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Wednesday, 10 August 2011

The Great British Homebrew Challenge 2011

Homebrewing beer has come a long way over the years. All Grain brewing is becoming more and more popular.  I think the age of technology and the interweb have all played their part in helping this brewing explosion in peoples kitchens, garages, gardens and even the odd shed or two.

Most home brewers can produce quality beers on mostly cobbled together equipment, trying to emulate the ever expanding craft and micro brewers throughout the country, many of whom also started off brewing as a hobby.

One thing that all home brewers like is constructive feedback on their beers, allowing for a never ceasing circle of continuous improvement to process and a better understanding of how to brew really great beers. It is a fantastic hobby to get involved in and has it's rewards at the end - being the end product that can be shared (with friends, family and even strangers via the brew exchange) or kept for personal enjoyment.

Another way of recieving feedback on beers is to enter brewing competitions. However, over the last few years I've realised that the main problem with the success of home brew competitions is the size of the entry, and also the large national competitions are few and far between. Yes, there are national competitions run on a small scale from Internet forums like the Brew Exchange but these never receive a huge amount of interest and eventually after a few competitions the interest seems to die completely.

So it's with a certain amount of excitement that I am now planning for possibly 3 entries into The Great British Homebrew Challenge 2011. Being run by the award winning Thornbridge Brewery in conjuntion with Nicholsons Pubs. There are cash prizes for best in each category with the overall winner being selected by Nicholsons Pubs to be brewed by Thornbridge and served as a beer nationwide in the pub chain.

So now I have some decisions to make. I can enter up to 3 separate categories. Unfortunately 2 of the I'm currently thinking of brewing fall into the same category so I think I need to do some playing around in Beersmith 2. Still, it keeps me off the streets! ;)

So come on fellow homebrewers out there. Don't be afraid to get stuck in. Let's make this homebrew competition a success. Show off your beer and be proud of crafting a quality product from an enjoyable and friendly hobby.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Wolds Bitter

A while back now I blogged about doing an Ordinary Bitter. it was a case of having most other styles sorted in terms of my own house recipes except for a standard, session bitter.

The brew started off well, hitting all the numbers on the brew day but then I started having yeast issues in fermentation. The liquid yeast I pitched first just didn't get going so eventually I repitched with some Windsor yeast. The Windsor yeast did the job but when the beer went into secondary it was looking a bit on the murky side.

To cut a long story short, it took an age to clear and wasn't tasting that good. Finally in the last few weeks it has dropped bright and clear and the flavour has been transformed. I designed the recipe to have some of the fruity flavours that you get in a Riggwelter but in a smaller beer and with more bitterness.

Although I wanted a smaller beer I still wanted it to have somebody and balance about it. So here it is - weighing in at about 3.8% ABV with a bitterness of around 35 IBUs.

I'll definitely rebrew this but next time with a yeast that'll get to work on it straight away. Maybe Thames Valley liquid yeast or even a Nottingham dried yeast.