First off, super huge thanks to Joe Bair for setting up this meeting several months ago. Derek from Kane worked some magic and arranged for a mini-tap takeover last night. Unos cleared 8 tap lines for Derek — which is perfect amount for 2 flights. We had Donut Shack, Morning Bean, Evening Bell, Sneakbox, Head High, Overhead, Black Tie Required and Sunday Brunch. Unfortunately, the succulent mafia had a meeting going on in the back room. So, we ended up taking over half of the bar with a whopping 32 club members, including a few first timers. This meant that we didn’t get to have a traditional tasting and presentation from Derek. But, he floated around and gave us an update about what’s going on at Kane. The big news was that Kane will officially hit their production capacity this year. Their 20 bbl system is turning out beer FOUR, yes, FOUR times a day! It is also worth noting that Kane recently picked up our good friend and club member Richard B. as a brewer. Thanks to D for the snaps!
Screamin’ Hill invited us out to see what they’re up to and drink some morning beers with them a couple of weeks ago. We visited them two years ago when they first opened. But, it was time to taste their latest offerings and hear about their expansion plans.
This dirt to draft brewery is making 80-85% of their ingredients on site. They’re growing 6 different varietals of grain at the family-owned farm where the brewery is located. Growing your own hops and grain on a relatively small scale introduces a whole new set of challenges to the brewing process — namely consistency. Grains and hops are tested by labs, but they find that they still need to make adjustments after the first batch brewed with a new harvest of any ingredient.
Screamin’ Hill is usually open on Saturdays. But, it’s worth checking their FB page before heading out. They sometimes run out of beer and skip a Saturday. On draft, you can find them at the Witherspoon Grill, the A&B in Princeton and at the Blend Bistro in Hamilton.
Another year, another Big Brew down in history… meeting again on the Suydam property in Franklin, the PALE ALES turned out 200+ gallons of homebrew! A big thanks to Paul and Robin for having us there, and everyone who showed up and had some fun! Got pictures I haven’t posted? Send them in and I’ll add them.
On Saturday October 27th, a few choice PALE ALEs members ventured out to the Keystone Homebrew supply for a brew day. The purpose? To brew an entry for the Keystone Homebrew Club Barrel Brew Championship! Keystone Homebrew supply was nice enough to allow clubs entering a choice of a freshly used whiskey or applejack barrel for aging beer. The finished beers will be judged as an AHA club night event! The brewday took on the feel of the big brew with more than usual going on. Brewers from NJ and PA brought loads of equipment and brewed to fill the ~50 gallon barrels. Iron Abbey brought in plenty of Brazilian style bbq, Free Will brewing had a few firkins, and lots of homebrew clubs were on hand to talk shop with!
Early feedback from many brewers indicate this will be a pretty tough competition!
There were also some fermentation incidents… but I’d rather call it plenty of healthy yeast!
On Friday October 12th, The Promise Culinary School, Suydam Farms, and the PALE ALES teamed up for a Farm to Table evening of local brew and seasonal foods to benefit Elijah’s Promise. Elijah’s Promise began as a volunteer New Brunswick soup kitchen, and has evolved into a culinary school and job creation enterprise that helps to rebuild lives by not simply providing food. Suydam Farms has been growing produce, livestock, and plants for 13 generations, not to mention helping out us PALE ALES by giving us a great meeting backdrop twice a year. The result of this epic team? Chef prepared local foods, paired with homebrew or local brew (Harvest Moon, Triumph). Many compliments were passed to both brewers and chefs alike! To say the event was a success is understatement; a sold out crowd enjoyed the best of both worlds, all for the benefit of a local charity.
A big thanks to the following: The entire Suydam family, all of Elijah’s Promise, and the PALE ALES that participated: Andy, Ben, Chuck, Dave, Kevin, Laurie, Paul, and Steve.
Due to the success of the event, they are really looking forward to a repeat in 2013!
Congratulations to Tim Kowalski (1st); Mark Russo (2nd); Russell Acevedo (3rd); and Ryan Hansen (4th). A big thanks goes out to all our sponsors: Princeton Homebrew, The Firkin Tavern, White Labs, Kane Brewing, Hop Union, Hub City and the Harvest Moon. Thanks for all the great pics, Dawn.
Dennis Flynn, the Regional Sales Rep for Stone Brewing Company, was kind enough to spend Valentine’s Day Eve with us at Trenton Social. Dennis led about 30 PALE ALES members through a tasting of a variety of Stone’s brews. Of course, it was only fitting for a meeting of the PALE ALES homebrew club to start things off with Stone’s flagship beer — the Pale Ale. From there, the arrogance came in heaps. We had the Arrogant Bastard, the Double Bastard and finally the 11.11.11 Vertical Epic.
Stone’s ability to push the progression of brewing has helped it set new standards along the way for US craft brewers. Few would argue with the idea that it was Stone that single-handedly created the “west coast style.” And I’m not talking about putting out a rap album based primarily on Parliament Funkadelic samples. I’m talking about a balanced, hop forward style that really didn’t exist back in the early 90s when Arrogant Bastard hit the shelves for the first time. As Joe Bair, owner of Princeton Homebrew tells it, “When I first opened my store, a 5-gallon batch of hoppy beer had no more than 3 ounces of hops. That all changed when the Arrogant Bastard clone recipes started circulating. Now, its not unusual to see a half-pound of hops in a single batch of beer.”
Its great to see that despite Stone’s incredible growth, that they manage find and keep well-versed and passionate people like Dennis working for them. His presentation struck a great balance for the few PALE ALErs that were new to Stone as well as all the Stoners (long-time Stone fans) in the room. Having been a part of a dozen or more of similar tasting meetings like this, Dennis is definitely among the best of his peers. We greatly appreciate him taking the time to come all the way down from Brooklyn! You can follow Dennis on Twitter @stonetristate and on Facebook.
It’s not often that the beer we sample at our homebrew club meetings doesn’t get completely drank. Of course, there is the occasional brewery that is anxious for us to taste samples of their latest attempt to dethrone Blue Moon. But, this is a little bit different. The purpose of this meeting was to intentionally taste bad beers to isolate different flavors and aromas that are associated with brewing defects. Its one thing to know that something smells or tastes “off.” But its another thing entirely to be able to isolate it, learn from it, and prevent it from happening again.
A huge debt of gratitude goes out to Dr. Steve Rowley for putting together a fantastic set of powerpoint slides and tinkering with a case of cheap Mexican beer. He added chemical compounds to each beer to emulate about 8 different brewing defects. We covered Dicetyl, Isoamyl Acetate, Phenyols, Iron, Chlorophenol, and Dimenthyl Sulfide. The crowd favorite was the good old fashioned Skunked Beer! And this is one you can try at home without a chemistry set! Find yourself a brown bottle, a green one and a clear one. Pour the exact same beer in all three and put them in the sun for a few minutes. Now, starting with a control beer that never was put in the sun, taste each of them. The results will surprise you.
A big thanks to Triumph for putting us up in their Sky Box for the evening and keeping pint glasses full so that we had some FINE beer to drink between mouthfuls of unpleasantries. And of course, thanks for the pics, Dawn!