Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Meeting Today! - May 17, 2011

Just a reminder for all of you that our monthly general meeting is tonight at 7:30 PM at the Bridgeport VFW Post 5079 at 3202 S. May! The board of directors meeting begins promptly at 6:30.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Big Brew 2011!

Big Brew is tomorrow starting at 10 AM. Last year the club brewed 140 gallon, 70 of Dunkelweizen and 70 of American Rye Amber. This year a single 120 gallon batch of English IPA will have to suffice. Beer and bbq will be enjoyed by all.

See you there!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How to brew mauby

Those of you who showed up to last night's meeting sampled a new beverage I recently discovered called mauby. It's a Caribbean soft drink that was originally fermented, if only for carbonation, though I'm sure you can let the gravity drop a few more points to make things a bit more fun.

The following recipe I obtained from an old book about native Haitian plants and vegetables used for medicinal purposes. Maby, as the Haitians call it, was implanted from Jamaica and was one of the earliest fermented beverages drank in Haiti, before the importation of English beers in the late 1800s under the administration of President Boisrond-Canal. Similar in flavor to a ginger beer or root beer, maby can be occasionally served with white rum or gin.

The units of measurement in the recipe were rather arbitrary, so I'll list the measurements the recipe called for and what I actually measured out are in parentheses.

Mauby bark - 6 finger-length pieces (approx. 5 grams)
Chewstick - 3 pieces the same length (approx. 25-30 g)
Ginger - 3 grated legs/branches of the root (approx. 3 TBSP grated)
Melegueta leaves - 1 TBSP
Lime peels - 3 whole peels
Cinnamon - a strong pinch (1/2 tsp)
Star anise - a strong pinch (1 tsp--the star anise wasn't ground so after pulverizing it a bit, I settled on 1 tsp rather than 1/2 since most of the scoop was still empty space)
Raw brown sugar - 1 1/2 lbs to 2 lbs (I used 2 lbs)
1 gal water

This recipe makes a 1 gallon batch. Just dump everything into the pot and boil for about half an hour. There are plenty of solids from the spices so I definitely recommend using a mesh bag as it'll make filtering at the end easier. The recipe shows that maby was traditionally bottle fermented, so I just used a simple rehydrated dry ale yeast and let ferment at room temperature for a day or two in 22-oz bottles or larger. As this is being bottle fermented, I wouldn't recommend using 12-oz bottles as they may not be able to withstand the pressure.

Finding the ingredients can be tricky, but thankfully Chicago's wonderfully diverse with plenty of ethnic grocers and markets. Most Caribbean and West Indian markets will have the mauby bark and chewsticks available. I found mine at Rogers Park Fruit Market on Clark St. between Touhy and Howard. Raw brown sugar can be found at any Hispanic grocer sold as piloncillo.

The only ingredient I couldn't find during my hunt were the melegueta leaves. Aframomum melegueta, produces the spice more commonly known as grains of paradise. However, this recipe doesn't require the seed, but rather the leaves. I was fortunate enough to have family in Queens who mailed over a couple packets of the leaves for me. If anyone knows where to find this in Chicagoland, please let me know!

Monday, April 18, 2011

UPDATE: Same time, different location for tomorrow's meeting

This meeting's going to be a bit different. Since the VFW was double booked, the Board of Directors is meeting at Maria's Community Bar on 31st & Morgan at 6:30 PM. From here, those of you taking mass transit can meet and carpool with some of the drivers to The Plant for the general meeting.

The general meeting will be at The Plant, located at 1400 W. Bishop, near the corner of 46th & Bishop. It's just behind the Super Mas Market visible from 47th St.

Several members checked the place out on Saturday and recommend those of you who have them to bring your own lawn chair. The location's still undergoing development and there wasn't much furniture around.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Details for this month's meeting up in the air...

We recently received word of a potential conflict with the Bridgeport VFW (where our monthly meetings are held) for this month's general meeting, currently scheduled for this upcoming Tuesday, the 19th. As such, there's a strong possibility that the location (and perhaps even the date) of the meeting could change. We'll post the time and location of the meeting as soon as we get everything worked out, so please check back here before heading out to the VFW on Tuesday. However things shake out, we hope to still have a regular meeting with Homebrewer's Corner, the monthly tasting, etc. Thanks for your understanding.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Congrats to Tom Saldana--Binny's/Sam Adams Homebrew Champ!

We're very excited to announce that current HOPS! member and former HOPS! president Tom Saldana won the Binny's and Sam Adams Long Shot Homebrew Contest! After waiting in line on a cold Tuesday morning to make sure he was one of the fifty contestants, Tom emerged as the victor on Saturday. His winning entry was a Russian Imperial Stout which has aged for two years. His prize? A trip for two to the Great American Beer Fest that includes tickets, airfare, and hotel. Now that's a prize.

Congrats to Tom for showing us mere mortals how it's done. We look forward to trying some of the beers you bring back from Denver in the fall (hint, hint)!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

HOPS! represents at the BOSS Chicago Cup

A guest post from our competition guru, Michael:

The BOSS competition results are up [in PDF form here] and the club made a very strong showing, taking home 17 ribbons! These included a number of 1st place beers! Brian Keyes took first with his Dortmunder Export and Matt & Meg took 2 firsts with their American Stout and their Barleywine. Nate Baker took a1st in Spice/Herb/Vegetable, and Brian Eich took home top marks in the always difficult IPA category. Bob, Klavs, Russ & Leah, and myself all took home assorted seconds and thirds; the people mentioned above took a number of other awards as well.Having 8 brewers take home 17 ribbons completely tops our 5 club ribbons last year. If you are keeping score, HOPS! took home about 20% of the total ribbons up for grabs. Check out the scoresheets for a full breakdown of who won what: http://www.bossbeer.org/BOSS_2011Winners.pdf

A number of us went down to judge including Bob, Tom, Noel, Brian Eich, Nate Baker, Lovey, Klavs, Matt, Meg, Gary Gulley, and myself. We had a great time and the guys from BOSS continue to be the most gracious and awesome of hosts, as does the mighty Maple Tree Inn in Blue Island. We had a number of great beers during the comp and a ton of great beer at their amazing bar. The Muffuletta sandwiches were still amazing and Charlie Orr's memory was justly celebrated throughout the day. Our good friends from Iowa, Scott and Karen Schaar, came out to judge and it was nice to see them and the usual cast of BJCP characters from around Chicagoland. The multi-award-winning Rod-K even shared some homebrew secrets with us all as the beer flowed freely over lunch and afterwards.

I'd like to send a heartfelt congratulations and thank you to all the brewers who have entered, participated in club meetings, and were on the competition team this year. This was a great result and we will build on it in years to come. Back in October we set up the comp team to have members brew widely to get beers into as many categories as possible and have people brew styles they haven't brewed before. Happily this worked and we look forward to doing the same thing next year. Anyone is welcome to join in the comp team as long as they agree to try and enter at least 5 beers into BOSS, have a few of those cover empty spaces in our line-up, and bring beer to the comp team get togethers.

Most importantly, I'd like to thank everyone from the club for being such eager, engaged, and vocal homebrew connoisseurs during the meetings and especially the homebrewers' corner that Steve, Noel, and Brian run each and every month. It can be thankless organizing that but they do a great job getting everyone to focus on a beer and help our brewers get better. These sorts of successes are only made possible by drawing on the knowledge of everyone in the club, be they novices or homebrew hoarders with all the newest toys, theories, and avant-garde hops.

Thanks again to everyone. Now get brewing for Nationals, The Puget Sound Pro-Am, and The Sam Adams Longshot!

Thanks, Michael, for the summary. I'd like to also give a big thanks to Michael for leading the push to put our best brewing foot forward at the BOSS competition, and also thank the folks at BOSS for putting on a great competition (as they do every year).