Where the Wild Beers Are…

A few brewing-related events lately warrant a post. First, I ended up supplying the beer for a party hosted by Soyeon Jeong and her husband Dongjin Lee. She posted about the party here, with a photo (though all the faces are blacked out for some reason… privacy, I guess). I haven’t said much about it here, so I’ll just say I had a great time, it was fun to geek out, talk SF (and other stuff) and it was fun to see so many people enjoying my beer.

Anyway, there were a few bottles of IPA left over, which I left with them to finish off. And what do you know, but Dongjin (nyxity) tweeted a picture of one of my IPAs sighted in the wild:

Sighted in the Wild
Photo by Dongjin Lee.

And on Saturday night, the SMaSH-off took place in Jukjeon. The beers were mostly great, too — especially the top few, which blew me away. I’m eager to see the recipes for #3 and #1 alike… #3 (KMac’s) was this crazy piney beer, and #1 (by Bill/Wamille) was just beautiful.

But beer aside, it was great to meet so many of the folks I’ve seen online at Homebrewkorea.com. My impression was exactly what I expected: a big, friendly, generous, and funny crowd. Bill was giving out copies of brewing magazines of which he had extras, and gave me a lift to the city at the end of the event, too — not to mention giving away enormous amounts of the winning brew to anyone who wanted it. It was great to hang out, even if I suspect that the combination of too much beer and political talk ended up with me getting a little pushy. I hope not too pushy, though, since my impression was, disagreements aside, everyone I met was genuinely nice.

Homebrew Korea First Annual SMaSH-Off

As for the results of the tasting and scoring — it was a contest, after all! — my sour ale did… well, if you look here (near the bottom of the page) you can see that I tied for last place with Eric, who was seated next to me and whose commentary on each beer was a riot.

I don’t feel bad about tying for last since, after all, I didn’t expect to do so well anyway, but also because, frankly, I didn’t expect the sour brew would be a big hit. That said, one brewer — not a participant, but rather someone involved in the Korean microbrew scene — asked me for the recipe, and he and his friend insisted that for a sour ale, it was pretty good.

That said, I’ve sampled it again since, and found I could detect some of the off-flavors that others noticed: an ethanol harshness, along with the expected bitterness, is the main one, and it remains in the aftertaste. Well, but this was a ~6% or 7% beer, so maybe it just needs more aging. I’m taking Rob’s advice — offered during sampling — and I’m going to age what’s left of it. That should mellow some of the harshness, and probably also bring out some of the hidden flavors. I’m hoping it’ll be milder by midsummer, as it’d be nice to have a sour ale to quaff on occasion. If not, well, I’ll be able to add small amounts of it to stouts for that sour tanginess that is so popular in Guinness.

Zenkimchi also took some pictures of the event and posted a little review. Somehow, I’m in nearly every pic he posted, though he was gone by the time got around to passing out samples of my beer to non-participants. Sorry Zenkimchi, but then, it was the losing beer, so you probably didn’t miss much… maybe next time.

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