to tag along. And third, the “special surprise” I had teased came to fruition: The Swinging Cowboy himself, Dan Joey, made a trip out from California (with his lovely and foolishly trusting girlfriend).

Joey is one of the original members of the MASH HOLES, and earned the nickname “The Swinging Cowboy” at the first Jambo that we attended. He was wearing a sun hat around all weekend, and ended up being propositioned by a couple, hence the name. Anyway, Joey had reached out to me a few months earlier and said he wanted to surprise the club at Jambo. So I helped a little with coordinating that effort, keeping him informed of the plans and surprising the crew with his arrival at Smuttynose.

Friday

Ah the first day/night of Jambo. The Girlfriend, The Dog, and I piled all of our camping shit into The Girlfriend’s larger and more fuel efficient car and started the drive up to New Hampshire. Surviving both my driving and my ranting/raving about other people’s driving, we met up with Joey, Joey’s girlfriend (Michelle), and most of the club at Smuttynose for lunch.

Ya boy's on the left, rocking the Bullet Club shirt and throwing up the Too Sweet.

Ya boy’s on the left, rocking the Bullet Club shirt and throwing up the Too Sweet.

Food and beer were great, natch. Smutty’s Pumpkin Ale was probably the winner, but I’m also a basic bitch so take that opinion with a grain of pumpkin spice. After a pit stop at Stoneface Brewing (best beer: IPA), we arrived at the Tamworth Campgrounds. One of ours, JT, was working the front gate and Andy & Amanda had already camped out the night before.

We spent the next hour or so setting up our tents, arguing about how to layout for pouring tent, casually drinking/watching Jason struggle to put up his tent, and waiting on the rest of the club to arrive. And then the real drinking began.

At this point, I should probably mention The Hammer.

The Hammer. And some MASH HOLES.

The Hammer. And some MASH HOLES.

The Hammer is a club joke/weapon. Our President – unlike our President of Vice – is a soft-spoken guy, so we decided he needed a gavel. As you might expect, a club named the MASH HOLES doesn’t do subtlety very well. And thus The Hammer was born. The Hammer usually stays with me, as I am the most worthy, and makes occasional appearances at club events. This year it became the focal point of our club shenanigans. Some time around 10pm or so, deep into our cups, Joey and I decided that we needed to let the other fine upstanding clubs know that the MASH HOLES were here, and we were here to drink their beer.

So, grabbing The Hammer, we yelled “PILLAGE!!” and stormed off to each tent, demanding “tribute” and “subjugation” (a word that became harder and harder to pronounce). From there, things get a little hazy. We didn’t so much strike fear into our fellow homebrewers as we annoyed the shit out of them. Either way, free beer was add, things were yelled, and I accidentally broke The Girlfriend’s knee. But that’s a story for the courts…

Saturday

Showtime!

Unsurprisingly, many a MASH HOLE had a hard time rising and/or shining. Normal stalwarts were reduced to shameful vomiting, and yours truly managed to miss the case when putting away the contact lenses and had to spend the day four-eyed. After much hemming and hawing about the tent set-up, display, beer names, and literally every other thing that could possibly be argued about, we finally pulled our shit together in time for the festivities.

Our brand spankin' new sign

Our brand spankin’ new sign

A group of HOLES arguing over where to put the new sign. Yours truly, quiet upset.

A group of HOLES arguing over where to put the new sign. Yours truly, quite upset.

We ended up with our merch and sign to the left, our 15 different beers and tap system in the center, and Vinny’s Drinking Game Fuckapalooza on the right. Those first two areas are probably self-explanatory, so let’s focus on the drinking games. A few days before Jambo, I had the brilliant idea to challenge festival goers to drinking games. To entice players, they’d have a chance to win merch if they put money down and were able to best me at either (three cup) Beirut or Flip Cup. They could also take the coward’s way out and throw 3 cornhole bags for a shot at merch. Thankfully (and unthankfully) only one man took the coward’s way out.

Unfortunately what this meant was – as the games originator/mastermind – I was forced to be the primary competition for anyone daring to play. I played about 17 games before taking a mid-day nap. I was awakened by The Girlfriend bursting into the tent yelling “Vinny, get up! Larry said he needs you because Scott is terrible and losing all the games!” And well, the President of Vice can’t leave his club in the hands of someone like Scott. By the end of the day, by the semi-official tally (i.e. a series of cross-marks I made on my arm with a dry-erase marker), my final count was 29 Wins and 11 loses. Good enough to bring in just under $200 for the club.

Outside of my drinking heroics, the club entered our Barrel-Aged Oud Bruin into the competition where it scored a whopping 5 out of 50 from the esteemed* judges, with such helpful feedback* as “sour” and “too sour.” Noted. Next time we make a traditionally sour brown ale, we’ll just make a brown ale instead… I guess. In more qualified beer judging news, big thanks to Jeffrey Lyons of New England Beer Review on Youtube for checking out our tent and reviewing Swinging Cowboy (!!). The MASH HOLES segment starts at 4:04 –

I’m happy to report that Swinging Cowboy was the first keg to be kicked, followed by other fantastic brews: Samurai Juice (Colin’s green tea IPA), Smaug (Larry’s RIS), Dicks out for Harambe (my RIS), Disgusting (my Oktoberfest), Swing and a Mrs. (fka Walk of Shame, Andy’s Coffee Cream Ale), Hopnoxious (Larry’s hoppy saison), Demonic Monk (Colin’s spicy Trappist beer), and several of our other awfully named beers. If my memory serves – which it often doesn’t – every single keg we brought to Jambo this year was kicked by the end of Saturday night.

The night was capped when the fearless and fearsome ladies of the MASH HOLES took The Hammer for a much more successful pillaging. A big thanks to everyone who showed up for Jambo including my brother and parents (!!), who I’m sure were so very proud of my stand-up behavior (i.e. the fact that I was still standing up).

As always: can’t wait til next year!

 

* For those who don’t know me personally, this is what we call “sarcasm.”

Clear Wort, Full Kegs, Can’t Lose

Right now I’m in the midst of a beer-centric couple of months. This upcoming Thursday is the New England Homebrew Jamboree, which I may have mentioned before, and as such, I have a bunch of full kegs and fermenters at the “brewery.” I figured since I have the long weekend, and no plans/space to brew for a while, it would be a good time to drop an update.

What’s Kegged

Right now I have about a keg and a quarter of the homebrew club’s Barrel-Aged Robust Porter w/Maker’s Mark. One keg I’ve been slowly drinking down myself, and the other is full and heading to the Jamboree on Thurday. The BARP is a really interesting beer. It looks like a standard porter – opaque black with a dark tan/brown head – but the smell and taste let you know something is different. The Maker’s Mark doesn’t come through very much, but there is a distinct sour note that melds well with robust porter’s natural roastiness and sweetness. It’s also deceptively drinkable at over 9% ABV. This was definitely a winner.

Ah, my pride and joy: Symphony of Decay, maple pumpkin ale. Truth be told, this year’s version is different from the previous iterations due largely to missed targets on brew day. I’m still getting used to my new-ish equipment, and brewing on a day with 100% humidity probably through off the boil-off calculations. This is all to say I missed my target gravity by 0.015 (which is a lot for the uninitiated). Some of that has to do with the extra wort leftover, and some from mashing in about 4*F higher than target. Thankfully the wonderful San Diego Superyeast attenuated the beer below my target final gravity, ending with a 5% ABV beer. Much more sessionable than the standard 7.2%. So how did it turn out? Well, it’s not the champion it was last year. There’s a strong aroma of pumpkin spice (nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon) and just a hint of biscuit as well. It looks a little… dirtier than I was amazing for, but the amount of pumpkin that goes into this beer is probably to blame for that despite a Whirlfloc addition and some cold crashing with gelatin. It is a nice dark orange color, though. My big qualm is in the flavor. It tastes unripened for lack of a better descriptor. There’s a kind of green apple sweetness to it that seems out of place. It’s not too strong, but it does take away from the pumpkin flavor and base amber style. It’s not cloyingly sweet, so maybe this is something that will gradually age out of it. It becomes less noticeable as the beer warms, but something definitely went off the mark here. Not a drain pour or even a bad beer,  but SoD has a reputation to uphold and I don’t think this beer is a contender for the crown this year.

Lastly, there’s my  latest pet project: The Hustler, New England style IPA. The last batch I brought to a homebrew event – Beans and Brew – and it was well-received. It was close to what I had set out to brew, but didn’t quite have the bitter punch I was hoping for. It was suggested that I start screwing around with my water treatment, but I wasn’t quite ready to take that on for this batch. This beer finished under my target gravity, but part of that was due to my forgetfulness (I neglected to add Turbinado sugar until after the boil/cooling). It doesn’t account for the entirety of the difference, but it makes up for a lot of it (again this was another humid brew day, I’m not good at calculating my losses, etc.). Again, my yeast worked overtime and attenuated the beer past target resulting in a 6.2% beer (target: 7.3%). Anyways, it came out GREAT. You could snort cocaine, and the smell of this beer would still be the best thing going up your nose. Mango, papaya, fruit juice, oranges, fucking probably a ton of those tropical fruits that I’ve never heard of before, too. The flavor follows along the same notes as well with a very mellow bitterness. I’m starting to really believe that the Conan yeast strain eats away at perceived bitterness. I increased the IBUs to a (theoretical) 148 from 86, and it still doesn’t taste quite bitter enough to me. But it’s still a pretty wonderful IPA nonetheless.

What’s Fermenting

The (infamous) Matt Brown Marzen(/Oktoberfest)  is into its second week of lagering. I expect it to be ready when I return from the Great American Beer Fest at the end of this month. My initial taste of it, prior to fermenting had it more bitter than I remember, but I’m hoping the long lagering period (31-32 days) will let that mellow out a bit.

My latest (and possibly craziest) recipe went into the fermenter on Friday: the Headless Horseman, pumpkin milk stout. There’s a few pumpkin milk stout recipes out there, but I wan’t to try something a little different. I removed the traditional highly-kilned grains from the malt bill to keep the beer’s orange color, and replaced the base 2-row malt with Maris Otter to balance out the sweetness with a little biscuity breadiness. I have no idea what to expect from this beer, but I may try to put it on nitro. If it’s a winner, it’ll be my likely entry into the Mash Holes Pumpkin Beer Competition in October. If not, well I’ve still got the Pumpkin Pie Porter up my sleeve.

 

So that’s it for updates for now, I’ll see you on the other side of the Jamboree, survival permitting.

It’s JAMBO Season

Holy fucking shit. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, kids. That’s right, it’s JAMBO season!

WTF is JAMBO Season?

So, my homebrew club – Metro South Homebrew League a.k.a. MASH HOLES – has officially been in existence for a little over two years. Our biggest participatory event of our inaugural year was the New England Homebrew Jamboree in Tamworth, NH. In the grand scheme of things, the NE Jamboree (or “Jambo”) is pretty small potatoes; it is a gathering of homebrew clubs from around New England for a weekend of camping/debauchery. It is also a shit-ton of fun. The MASH HOLES made a bit of a name for ourselves last year – as MASH HOLES are wont to do – and this year we’re rolling twice as deep, with plans to drink twice as much and party twice as hard (sanity permitting).

Cool story, bro. Why should I care?

A fine question, assuming I cared about you, part of my psyche asking these questions. This – like 99.9% of this blog – is about me. I am ungodly excited for this year’s Jambo, and have been brewing up a storm in antici…pation.

anticipation

Today, I started kegging the only three time (three time, three time) brewed beer here at Anti-Hero Brewing: Symphony of Decay. And while I have my reservations about the 2015 vintage after an initial tasting, only time will tell how it stands up against its predecessors. SoD will be making the trip up to the Jambo, along with its personal tap handle, created from the club’s annual Pumpkin trophy:

IMG_0859

Symphony will be joining the well-received Hustler (NE-style IPA) at Jambo, as well as the club barrel-aged robust porter with Maker’s Mark. So I’ll be rolling three kegs deep. If you’re in the New Hampshire/New England area, and are interested in attending here’s the Jambo website. I’ll be the guy with the douchey undercut at the MASH HOLES tent, making fun of people and (if history serves) accidentally cutting myself with a Leatherman and taking 11am naps.

Beyond Thunderdome Jambo

But the hits just keep on coming, Internet friends. This week and next, I’m planning to fit in two more brew sessions. Odds are both of them will be pumpkin-based beers. Right now I’m debating the styles; my Pumpkin Pie Porter (P3) is most likely going to one of them and the other will either be my planned Pumpkin Saison or a recipe I just came up with yesterday: a Pumpkin Milk Stout. I’m leaning towards the milk stout at the moment because I think there’s a lot of potential for something unique there. I’m also debating adding vanilla bean to it to round out the flavor, but we’ll see.

The next brew day is scheduled for Thursday or Friday of this week, so I’ll probably be making up my mind shortly.

Other News

I almost forgot to mention that I purchased another chest freezer/fermentation chamber this week. I’ll soon be able to have four simultaneous fermentations, which will let me continuously churn out new brews. I’m excited.

 

Anywho, that’s my updates for this week. If you’ve got an opinion of pumpkin saison vs. pumpkin milk stout, feel free to leave a comment. Also – as always – if there’s something you’d like me write about, feel free to mention that as well.

Later.