April Meeting Notes

Our April 17 Thirsty Third Thursday meetup will be held at Steins Beer Garden with owner Ted Kim and chef Colby Reade available to speak with us about their first year operating Steins. Please RSVP to moresimcoe@sudzers.org by the end of the day Monday April 7 if you plan to attend so that we can have enough space reserved.

Chris R and Linda are unable to host the spring club brew day on April 19, but Chris Q has generously agreed to host at his house on the same day. Stay tuned for details.

At our May club meeting, Justin will do a presentation on mash temperatures. In June, Charles will have a presentation comparing bottle-conditioned and kegged versions of the same brews.

The members-only event to review the BJCP off flavor kit will be held at Nick’s house on May 16. More details will be forthcoming. Steve C also volunteered to organize and teach a BJCP judging class this summer/fall and to host an examination.

At the July meeting, we will have a club-only session beers competition. All beers must be under 5% ABV, and judging will be split into two categories (hop-centric and non-hop-centric), with a best of show winner to be chosen from the top beers in each category.

A small selection of homebrews this month, but they were outstanding!

Derek W’s El Hefe Hefeweizen

Pete’s Saison with Dupont yeast cultured from a bottle and 85 degree fermentation

Charles’ NAB2 Biere de Garde

Charles’ NAB1 Leffe Belgian Blond clone

Mikael & Bill’s Lagunitas Sucks clone

Jim W’s  Smoked Porter with oak and chipotles

 

 

 

April 4 club meeting information

Hello Sudzers! Our April meeting will be held Friday, April 4 at 7 pm
at Nick’s house. Need the address or directions? Email
moresimcoe@sudzers.org. Don’t forget to carpool if possible to make
sure there’s enough parking to go around.

If you would like to pay your 2014 dues, entitling you to many club
benefits, including a 10% discount at MoreBeer and member-only events,
please bring $25 cash.

Because of the large number of homebrews that have been brought to
recent meetings, the officers have decided to implement a cap on the
formal evaluations. We will only have 15 beers presented per meeting
(of course, others may be brought and shared and critiqued during
social time before or after the meeting, but we will not pass them
around to every attendee). The first 15 brews (limit one per brewer)
entered on the whiteboard will be part of the formal tasting. If fewer
than 15 brewers bring beers, we can open up opportunities for brewers
to present a second beer.

7:00 Social Time

7:15 Club Business

-Upcoming events:
-Thirsty Third Thursday – Steins Beer Garden (with owner Ted Kim and
chef Colby Reade)
-Club Brew Day – April 19 at Chris and Linda’s house
-May meeting: presentation by Justin on mash temperatures
-Members-only off flavor tasting – date
-Session ales competition in July – judging criteria

7:30 Homebrew evaluations. Reminder: Bring your recipe – club members
will have lots of questions! Sign your beer in on the whiteboard along
with your name and statistics (IBU, ABV, etc. – optional, but helpful
in determining tasting order)

After homebrew evaluations: more social time/informal commercial brew
sharing. Always welcome: homebrews from any style to share.  Don’t have any
homebrew on hand right now? Feel free to bring other interesting brews
you’ve picked up. Don’t have a beer to bring? Please bring some snacks
to share.

March 8 Santa Cruz Bus Trip

On March 8, about 30 Sudzers took a bus tour to visit the breweries of the Santa Cruz coast. We had the opportunity to sample brews and talk with the brewers and/or owners of Santa Cruz Aleworks, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, Sante Adairius Rustic Ales, Discretion Brewing, and Seabright Brewery.

A few sample photos are included below, but you can see many more pictures courtesy of Paul S and Derek W at the Sudzers Flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/siliconvalleysudzers/sets/72157642454144895/

March meeting notes

The group thanked Nick for arranging the most excellent Gordon Biersch tour with Dan Gordon, which had 41.5 attendees! Ron wrote up the event and captured it in photos here.

The itinerary for the March 8 Santa Cruz Brewery Bus Tour was reviewed, with 5 destinations slated for one day: Santa Cruz Aleworks, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, Sante Adairius Rustic Ales, Discretion Brewing, and Seabright. Approximately 30 people planned to attend. No doubt there will be a writeup/photos on the website in a couple of weeks.

The members-only off flavor tasting had been scheduled to replace the March Thirsty Third Thursday meetup, but logistics are dictating that we need to reschedule in April. The group considered several options for the March TTT meetup, then voted to go to Gourmet Haus Staudt in Redwood City on March 20. The group also agreed that the April TTT meetup will be April 17 at Steins Beer Garden in Mountain View. Derek W mentioned that Steins is also working on creating a beer pairing brunch, and they will keep him informed.

The Spring Club Brew day was tentatively slated for Easter weekend at Chris R’s house. More details will be sent out once finalized.

There will be just a handful of Sudzers attending the National Homebrewers Conference in Grand Rapids, MI in June. If the Worts of Wisdom decide to have a booth at club night and/or serve in the hospitality suite, we may join forces with them.

Derek W asked the group about the idea of a homebrew club bowling competition event. The response was so-so, but not met with wild enthusiasm.

Jim W reminded the group that we are planning a session beers competition within the club in July – all beers must be under 5% alcohol. Jim will lead a group to decide whether we want to develop more specific judging criteria.

As a novelty item, Derek W shared some Pat’s Backcountry Beverages pale ale concentrate that he brought back from Colorado. The consensus was that the convenience of the small pouches would be excellent for a serious hiking trip, and that the beer was not bad considering that it came out of a pouch, but it was not a favorite, especially after a lineup of particularly impressive homebrews had been tasted this month.

Justin V will be doing a presentation on mash temperatures at the May club meeting.

Homebrews:

Adam C’s Dunkel

Aimee & Phil’s Single Hop Simcoe Pale Ale

David’s Wild Cider

Rich’s Tiny Pliny

Duncan’s Ginger Stout

David’s IPA

Justin’s Little Red Rye IPA

Charles’ IPA

Justin’s Belgian Tropics Brett IPA

Derek W’s Dark Matter-ish Imperial Stout

Chris R’s 1st State American Barleywine (speaking of, congrats to Chris and Lisa Linda on their upcoming Delaware adventure!)

Jim W’s Bastard Son Of Younger Imperial IPA

 

 

 

 

Ron’s Beer Blog: Sudzers Gordon Biersch tour with Dan Gordon

Dan Gordon is amazing. His knowledge of not only beer, but every aspect of beer processing is without equal. He spent many years in Germany learning about brewing and visiting hundreds of breweries. From that, he learned what to do, and also what not to do.

For example, most of the European breweries are hundreds of years old. As such, they have tons of legacy equipment that they are unwilling or unable to give up. Dan was determined from the outset, that Gordon Biersch would only consist of the latest, state of the art equipment, and more importantly, uniformity throughout the factory with identical equipment for every batch of beer that is brewed. All the fermenters are identical, same size, same manufacturer, as is everything else in the brewhouse. Everything is computer controlled from a “control room” that looks similar to a nuclear power plant. There are racks of industrial controllers with digital temperature and pressure gauges, run by custom programmable logic and embedded controllers. This interfaces to a master computer program, pc based (Windows 7) with 3 widescreen LCD monitors. The central one is the actual command center running the program. The other two on each side display graphical representations of every piece of equipment in the factory showing in real time their operational status. You can see what valves are open or closed, which pumps are actuated, the temperature of all the processing vessels, and tons of other things. With a few clicks of the keyboard, Dan can display every beer in the line and exactly what’s going on. The software was developed by NERB, a German company, which doesn’t have the market share of the top 2 or 3 companies that support the big, giant breweries with 24/7 support, but can offer more custom support for Dan’s requirement. Fluent in German, Dan uses German Windows and all the software user interfaces are all in German. On one wall, there was a 50” flat screen monitor, displaying process statistics of every batch of beer by style. While Dan was demonstrating all this from the control room, he invited all of us to help ourselves to bottles of beer from the fridge located next to the master control station.

From there, Dan guided us on a tour of the brewhouse production floor, which is massive, and so clean you could proverbially “eat off the floor”. With all this automation, there are very few employees. All the fermenters and other equipment are connected to what I would call a “bus” such that any vessel can be connected to any drain or other pump. Some of this requires manual intervention, but it is kept to a minimum. At one point, there is a beer tap on a line directly out of the fermentation tank, with a sign-off sheet. Each of the 8 or 10 brewers has to sample each batch of beer and approve it before release. This is where there was a cart full of pint glasses which he filled and handed out to each person on the tour to sample the beer connected. Dan knows every detail of every piece of equipment from each valve, each pressure regulator, and something he was very proud of, a huge filter used in most of the beers, which he bought in Europe and shipped over here.

Gordon Biersch uses all German grains, with a few different malts. They buy something like 40,000 lbs at a time, shipped by train for lowest cost. Because the last few miles of delivery are much more expensive, all the grain is delivered to someplace around Tracy. From there it is transferred to trucks for delivery to the factory. The grain silos hold 60,000 lbs, so there is always a 50% buffer before the new shipment arrives.

As you would expect from a German brewery, they don’t use a lot of hops. It’s all in the malt. So they take extreme care on handling the grain. All the transfer pumps operate at low pressure so as not to damage the husks. Then the grain is pre-treated before use in three different ways. One is a traditional method of soaking it in warm water. Another method is to just spray it with warm water, then gently run it through a press to squish out the enzymes. I don’t remember the third method.

The hops are all German or European variety, about seven different kinds. IBU’s run in the low teens, except maybe the newest Pale Ale, the first ale they have made to complement all the lagers. I noticed this is included in the new variety pack they were packing for Costco under the Kirkland brand.

The bottling equipment was equally impressive, exclusively using machines made by Krones from Europe. They buy all the bottles pre-packed in cases where the automated machinery extracts rows of bottles, fills them, purges the oxygen, caps them, applies the labels, and places them back in their cases. Otherwise, they fill 15g and 5g Sanke kegs, cleaned by another automated line. Because Dan strictly adheres to reinheitsgebot, the German Beer Purity Law, he is careful not to add anything other than Hops, Malt, Yeast, and Water. This includes any chemicals like sanitizer, or line cleaner, or water softener. They do use cleaners, but they make sure it is steam cleaned and purged with water before any beer comes in contact. And they do treat the water, but without any chemicals.

As with most brewers, cleanliness is of prime importance. Once a week, all the equipment goes through a “CIP”, or cleaning in process, again, all automated. When they clean certain valves and connectors, they completely tear them apart to clean every component. Dan made a point of telling us about all the welding joints in the liquid lines. After firing several welders that were unable to deliver the quality he demanded by bore scope inspections, they finally paid a welder three times as much that was able to create smooth welding joints inside the pipes. The reason is that normal welding leaves excess material at the joint that can collect contaminants which are nearly impossible to clean properly.

The last part of the tour was the lab, located in the extreme upper corner of the factory, a peaceful place with windows, far from the production equipment. Here there were many small flasks lined up with filter papers in each one, ready to the next day’s work. Again, Dan knows every piece of equipment in this room, including a couple of expensive measurement instruments which he was proud to show off.

Finally, on the way out, Dan handed out six packs of the Blonde Bock, which happens to be my favorite Gordon Biersch brew, and Dan says it’s his, too. I have to say, Dan is a walking encyclopedia of beer. Listening to him talk about brewing is like taking a 6 week crash course in brewing compressed to a 20 minute talk. There isn’t one aspect of brewing which he doesn’t have a wealth of information. For someone who is the founder and owner of a multi-million dollar operation with 35 restaurant breweries in the US, including Hawaii, and four in Taiwan, Dan is one of the most humble people you would meet. I also know him well as an accomplished jazz musician that plays trombone both at his own venues, but also with popular jazz bands that play at the annual San Jose Jazz Festival. And you can tell he loves his beer. The motto that is printed on their T-shirts and on the logo glassware is, “Never Trust a Skinny Brewer”.

Upcoming Sudzers Meeting Friday March 7

Hello Sudzers! Our March meeting will be held Friday, March 7 at 7 pm
at Nick’s house. Need the address or directions? Email
moresimcoe@sudzers.org. Don’t forget to carpool if possible to make
sure there’s enough parking to go around.

If you would like to pay your 2014 dues, entitling you to many club
benefits, including a 10% discount at MoreBeer and member-only events,
please bring $25 cash.

Because of the large number of homebrews that have been brought to
recent meetings, the officers have decided to implement a cap on the
formal evaluations. We will only have 15 beers presented per meeting
(of course, others may be brought and shared and critiqued during
social time before or after the meeting, but we will not pass them
around to every attendee). The first 15 brews (limit one per brewer)
entered on the whiteboard will be part of the formal tasting. If fewer
than 15 brewers bring beers, we can open up opportunities for brewers
to present a second beer.

7:00 Social Time

7:15 Club Business

-Report on Gordon Biersch tour with Dan Gordon (if anyone wants to
write up a blurb/provide some pics for the website, that would be
great!)
-Upcoming events:
-March 8 Santa Cruz bus trip
-Thirsty Third Thursday
-Members-only off flavor tasting
-April brew day – host needed
-National Homebrewers Conference
-Homebrew club bowling competition with other clubs
-Session ales competition in July – get your ideas ready now!

7:30 Homebrew evaluations. Reminder: Bring your recipe – club members
will have lots of questions! Sign your beer in on the whiteboard along
with your name and statistics (IBU, ABV, etc. – optional, but helpful
in determining tasting order)

After homebrew evaluations: more social time/informal commercial brew
sharing. Always welcome: homebrews from any style to share.  Don’t have any
homebrew on hand right now? Feel free to bring other interesting brews
you’ve picked up. Don’t have a beer to bring? Please bring some snacks
to share.

BeerCandy (founded by Sudzers members) featured on tv show Chopped

Last night’s episode of Chopped had BeerCandy (founded and produced by Sudzers Steve C. and Susie C.) in the ingredient baskets for all three courses - Hop Drops, Beer Taffy, and Stout Beer Jelly. Did I mention “Beer Taffy candied bacon?” If you didn’t see it last night, visit
http://www.foodnetwork.com/shows/chopped/1800-series/beer-here.html
for additional showtimes. Congrats, Steve and Susie!

February meeting notes

 

Tyler shared membership survey results that have helped set the agenda for Sudzers activities this year – most popular items were a beer/food pairing dinner this fall, a club session beers comp this summer, a BJCP style big beer competition open to all Bay Area brew clubs (3 styles: DIPA, Barleywine, Russian Imperial Stout), more club brew days, off flavor tasting (tentatively scheduled 3/20), and possible project day to make mash paddles or tap handles.

Bob the welder visited the meeting. He does food grade stainless welding for reasonable prices, and club members have been very satisfied with his work. He lives in East Bay but can do South Bay pickups, especially if people coordinate asking for multiple jobs. You can email Bob at tomkiewicz.b at gmail.com.

Sf beer week – members were encouraged to ping the email list if they found any great events

Nick has arranged for a private tour of the Gordon Biersch production facility in San Jose with Dan Gordon himself on February 28. Details to come by email.

Because of sf beer week, lousy weather, etc., we had a light turnout of about 20 attendees. However, the norm has been twice that, and parking for meetings has become a challenge. Folks are encouraged to carpool if at all possible.

Nick has supply of sturdier caps that fit starsan bottles if you’ve had problems with breakage of the factory caps. You can get them from him at the next meeting.

Club bus trip to Santa Cruz – see Derek H for registration. Looks like we are going to fill a 30-ish passenger bus. Because some venues are small and they are close together, the plan is to use the bus to shuttle people back and forth rather than just making one stop at each brewery. Derek H is accepting payment via PayPal – see his email for details. Thanks to Mike C for coordinating with breweries, Tim T for securing a bus, and Derek H for handling sales!

Derek W shared samples of the new “draft beer” flavored jelly bellies, and Nick shared some of BeerCandy’s much-more-enjoyable hop drops.

Nick talked about the triple second runnings black IPA he brewed with Marc Andre on the Dark Matter brew day in November. Three different brewers made batches of Dark Matter, and the second runnings from the first mash tun were run through the second mash tun, which was then used to sparge the third mash tun. The resulting wort was boiled with several ounces of experimental hops from Peter Licht at Hermitage, and produced a 6% black IPA. The plan was to do an international toast via Skype with Marc Andre in Montreal, but he was unavailable. We drank the beer anyway.

IMAG1467

Other homebrew tastings:

Derek W’s Kona Big Wave clone

Jeff’s Bee More Specific honey wheat ale using honey from Provence to bottle condition

Adam’s American Strong Ale

Steve and Derek H’s Red IPA

Mikael & Bill’s Dogfish 60 Minute clone

Justin’s Imperial Belgian Red Ale with tamarind

Justin’s Tripel