/ nhc2014

NHC 2014 Review pt. 2

The original post became such an unbearable wall of text, I have split it into a second part to maintain the sanity of the reader.

Continued from Pt.1

  • No Boil Hop Beer - The idea of this experiment isn't as crazy as it sounds. The experiment only adds in hops during transfer from the mash tun to the kettle and post boil. Essentially, the effects should be similar to mash hopping and hop bursting and the results are ... similar to the effects of mash hopping and hop bursting. Still a great experiment to help open the mind of brewers everywhere.

  • Obscure and Ancient Beers - This seemed to mostly revolve around
    juniper beer and gose. Steinbier, gruit, and braggot are mentioned. Everything said could have easily been found with a Google search on these styles if you're interested in making them.

  • Pair Like A Pro: Palate Tips and Pairing Practice - The first third of this talk is the speaker telling you her credentials and how great she is. Skip through this until about twenty minutes or so into it and you'll find some good nuggets of information. Many of the ideas of pairing beer and food seem to be inherited from the culinary world, so some of this might not be a surprise to chefs. I think combining this with some of the lessons from Sensory Evaluation would do a lot for a brewer's vocabulary and perception of taste and aroma.

  • Practical Brewing for Better Beer - It struck me that this talk was like the Cliff Notes for How To Brew. A great talk for new brewers, but anyone of an intermediate level or above could skip this talk.

  • Putting Some Numbers on First Wort and Mash Hop additions - I really like this experiment. I dislike the notion that "mash hoping is a waste of hops". If you've ever tasted the wort coming out of a hopped mash, you know that there is certainly some transfer of hop flavor going on. It's interesting to note that they found it's about 30% the IBU contribution of a 60 min. charge. Not quite as surprising is that the difference between a 60 min charge and FHW is only about 10%. I liked that there were many questions at the end that lent themselves to future experiments on the subject.

  • Really Understanding Honey - It would probably be better to call this History of the Honey Gatherers. I don't know if you're really going to understand honey any better after listening to this talk. The biggest take away was that the presence of branch chain amino acids in honey causes the formation of fusel alcohols during fermentation and that causes "mead hangovers". Also, coffee blossom, meadowfoam, and Tasmanian leatherwood are now all on my list of honeys to try.

  • S. eubayanus: Practical Brewing Knowledge with the Father of Lager Yeast - Anyone who listens to this talk will probably want to try and track down a sample of S. eubayanus to play with. You'll learn about the history of the strain and how it became the lager yeast we know today. The brewing experiment conducted with it shows it clears well with cold crashing, no esters, low sulfur, no diacetyl, and honey aroma over a spectrum of fermentation temperatures. It's a lower attenuator, but it seems to end crisp.

  • Scaling Hops: A Comparison Between Homebrew and Commercial Utilization - While the quality of the talk was high, this was another instance of "ummm, yeah". The conclusions you can get out of this is bitterness scales fairly well, but actual utilization depends on your equipment. You need to experiment to determine your equipment's utilization. Aroma doesn't scale up as well and you need to use more hops to get more aroma.

  • Sensory Evaluation: Methods to Improve Your Palate and Vocabulary - The only way to expand and train your palate is to drink lots of beer (yay!) and drink it critically. Cross train with wine tasting, food tasting, etc. Train with others in order to learn from one another. Start judging beer in contests in order to increase your exposure and learn from other judges. tl;dr - practice makes perfect.

  • The 2014 BJCP Style Guidelines - The title says it all: it's an overview of the changes in the BJCP style guidelines with a little bit of explanation of why those changes were made.

  • The Home Brewer’s Guide to Vintage Beer - I could listen to Ron talk all day. This is mostly a focus on 18th and 19th British brewing history and practice, but Ron somehow brings it alive and makes it "more". A great talk and certainly worth your time.

  • The Influence of Mashing on Sour Beer Production - It's a bit of a crime that the beginning of this talk gets cut off. Hard to say how much was actually missed, but it seems like a lot. What's left is a lot of great information on how to make sour beers. I can't recall hearing or reading as detailed an approach to making sours as you'll find here. An excellent talk and a must listen for anyone interested in sour beers.

  • The Malt Nerds History Hour - You wouldn't expect this to be a funny talk, but I found myself laughing quite a bit. Covers mostly malting practices in the 18th and 19th centuries. I learned a lot about malting practices I never knew and they give an overview on their traditional brown malt experiment.

  • The Perfect Keg: Sowing, Scything, Malting and Brewing My Way to the Best-Ever Pint of Beer - Here is the story of a man who, by his own admission, doesn't know how to make beer, and starts his adventure by trying to make an estate beer. You have to admire someone who really dives head first into something. Many mistakes are made here and the presenter readily admits to it. He's determined to prevail and finds a way

  • The Shenanigans of Barrel Aging - I found it odd that this talk, much like Barrel Aging – Using Spirits Barrels and Blending Sour Ales in Wood, focused on one particular brewery instead of a more analytical approach to utilizing barrels. You'll learn a bit more than Barrel Aging but it's mostly stories and anecdotes about Founders.

  • The Use of Herbs, Spices and Other Botanical Ingredients in Today’s Beer Recipes - Mitch Steele goes over everything he's learned by experimenting with herbs and spices while working at Stone. The best thing to do with this talk is to skip the audio and Right Click->Save As the notes. Refer back to this PDF whenever you're considering using a spice/herb to get some idea of the amount you'd want to use.

  • Top 10 Legal Mistakes Start-Up Breweries Make - Let me see if I can sum this up more succinctly: cover your butt, know the laws (financial and regulatory for alcohol) and follow them, signing agreements without legal counsel, not keeping your secrets, not keeping up with your money, poor resource utilization, and not keeping up with the industry. Solution: Get a lawyer, an accountant, keep your mouth shut, and your ears open.

  • Water Chemistry and Beer pH - This is more or less a summary of the Water book. It's a good intro to the subject, but even Palmer answers many of the questions with "I don't know off the top of my head, look in the book".

  • Yes, Funky Sour Meads - Essentially, it's said that it's not really possible to make a sour mead. Brett produced no off flavors and they think the antiseptic qualities of honey kill off any other flavorful bugs.

So there you have it. If you haven't already, head on over to the AHA conference archive (membership required) and expand your brewing knowledge a bit!