I jumped into five-gallon, all-grain brewing after completing three partial-extract beers, and was invited to assist a local brewer in making an IPA and a Pilsner. The members of my homebrew clubs, The Society of Barley Engineers (SBE) and the Quality Ale and Fermentation Fraternity (QUAFF), shared their knowledge and beer freely, and these friendships in the brewing community have been the most satisfying aspect of my brewing odyssey. In the dark hours of the night, I sometimes worried about flying too close to the sun of these masterful brewers who have welcomed me with open arms. I joined the American Homebrewers Association and attended the National Homebrewers Conference in San Diego this year. It was a thrill to witness my clubs pouring delicious, creative beers on Club Night. To amplify my knowledge, I listened to podcasts like Basic Brewing, read books like Experimental Homebrewing by Drew Beechum and Denny Conn, and subscribed to newsletters like " you guessed it " HomeBrewTalk.
Though I have moved to Los Angeles since that time, and am now a member of the Maltose Falcons homebrew club, I still make the drive to San Diego for the SBE and QUAFF monthly club meetings. My friend, Jim Akin of Benchmark Brewing, bought me a beer last Tuesday just to thank me for making the drive. For the trip, I streamed The Brewing Network, and learned something along the way.
To my utter delight, the Maltose Falcons have also welcomed me with open arms. That's the brewing community: you can be at the top or bottom of your game, and, when you fall, brewers will pick you up and dust you off with helpful information. For instance, how can you fail to love a community that provides serious and cogent advice to a brewer who raises a red flag on the club's email list server because he realized, just before it was time to cool his wort, that his apartment had no outside faucets? When I scoped out apartments in Los Angeles, I made sure to have brew-ability in mind. But who knows? Maybe my brew-day challenges have appeared insane to those who have diligently answered my hundreds of questions without blinking. And I do mean hundreds.
Over the past year, I have brewed 25 batches of beer and cider, and I look forward to making my first mead. After the 17th batch, I wanted to either scale up, or scale down, to get to the next level. Moving into an LA apartment made the decision easy. I scaled down to one-gallon batches, and discovered a whole new level of precise brewing techniques that appeal to my baker's instincts. Currently in fermentation: a Belgian Tripel ale; a Belgian Tripel cider that was inspired by the ale; a roggenbier dosed with Brettanomyces; an American brown ale with dried mission figs; and an Irish red ale with dried black currants. The cider I am drinking right now, a nifty number with caramel and honey notes, makes me nervous that I am down to my last few bottles. Time to plan another cider.
Focus on appearance, aroma, taste, mouthfeel and character.
This Friday, I plan to make an American pale ale and add peach habanero peppers in secondary fermentation. I can only thank God for those who have tried this risky endeavor before me, and reported their results. I am also thankful for the beautiful mother and daughter who sold me the peppers at the farmers market in Venice, California on Sunday. By the way, take time to appreciate your farmers market professionals " these are the individuals who make your adjunct beers and meals shine. I was at the farmers market at Fort Mason, in San Francisco, six weeks ago, and was introduced to a baker in her twenties who had recently launched her bakery. I admired her. Kate was hit in a car accident within hours of our meeting and died. I had met her mother the week before at the farmers market, and bought some olive bread that was out of this world. Kate, I think of you every time I make bread, and I think of your mother just as often.
I started a blog and website, HummingBrew.com, to chronicle my homebrew adventures, and share what I have learned with others. The brewing community is a generous and friendly one, and it's my mission to help raise awareness and appreciation of craft beer. I guess it's impossible that I will become a beer snob when there are so many excellent brewers taking me to school each and every day - and that's a good thing. Wine at my home, these days, is mostly relegated to cooking. I don't want to miss a single opportunity to taste and understand beer. I hope you enjoy this video primer on tasting beer " share it with your wine-loving friends, and let's bring more drinkers over to our team.
Lyne Noella is a storyteller and homebrewer living in Los Angeles. See her blog at www.hummingbrew.com.[URL="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/extension/"]//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/extension/ t=_self//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/extension///www.pinterest.com/pin/create/extension/ t=_self//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/extension///www.pinterest.com/pin/create/extension/ t=_self[/url]