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Brett Shegogue

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Organization Tips For Homebrewers

As we grow in the homebrewing hobby, so does our accumulation of stuff. I think I own enough spare keg parts to rebuild these things for another 10 years, but what good is that if I can't find where I put those silicone o-rings? Today I am going to highlight a few useful organization tips and tricks that I use to keep all my homebrew gear in check and my supplies full. These tips boil down to: 1. Grouping 2. Labeling 3. Storage 4. Using Technology Grouping: My first all-grain batch of beer was an exercise in organizational chaos. I spent half the day running back and forth between the yard (where I was brewing) and my basement (where all my brew-gear is stored), grabbing every piece of equipment I could think of. Most of my stuff was scattered in separate storage bins, and it was a real time waster. Repeat all that for cleanup, and you have a very long day. [/hide]

Speeding Up Brew Day

Most of us are strapped for time. Jobs, family obligations, household chores, and other activities compete for our precious time. Brewing is a hobby, which by definition is "an activity done during one's leisure time for pleasure." Unfortunately, we all don't have the same amount of leisure time and we sometimes need to find ways to speed up our brew day. But that is the great thing about this hobby--it can be tailored exactly to your lifestyle. I have a lengthy commute and often work long days, so my time at home on a weeknight prior to bedtime is about 4 hours. My normal brew day takes 5-5.5 hours. Simple math = Brett can't brew on a weeknight. So let's see how much time we can save with these techniques. [/hide]

3,2,1 - A New Frame Work for Developing Recipes

After most of us have a few brew days behind us, and possibly a few beers in our belly, we get the bright idea that we can make a stellar recipe...on our first try. As I like to say, "Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in awhile." However, chances are that squirrel is not you! First Recipe Failures I remember my first recipe - a southern English brown ale. I looked at the BJCP guidelines for 11B and saw there was a large emphasis on the "sweetness" in this style. I proceed to throw over 2-lbs of crystal 60L malt in that five gallon recipe and used very little hops which contributed to a low bitterness. A few weeks later my taste buds received a thorough lesson on the definition of a cloyingly sweet beer. I believe I am like many other homebrewers who enjoy researching issues from previous batches and finding a way to fix them. I wasn't going to let a little recipe mishap get me down. I went back to the drawing board with a new goal in mind; figure out how to design...

Beer Math with Brett Shegogue

As I mentioned in my Recipe Setup article, it is nice to utilize brewing software so you don't have to make complex calculations. While this is true, some of us would like to know the formulas behind those calculations. Knowledge of your formulas is useful for making adjustments on-the-fly, or to answer questions that friends may have about your beer. I will go over a few different commonly used formulas and discuss how you can use them in your brewing. [/hide]

Brew with Shegogue Part 2

We last left off by adapting a known recipe to our brewing system. Recipe setup can be done at anytime, but I see a lot of benefits for completing this stage of the process a week or more ahead of time. I think we have all had those impromptu brewdays that ended up having many types of, shall I say 'organized chaos?' No, maybe there is no organization, its was just chaos. Proper recipe setup can alleviate many of those issues. It also gives you time to purchase any additional ingredients you need that you don't already have on-hand. Pre-Brewday Setup Ingredients I went to the homebrew store two days prior to my planned brewday. I had made a shopping list so I wouldn't forget anything, or make too many impulse buys. The key items I needed to pick up for this beer was the yeast and some distilled water. I picked up a bunch of other items at the homebrew store including a case of fresh bottles for another beer, which I almost ended up leaving without! I actually picked up the...

Brew with Shegogue

This is the first article in a series entitled 'Brewing with Brett.' The series will detail Brett's approach and execution of brewing a batch of all-grain beer. Almost every aspect of crafting a brew can be dissected and discussed. In this series Brett will delve into some of that minutiae, starting with setting up his recipe. We are starting with recipe setup. Please note that this is different from recipe development, which is another beast entirely. Recipe setup is important because everyone's brewing system behaves a little differently. You want to have a good handle on your typical brewhouse efficiency and volume losses (due to dead space in your vessels and boil-off rate) to be able to scale a recipe to your system. Choose Your Recipe The obvious first step into brewing a batch of beer is to first pick a recipe. I generally like to stay somewhat within style guidelines. Anytime I am trying a new style for the first time I will head right to my copy of "Brewing Classic...

The Road to Becoming a BJCP Judge

Picture this - you come home from work and grab the mail. You are excited to see a manila envelope from the coordinator of the homebrew competition you entered a few weeks prior. This is it! You are ready to receive the glowing reviews of your finely crafted malt beverage. You open the envelope and much to your dismay, see your final score of 25. You start reading the comments from the judges, which are brief, nondescript and certainly not helpful. You are left with a feeling of disappointment and confusion. How did they not like your beer, and what can I do about it? [/hide]

The Road to Becoming a BJCP Judge

Picture this - you come home from work and grab the mail. You are excited to see a manila envelope from the coordinator of the homebrew competition you entered a few weeks prior. This is it! You are ready to receive the glowing reviews of your finely crafted malt beverage. You open the envelope and much to your dismay, see your final score of 25. You start reading the comments from the judges, which are brief, nondescript and certainly not helpful. You are left with a feeling of disappointment and confusion. How did they not like your beer, and what can I do about it? [/hide]
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