15 Minute Hopping Challenge: A Success!

On Saturday we held the meetup for the 15-Minute Hopping Challenge, and I think it’s safe to call it a success. Most of the people who attended were either brewers, or friends/significant others of brewers. On my side, Miss Jiwaku and my friend Charles from Liminality joined in.

I’d say pretty much every brew we sampled from the home-brewed stuff ranged from very good to excellent. Bill’s dark hoppy lager, Dax’s fruity Belgian pale, Rob’s “The Shit” barley wine (wasn’t it?), Rowan’s mild and easy-drinking first brew ever (an ESB!), and all kinds of other good stuff thsat may have slipped my memory (for good reason, considering all those brews) were all on hand. And several of my Saisons were popular, especially (to my surprise) the one made without rye and aged six months, poured from the keg on the morning of the event, my “L’Identite Secret” Saison.

There were a lot of excellent commercial beers around for us to sample as well, thanks to Bill and Mark, who also hosted us afterwards with not only lovely brews from abroad, but killer barbecued prime rib. (It made me wish for both a barbecue and a rooftop on which to use it.)

As for late-hopping, my thoughts on the experiment are something I’ll append to a soon-to-be-written tasting of the two brews. I’m happy with how they came out, and though opinions varied as to which was the “best” of the late-hopped brews, I heard very flattering comments from a number of local brewers I sincerely respect. In any case, I was more interested in learning about the process, and it was, after all, an experiment. Certainly my American Pale Ale turned out quite enjoyable and flavorful for a mere 4% ABV, though the Belgian is my favorite of the two.  (At least when served cold, it has a nice fruity aroma to it, and a flavor that matches, though it gets more astringent when it’s warmer, a few people observed.)

It was a great event, in any case, and I am looking forward to whatever our next experiment will be…

In the meantime, my friend Nick, having just arrived from Canada, brought me a few ounces of Northern Brewer hops (California Common beer, here we come!), a few packs of sparkalloid (for clearing my big meads), and a packet of whiskey yeast. (Because I’m hoping to experiment making a beer with whiskey yeast, like the weirdly Belgian-like brew I had in Rome made that way.) I also have plans to build a cardboard box smoker for cool-smoking malt, and some other crazy ideas as well.

So… interesting times ahead.

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