The American Homebrewers Association (AHA) is a not-for-profit organization based in Boulder, Co., dedicated to promoting the community of homebrewers and empowering homebrewers to make the best beer in the world.
Many college students don’t know what to do with their life. After high school, many go to college or float part-time jobs until they decide on something and even then they are unsure of the direction they’ve chosen for themselves. The existential questions mount and the decisions become cloudier.
However, situated in the historical Tivoli Brewery building built in 1859, students at Metropolitan State University in Denver, Colo., have a different story line – one rooted in beer. The university has partnered with Tivoli Brewing and created the Beer Industry Program that offer courses from hospitality and tourism, to fermentation science, business, law, and marketing.
After taking a myriad of disciplines related to beer, students are able to choose their own path within the beer industry. But, before they’re able to graduated and move in to the real world, Professor Ethan Tsai, P.h.D, has his students homebrew beer to enter into the National Homebrew Competition. The thought behind it is to teach the students that brewing is as much sensory as it is scientific.
In groups of 5 or so, students develop recipes from scratch. Experimenting with different malts, hops, and yeasts within a style parameters, the students settle on a recipe and enter in to a few competitions. This year, two groups entered in to the National Homebrew Competition First Round, Denver region, with high hopes on quality feedback and low expectations on advancement.
[Left to right] National Homebrew Competition Director John Moorhead with group 1 members David Choate, Nick Anderberg, Sam Goertz, and Larry Altshuler.
Students in Group 1 were David Choate, Nick Anderberg, Sam Goertz, and Larry Altshuler. The group submitted a Saison and a Belgian Tripel, with the Saison taking 3rd and advancing to the Final Round in June during Homebrew Con in Providence, RI.
Almost everyone in the group homebrewed before starting the program at MSU, with Nick Anderberg getting his start as an undergrad in college homebrewing in his fraternity.
[Left to right] National Homebrew Competition Director John Moorhead with group 2 members Carey Lieberman, Kyle Koch, Kevin Chu, Bryan Nutsch, and Brian Denman.
Students in Group 2 were Carey Lieberman, Kyle Koch, Kevin Chu, Brian Nutsch, Bryan Denman. The group submitted a Hefeweizen and a Dunkelweizen, with the Hefeweizen taking 3rd place and advancing to the Final Round in June during Homebrew Con in Providence, RI.
Only a few had a homebrewing history prior to the program, but all of them spoke as if they had been brewing for years. Each student is so well versed in the technicalities and science of brewing that makes for stimulating conversation about beer.
Both groups were impressed with the feedback given in the competition compared to others, sighting similar findings themselves when performing sensory evaluation on their homebrew and not picking up on particular notes or parameters to style, especially for the entries that did not advance.
One reason the groups attribute the valuable feedback is the access to quality certified judges and the overall process of the competition. Colorado boasts an impressive amount of certified and above ranked BJCP judges that come out for the first round of the National Homebrew Competition. With such a high caliber of judges, the desire to enter this competition grows, which is why Dr. Tsai requires his students to enter each year.
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John Moorhead is the director of the National Homebrew Competition and the competitions coordinator for the American Homebrewers Association.
Homebrew will be pouring this weekend for a meaningful cause at Brew For Good 2019 in Minneapolis.
The homebrew sampler and fundraiser event will feature more than 75 beers, ciders, and meads from 50 homebrewers, including several Twin Cities area homebrew clubs and a handful of solo brewers.
The proceeds from the event benefit Think Small, a nonprofit focused on early education efforts in Minnesota. Organizers for the event, now in its second year, say it’s gratifying to see the general public learning more about and enjoying homebrew, while empowering homebrewers to use their passion and skill to support a good cause.
Brew For Good 2019 is happening Saturday, June 15, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Sociable Cider Werks in Northeast Minneapolis. To get tickets, make a suggested donation, and see the event’s epic tap list, see brewforgood.org.
Note: you will need at least a 6.5-gallon fermenter
Place crushed crystal and Special B malted grains in 2 gallons (7.6 L) of 155° F (68° C) water and let steep for 30 minutes. Strain out (and rinse with 3 quarts [3 L] hot water) and discard the crushed grains, reserving the approximately 2.5 gallons (9.5 L) of liquid to which you will now add malt extract and 60 minute hops. Bring to a boil.
The total boil time will be 60 minutes. When 10 minutes remain, add the 10-minute hops and Irish moss. After a total wort boil of 60 minutes, turn off the heat and add the 1 ounce of Cascade hops.
Immerse the covered pot of wort in a cold water bath and let sit for 15-30 minutes or the time it takes to have a couple homebrews. Strain out and sparge hops and direct the hot wort into a sanitized fermenter to which 2.5 gallons (9.5 L) of cold water has been added. If necessary add cold water to achieve a 5.5 gallon (21 L) batch size. Aerate the wort very well.
Pitch the yeast when temperature of wort is about 70° F (21°C). Ferment at about 70° F (21° C) for about one week or when fermentation shows signs of calm and stopping. Rack from your primary to a secondary and add the hop pellets for dry hopping. If you have the capability to “cellar” the beer at about 55° F (12.5° C) for about one week. Prime with sugar and bottle or keg when complete.
On May 16, the Brewers Association (BA) invited 134 small and independent brewers, brewery owners, employees, and state guild representatives to meet in the nation’s capital to advocate on behalf of the country’s small and independent brewing industry. The BA Hill Climb group logged 398 total visits, representing more than half the United States Congress.
The top priority for attendees was supporting the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (H.R. 1175/S. 362) and make the current federal excise tax recalibration rates permanent. The federal excise tax is the federal tax breweries pay per barrel of beer produced. The tax is currently $3.50 per barrel and will double to $7 per barrel on January 1, 2020 if the federal excise tax rates are not made permanent or extended.
The legislation currently has the support of more than 200 members of the House and more than half the United States Senate. Hill Climbers shared stories about how they are using the money they have saved on the tax recalibration to reinvest in their businesses, hire new employees, increase employee benefits, and improve their communities.
Trade and tariffs were also key issues, with brewers discussing how current tariffs affect their businesses. Attendees also advocated for full funding for the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) and for hops and barley research funding for the United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Services.
New this year were handouts discussing the United States homebrewing industry, the American Homebrewers Association, and the annual Capitol Hill Staff Homebrew Competition. The AHA has increased its presence among the nation’s leaders in the last few years through the Capitol Hill Staff Homebrew Competition and Homebrew on the Hill, as well as by pouring homebrew at the Brewers Association’s Hill receptions to members of Congress and their staffs, and now by participating in the Brewers Association’s annual Hill Climb.
During the visits, many staffers were intrigued by homebrewing and the competition, with some mentioning they already homebrewed or that one or more of their staffers homebrewed. Homebrewing is as popular on Capitol Hill as it is across the United States.
For more than a decade, the Brewers Association has come to D.C. to advocate for the small and independent brewing community, and now the AHA is embarking on a similar mission to advocate for homebrewers.
The day ended with a beer tasting reception at the Library of Congress for members of Congress and Congressional staff. Twenty-two breweries from across the United States served their beer at this event, and the AHA served a saison homebrewed by AHA staff.
2019 AHA Events in D.C.Homebrew on the Hill
On November 1, 2019, the Brewers Association and American Homebrewers Association will host a daylong event at which members of Congress and Congressional staff can help brew a beer with local homebrewers, AHA staff, and professional brewers. That beer will be served at the BA’s Congressional Holiday Reception in December. Urge your members of Congress to come learn about the process and politics of homebrewing. We will release more information, including time and location, as the event nears.
Annual Capitol Hill Staff Homebrew Competition
The Brewers Association and American Homebrewers Association invite Capitol Hill employees to show off their brewing skills in the annual Capitol Hill Homebrew Competition. Entrants can collaborate as a team or brew on their own and reap all the glory. Awards are given for Best of Show and for first, second, and third place in each category. All Capitol Hill employees/workers may participate.
Every hero needs a nemesis—a Moriarty for Sherlock, an Iago for Othello, the Yankees for the Red Sox. In the case of our heroic ales and lagers, it’s oxygen and its nefarious ability to destroy flavor and aroma.
While oxygen is crucial early on in fermentation, it’s also the cause of the dreaded “oxidation” effect. And in these days of uber-aromatic, uber-time-sensitive hoppy ales, the threat of oxygen—with its ability to wreck hop aroma, malt crispness, and just the sheer freshness of our beer—looms ever larger!
Trans-2-nonenal is one of several compounds formed due to oxidation. This compound causes the “papery” character associated with oxidation.
Tasters commonly report these characteristics when detecting an oxidized beer:
Paper product (wet cardboard)
Musty and earthy (mushrooms)
Sherry, raisins, brown sugar*
Browning/dulling of beer color
*Sometimes oxidation can enhance the character of a beer, and in some styles its presence is acceptable. Take barleywine for example. A well-aged strong ale like barleywine can benefit from hints of sherry, dark fruit, and brown sugar.
If you’re looking for a classic example of bad oxidation, just look for an IPA older than 9 months.
Cause & Prevention
It’s right there in the name! Oxygen is a majorly corrosive element, and it will quickly destroy any number of flavorful compounds while helping form the others mentioned above.
While we want oxygen in the beginning of fermentation to improve yeast sterol production—a process that in turn improves yeast cell walls and ultimately the entire fermentation—we desperately want to avoid oxygen later in the process.
Solution: Once fermentation has kicked off, it’s a no-go on O2! So after you oxygenate your wort for the yeast’s benefit, you want to avoid introducing oxygen until you take your first sip. There is a caveat when brewing high gravity beers (1.090+) in that some brewers recommend additional oxygen infusions 12 to 24 hours after pitching the yeast.
Here are some ways to prevent oxidation:
Transfer gently. When racking your beer—that is, moving it from the primary fermentation vessel to a secondary or into a keg or bottles—avoid splashing and causing foam or bubbles. Instead, favor a lower flow rate.
Purge with CO2. If you keg your beer and don’t do a full liquid purge (fill the keg with sanitizer and push it all out with CO2), then you’re missing an easy way to reduce oxygen in your kegs. You can also purge secondary fermenters with CO2 before racking beer into them.
Oxygen-absorbing caps. Those who bottle can use oxygen-absorbing caps to scavenge a small amount of oxygen from the bottle. But remember that bottle conditioning and oxygen absorption caps can only do so much to prevent oxidation damage.
Chemical additions. Brewers who specialize in aged styles have tried a number of compounds with antioxidant effects. Charlie Papazian swore by a pinch of cinnamon, while others have taken a hat tip from winemakers with the use of metabisulfite. Denny (my partner in crime) and I are both big fans of Brewtan B from Ajinimoto for this effect.
A slow, steady flow can help reduce the introduction of oxygen when racking (transferring beer/wort).
Despite our best efforts, some oxygen will always find its way into beer bottles and kegs. Given enough time, oxygen will rear itself in the form of oxidation-derived off-flavors.
Solution: Drink your beer…now! But seriously. There’s an argument to be made that beer is a fresh consumable, so unless you’re making a very strong (high alcohol) beer, it’s best not to wait for the inevitable march of time.
Like age, heat will allow oxygen to work its devilry, only faster. Increasing your beer’s storage temperature accelerates oxidative reactions.
Solution: For maximum lifespan, store your beers cold. A commonly accepted temperature for storing and aging beer is 55°F (13°C), but even colder is better! I’ve had kegs of “regular” strength (5.5% ABV) beer that have tasted crisp and fresh for years when stored at 35°F (1.6°C).
Did you know beer is categorized into more than 100 different styles? This variety is one of the many reasons we love to homebrew! It also means beer can come in an array of colors due to to the malts and other ingredients used in the recipe.
To describe beer color, a numerical scale called the Standard Reference Method (SRM) was developed by the American Society of Brewing Chemists (ASBC) in 1950. SRM ranges from pale yellow (1 SRM) all the way up to black (40+ SRM) and is primarily affected by ingredients, particularly specialty malts, but process variables such as boil time can also affect color.
If you’ve read through a beer recipe, you may have seen a color listed in this range. Charts like the one above (get yours today!) are helpful in identifying the color that corresponds to a given SRM and, thus, if a beer meets the style guidelines.
Brewers outside the United States frequently use a different scale named for the European Brewery Convention (EBC). To convert EBC to SRM, simply divide by 2, e.g. 20 EBC = 10 SRM. (The actual conversion factor is closer to 1.97, but dividing by 2 is simpler and good enough for most of us.)
Homebrew club insurance open enrollment will be open July 1, 2019 to Sept. 1, 2019. The insurance policy period will run from Sept. 1, 2019 to Sept. 1, 2020. Sign-up your club through West’s Insurance club enrollment form.
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The AHA’s general and liquor liability insurance for homebrew clubs is facilitated through West’s Insurance Co. and is the only plan of its kind that will cover your club’s meetings and events up to $1 million per occurrence for the very affordable annual premium of $3.75 per member. More than 400 homebrew clubs signed up for coverage last year, representing approximately 17,750 homebrewers around the United States.
In accordance with the AHA’s pledge to provide free insurance to clubs with high rates of AHA membership, 47 of those clubs also received checks reimbursing their premium payments, as 75 percent or more of those clubs’ members were also AHA members. The AHA reimbursed over $5,000 in total insurance premiums to eligible clubs during the 2018–2019 policy period.
The Rockhoppers Brew Club in Castle Rock, Colo. was one of the 47 clubs to hit 75 percent AHA membership, and receive free insurance.
“Receiving free club insurance from the AHA was fantastic!” said Rockhoppers president, Mike Bostwick, “We enjoyed the refund we received and used it to support our annual BJCP club competition, Biere de Rock, which specializes in Belgian style beers. Biere de Rock is our primary club fundraiser and has been a premier Colorado homebrew competition for nearly ten years.”
In addition to the Rockhoppers, both the Bloomington Hop Jockeys in Bloomington, Ind., and the Homebrewers of Greater Bangor in Bangor, Maine, reached AHA membership greater than 75 percent. These clubs used their premium reimbursements to fund new jockey boxes, allowing them to have more homebrew on tap at events.
“We’re planning to bring our new jockey boxes to use during Club Night at Homebrew Con!” said HGB club president Steve Johnson.
The 256 Brewers in Huntsville, Ala., used their reimbursement funds to purchase logo stickers for new members and to give away at club outings, while the South Sound Suds Society in Olympia, Wash., was able to purchase various pieces of brewing equipment to offer as door prizes at their club’s annual Big Brew event.
The AHA’s club insurance program has grown every year since its inception in 2014, when 253 clubs opted for coverage during the first-ever policy period. Prior to 2014, many other homebrew clubs found themselves paying exorbitant fees for basic insurance packages that didn’t fully cover many of their group events.
The number of homebrew clubs opting for insurance coverage through the AHA’s plan facilitated through West’s Insurance has grown every year since it’s inception in 2014.
“Our club used to get insurance on the open market. It was about $900 to insure our board of directors and $1,700 for the whole club,” said Roxanne Westendorf, current AHA Governing Committee chair. Roxanne is the former president of the Bloatarian Brewing League in Cincinnati, Ohio, a club that now gets general and liquor liability coverage for less than $500 for all 129 of its club members through the AHA.
“The club insurance program has saved our club a lot of money and given us the alcohol coverage that we couldn’t get before!” Roxanne continued. “We participate in both the general and liquor liability and the D&O insurance programs.”
In addition to the general and liquor liability insurance coverage, the AHA also makes a directors and officers (D&O) insurance plan available through West’s Insurance. During the 2018–2018 policy period, 39 clubs signed up for D&O coverage, which offers added liability protection for club leaders in elected positions. The AHA does not offer reimbursement for the D&O plan.
Homebrew club insurance open enrollment starts July 1, 2019, and the deadline to sign up is Sept. 1, 2019. The insurance policy period will run from Sept. 1, 2019 to Sept. 1, 2020. Clubs that hit 75% AHA membership and become eligible for premium reimbursement will automatically be mailed a check from the AHA.
Clubs that miss the September open enrollment deadline will have the opportunity to sign up again for the late-enrollment 9-month policy that begins on Dec. 1, 2019 for $3.75 per member, or they can sign up for the 6-month policy period that runs from March 1, 2020 to Sept. 1, 2020 for $1.88 per member.