Blogging consistency is harder than I thought

So yeah [insert lame excuse for extremely long delays in posts here] sorry about that. Who knew that keeping yourself busy at both work and in the brewhouse would make it tough to keep up with this thing? I demand an explanation!

All joking aside, the last three months I've been extremely busy in the brewin' arena, so let's get right to updates, shall we?

First of all Pints for Paws 2011 was a big, great, ENORMOUS success! My fellow homebrewers donated over 40 varieties (320 gallons worth) of their fermented concoctions for the masses (and I mean masses) to taste at this year's event. Over 10,000 people showed up and we were able to raise well over $11,000 for the Animal Shelter Foundation! My brewing buddy and I finished in the top 5 for the People's Choice award and the Ethereal Earth Belgian Strong (happily renamed King Oliver's Belgian Strong) was the first beer to run out. I was pleased to see that more people were voting for us that we didn't know than those we did. All in all, the event went awesome, I lost my voice, and local animals will benefit from our (and your) efforts. Can't get any better than that.

Update on the beers I submitted to a regional competition. Each judge is subjective, mind you, but all try to use their years of experience in professional beer tasting to give you the best information possible so that you can ultimately become a better brewer. Of the six beers I submitted, I had three surprises (one good, two bad). Here's the submissions and the resulting scores (which are out of a max possible score of 50 - FYI, beers with scores in the low-to-mid 30s are typically good beers, while beers in the upper 30s and 40s are usually medal-winning ones):

  • Harvest Blueberry Wheat - 27
  • Happy Wife Hefeweizen - 28
  • Red Panda Rye - 31
  • Hard Cider - 33
  • Daisy Pusher Pale Ale - 35
  • Ethereal Earth  - 35

Can you guess the two surprises? Need context? Sure. I was surprised at how low the Hefe & Blueberry scored. The feedback was helpful and I think I've got a good idea as to how to improve the quality of those beers (i.e. better water, less grains, slightly higher fermentation temps). The other surprise, how high Daisy Pusher scored. I was expecting this one to be on the lower side considering how much I rushed the process. I usually let Daisy Pusher ferment for at least three weeks on its own before bottling or kegging it. This time, I let it go for a mere week before pushing it into the keg and a few bottles. I was expecting some off-flavors, but it seems like the only knocks the judges had were that it had a background metallic taste. THANKS A LOT, TALLAHASSEE WATER. Oh well, I'll figure out how to improve that one as well. I was glad to see Ethereal Earth score the way it did, even though I was hoping for a medal. The knock on that beer was that it skewed from its style somewhat, due to the licorice aroma and taste. I'll do that one better too!

As of late, I've done a few more batches. As previously mentioned, I got around to making my first meads (one with Honey and one with Agave nectar). Those got bottled after sitting around in their respective fermenters for 3 1/2 months! They need a little aging, but think about them as lighter liquors. The honey mead is going to be great, in my opinion. The agave nectar mead has a smokey/hot flavor to it and I'm anxious to see what they'll both taste like in a few months to a year's time. Both of those are uncarbonated, so it's a different experience.

I also just brewed and kegged a summer ale with a ton of caramel malt in it. Have I said I like caramel in my beers? A taste from that sucker was excellent! Almost done carbing up. For Father's Day I mixed up a batch of Hard Cider with my dad and my father-in-law, so that'll be done just in time for the cool weather to come creeping through Florida's capitol. Two nights ago I made yet another mead - a 4 gallon batch with 7 lbs of Tueplo honey and 6 lbs of juiced blackberries! This one I'm very excited about and it should start to hit its peak sometime around the end of 2011. Happy Holidays indeed! This one will be carbonated. Additionally, to honor the seventh year since I proposed to my beautiful and extremely awesome wife, I brewed her a special batch - a Honey Raspberry Wheat Ale. No name yet, but we'll see how this one turns out. It's a basic German wheat beer with a little Belgian flare. I added two pounds of Orange Blossom honey at the end of the boil and this Sunday evening I'm going to be transferring the beer into a secondary fermenter filled with about 4-5 lbs of fresh raspberries! And, last but not least, this coming Sunday will be my homebrewing club's annual Summer Club Brew, and I'm brewing my First Light Summer Ale with the zest of a couple Meyers lemons added in at the end of the boil! Get on it, GrassLands!

Whew! Let's promise not to go that long in between posts again, eh Gabe? You got it.

Now, what else is in store for the next few months? Maybe a little progress on this brewery venture, huh?

Prost!