Keystone Homebrew Club Barrel Brew Championship

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!







Oktoberfest at Suydam Farms

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!











längste Theke der Welt (The Longest Bar in the World)

Located in North Rhine-Westphalia, the capital city of Düsseldorf lays claim to having the longest bar in the world.  Walking around casually, you see a modern and efficient German city which looks like what you might expect given that much of the city was rebuilt after being bombed quite thoroughly.  But where is such a long bar?  Tucked away in the center of the city, you will find the Altstadt (Old Town) which escaped the ruinous bombings.  Inside the area of roughly one-half square kilometer you will find ~300 bars and five breweries (Füchschen, Schumacher, Schlüssel, Uerige and the newly opened Brauerei Kürzer).  The streets are cobblestone, and the buildings show their age and design with old world charm. The breweries, which are more like brewpubs in that they have full restaurants and bars, all brew a single type of beer:  Altbier, and they are quite proud of it.  Sitting down outside of Füchschen I asked for a beer, which was met with a stern reply of “No pils.  Alt.”  This type of somewhat coarse treatment is not rude, but expected.  Some of the waiters at the other bars were more laid back, while some dialed it up either further!  Served in a 0.25L stange the altbiers of Düsseldorf are refreshing: a somewhat balanced (depending on which brewery you are at, Uerige is quite bitter) amber to brown beer, smoothed by cold lager conditioning, and medium carbonation from a gravity fed (and often wooden) keg.  It was an enjoyable time in a place I had only heard about, and has a distinct beer culture that is unique! 

Philly Pub Crawl 2012

Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love.  And perhaps, the greatest beer city in the US as it is now called by many.  Knowing this, we had a little pub crawl to see just how great things are going.  Starting at Nodding Head, some berliner weiss (award winning no less) was a nice and refreshing inbibe.  From there, a short wander to Monk’s which most folks know well for some interesting Belgians and a realization that it is always crowded (no surprise, great food and beer lead to that).  A little walk further, and up the stairs to the Perch Pub.  A bit newer, another great place for some great craft brews and little plates to keep thing going.  Taking a little further walk, our group ended up at Tria another well known wine and beer bar.  A cheese plate a few beers later, the suggestion was made for dinner; The Percy Street Barbeque.  Finding it turned out to be easy; you’re close when you can smell the hickory smoke!  After pork cheeks, pulled pork, brisket, ribs, and more great beers it was time to call it a night! Conclusion:  Philly is indeed a great beer city.  See it for yourself, you won’t regret it!

Big Brew 2012 – Brown ales

Across two locations (Suydam Farms and Princeton Homebrew) our homebrew club was hard brewing for National Homebrew day.  Following PALE ALES tradition, the recommended recipes from the AHA were turned down in favor of a different recipe: Brown ale threeway.  A good grist of optic malt, carapils, crystal 40L, and carafa III special laid a sturdy foundation for three styles of brown ale:  British hops and yeast to create a rich sweet brown ale, American hops and yeast to create a hoppy and sweet brown ale, and a small dose of bittering hops and a choice between a Flemish or Oud bruin yeast blends to create a sour brown ale.

Brewers came together with cars and trucks packed full of gear, showing a wide diversity of equipment and methods of churning out homebrew.

Keeping with tradition a toast for all homebrewers was held in the afternoon, followed by mint juleps in the afternoon to coincide with the Kentucky Derby!  Not to mention the variety of food and homebrews provided by members, it turned out to be another great Big Brew.  Nearly 200 gallons were made!

A big thanks goes out to the Suydam family for hosting the club at Suydam farms, and Gino for hosting the monster mash next door to Princeton Homebrew!

Annual Club Competition Results

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.

Arrogance — It’s All Relative: February Meeting

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.

January Meeting: What Not to Brew

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!


2012 Annual Holiday Party

Our annual potluck feast was carried off with great success on the evening of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  Many thanks to all those who brought food and beer, and special thanks to Chuck and Amelia for hosting it once again this year in the special not-really-square room, complete with wood-fired pizza oven, which was working well (no leftover pizza at all!). The lighting was no good for non-flash photography, but I did my best under the circumstances. [Tony]

Princeton and Local Environs Ale and Lager Enthusiast Society