2012 National Homebrewers Conference: Day 1 Recap

Day 1 of the 2012 Homebrewers Conference is a wrap and Day 2 two will get started in less than two hours.  I thought I’d jot down a quick recap of the first day. I expect to follow-up with a more detailed overview, but this should work for now. Please forgive poor grammar and low production value (as if it was so high before) since I don’t have much time.

After I signed in and received my fine welcome package, I headed upstairs for the conference's welcome toast. After the toast, we spent the rest of the afternoon in seminars.  I selected these sessions:

  • Brewing Techniques for Historical IPA.  Mitch Steele, Stone Brewmaster, gave us an overview of IPAs going back to 1750.  He separated it into four distinct periods and provided characteristics and brewing specs of the beers during each of these periods. Mitch did quite a bit of research into this as he just completed a book about IPAs that will be released this fall. Stone IPA and Ruination were served during the seminar, buy the way.
  • Exploring Attenuation.  Then it got hardcore. Greg Doss of Wyeast Labs share details of his still ongoing experiment to discover the factors that impact attenuation and develop a predictive model. I have a bit of a background in statistics, and I was blown away by his experiment. Much of it went over my head, so I guess I’ll wait for the Cliffe Notes version.
  • A Perspective of Brewing Berliner Weiss-Style Beer…with Beer!  Jess Gaudill of Wyeast Labs and Jason Kahler of newly launched Solera Brewing in Parkdale, OR talked about various methods to produce the style. I discovered this near-extinct style about year ago and love it. The challenge is that it takes a long time for the beer to develop its sour character. Jess and Jason conducted an experiment that explored the different ways to sour the beer using yeast and bacteria. Ultimately, they recommend pitching lactobacillus first and then pitching a lager yeast about seven days later.  I’ll provide the exact stain names later. They served two versions on the same beer.  One with just lacto, and the other with lacto and brett.  I liked both, but actually preferred the lacto-only version.  The latter had some sulfur in the aroma.

Then we took a break for dinner. We happened to visit a place with 130 beers on tap. I had one.

Pro-Brewers Night kicked off at 8pm. It’s a private beer fest where 45 breweries each served between 1 – 4 beers—and there are no tickets. According to my Untappd records, I sampled 19 beers (I stuck to small 2-3 ounce pours with plenty of water). As you might expect, it was a lot of fun! Many of the brewers were serving at their booths and were more than happy to talk about the beer. My only disappointment (and it was minor) was than only one sour beer was served—New Belgium’s Lips of Faith Tart Lychee. It was excellent, and the only beer that I had twice. At 11:30pm, PBN ended. They had to shut the lights off as people wouldn’t leave.

Worry not, because The Sasquatch Social Club commenced. The party moved to a smaller hall where a few homebrew clubs served about 50 different beers. I was happy to find a Sour Cherry Saison and a Flanders Red here. I left at about 12:30 pm. I expect the party rocked on its 2am closing time. 

It was a great opening day. On to Day 2….

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