Jan 6, 2014

My 10 Home Brew Goals for 2014

If I boiled my brewing goals down to one desire it'd be this: get better. Keep learning and working on the details in pursuit of perfection. No big deal. These are the 10 things I'm hoping to achieve in 2014.

1. Consistency
I want to improve the average standard of my brews. This was one of the big things I took away from the competition results in October. At the moment, aside from the odd infection, I'd say my worst beers are around 55/100 and the best are 85/100. I'd like to narrow that gap, get the worst ones up to 75 and the best ones to 90. I think the oxygenation and better yeast practices have been a big step in the right direction. A clean fermentation should get the worst beers up to 65-70 at least. Beyond that I'll have to find other ways to improve.

2. Dial in a couple of recipes
I'd also like to lock down 2 or 3 recipes. I have a number of recipes that are more or less set now but they're for beers where creativity isn't really a factor. There are only so many choices when you brew a hefeweizen, a berliner weisse or a dry stout. I mean beers where there's more freedom or where it's harder to stand out from the crowd. I'm probably shooting for a pale ale/IPA recipe and a saison recipe.

3. Get some experience brewing lagers
I got a new fermentation chest freezer recently so now I can begin to get a handle on lagers and pilsners without tying up my fermentation fridge for 2 months or longer. The home brew that sealed my interest in brewing and got me on this path was a pilsner hopped with Citra. I had no idea what I was doing but it turned out well and the rest is history. I'd like to recreate that beer as well as brew some traditional Czech and German beers.

4. Get to know Australian hops much better
There are quite a few Australian hops but aside from Galaxy, I don't think I've used any of them more than once. I'd like to get to know the hops that are grown practically in my backyard and learn how to make the most of them. I now have 1kg of Galaxy, Summer and Ella in my freezer so that's a good start.

5. Improve presentation
I'd also like to work on the presentation of my beers. Clarity in particular is something I've only taken small and inconsistent steps towards but I'd like to make presentation a basic part of my brewing process rather than an afterthought. Head formation is normally all good but colour is something I'd also like to put a little more thought into.

6. See home brew in Tasmania develop further
It was pretty awesome to do well in the state and national home brew competitions last year and I'd like to continue to enter and do well. More than that, I'd like to encourage other Tassie guys to enter and see them win. I'm hoping that this year we'll also be able to work towards a Hobart based home brew club. It's something I've been wanting to do for a while but I haven't been well enough to put effort into. Hopefully this year I'll have the energy. In addition to that, I'd like to get on the path to BJCP certification. I'm pretty keen to get into a more structured and defined beer tasting routine and it'd be a good thing to have some certified people in a brew club.

7. More brewing with brettanomyces
I've brewed a couple of 100% brett beers in the past but didn't get around to any in 2013. I'd like to get a brett IPA going soon and try out some others recipes during the year. I also want to try bottle conditioning with brett as I've always meant to but somehow never had my act together enough when it came time to bottle.

8. More sours
The story of sours in 2013 is similar to 100% brett beers. The spirit was willing but the body was weak. I reaped the benefits of a sour I brewed in 2012, dry hopping 1/2 of it with Simcoe turning it into one of the best beers I've brewed to date. In 2014 I'd like to get a few long term sours going as well as brewing a few that'll be ready sooner.

9. Keep getting better at yeast handling
In 2013 I gained more confidence in handling yeast, plating samples and growing up starters. In 2014 I'd like to take that to the next level with doing cell and viability counting and also begin fermenting with captured and isolated wild yeast strains.

10. More brewing for events
A big part of why I brew is to share delicious beer and fun times with other people. I consume less than 10% of the beer I brew, I give lots away and share the rest with visitors. I also like the project of designing and brewing beers for a special occasion or gathering of some kind. It's nice having a project to work on given my physical limitations thanks to CFS. The wedding and birthday I brewed for at the end of 2013 haven't even happened yet but I'm planning a few potential events. In particular I'd like to brew something for the World Cup. That'll be interesting since by my calculations, most of the games will kick off between 3am-12pm our time. Breakfast beer for everyone!

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