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Homebrewer Bios / Brewer Bio: Robert Hand
« on: April 28, 2015, 12:06:00 PM »

Who Are You: 
Robert Hand (WDE97).

Well, after a few years on this forum, I figured it was time to finally get around to putting up my bio.

Home Town (City, State):
Lewiston, Idaho
Homebrew Club:
Wizards of Ale Homebrew Club (WOAH)

I’m fortunate to be a part of a very active brew club. We aren’t very big, but have a great core group that does a lot: we run a local Big Brew event, teach an annual homebrew class, have numerous group brews every year, actively help each other with becoming better brewers, and run our local county fair Homebrew Contest which is a sanctioned AHA event.

However, the thing I’m most proud of is that our club does a quarterly Charity Tap Takeover at Riverport Brewery. We brew a bunch of beer and serve it at the brewery with all the money going to a local charity. It is always well received and is a great way for us to give back to our community!

I've been a homebrewer since:
I did my first batch in 1997 while in college in Auburn, AL.  A couple classmates of mine were home brewers and all it took was tasting their beer to decide I needed to start.  I helped them with a few batches to learn the process, bought a few books, and was hooked!

Do you have a homebrewing disaster you'd like to share?
A few... not using a blowoff tube for big beers is one I keep doing for some reason. Took a few messes to finally get in the habit of using one. However, not even a blowoff tube always works (see below)!! The scariest was dropping an empty glass carboy onto the tile floor of my bathroom while barefoot. Glass everywhere, but somehow I didn’t get cut. Lessons learned? Get rid of the glass and don’t brew or clean up while barefoot!! 

What is your favorite style(s) to brew?
Strong Scotch Ale, APA

What style(s) will you never brew?
I’ve learned to “never say never”. I used to swear I would never, ever, brew a sour beer. Why would anyone want to do that to beer? Well, after trying a few through our club and at NHC Seattle in 2012, I’m hooked on sour beer. I’ve brewed many sours since then and our club now has two 60gal wine barrels for sour beer: a Chardonnay barrel with a sour blonde (pic below) and a Cab Sauv barrel with a Flanders Red.   

What was the first beer you ever brewed?  How did it turn out?
I don't know why, but I tried to make a fruit beer using a pale ale kit and adding blackberries.  It was a comedy of errors...major boilover, tried to sanitize the berries using hot water but ended up cooking them, sanitation was probably a bit iffy....  It turned out looking like a strawberry shake (reddish and milky appearance) and was way overcarbonated. Amazingly it actually ended up tasting pretty good.  I drank every one of them!  Hmm, maybe this should go under the homebrewing disaster question. 

Have you ever had a homebrew mistake that turned out great?
Other than my first beer, I forgot to put the false bottom in my mash tun one time. I got mad and just dumped the whole mash tun into another container, installed the false bottom, and dumped it all back in. I was sure it would be completely ruined, but it turned out to be one of the best APA’s I’ve ever made.

Are you a BJCP Judge?  If so, what is your rank and how long have you been judging?
No, but hope to be some day.

Do you have a favorite homebrew trick or gadget that you've found to make your beer better/brewing easier, etc?
Nothing special, just some of the same stuff everyone else does: good sanitation, wort chiller, yeast starters, temp control, etc. I just finished building a dedicated temp control chamber with dual stage controller. I was using an old fridge, but that now houses all of my bottled homebrew and commercial beer at cellar temps. Having a proper dual stage temperature control system is awesome and has definitely helped improve my beer. Plus, now I can start laagering!
Do you brew alone, with friends or with someone you live with?
Mostly alone, but our homebrew club brews together a few times a year for club experiments, Big Brew, etc. Also, my wife helps sometimes. She is the most awesome wife a homebrewer could have! She loves my beer, encourages me to brew often, has no problem with me using an entire bedroom to store all of my brewing stuff, and is even a member of our homebrew club!

Describe your brew system.
I moved up to all grain brewing in 2010. I use 10 gal Rubbermaid drink coolers, a 10gal SS brew pot, and a Blichmann burner. Also have a 5gal Rubbermaid set-up for making smaller batches. I boil on the back deck and ferment either in a basement closet or my new temp control chamber. I built a 5-tap kegerator using a chest freezer with temperature control, a full size refrigerator for bottled beer, and have an entire spare bedroom dedicated to storing all of my brew stuff! I also have a 15 gallon whiskey barrel I'm using to age a Belgian Dark Strong.

Link to Kegerator Build:

How frequently do you brew (times/month or /year)?
It comes and goes, but I have brewed @ 20 batches in the last year.  I usually brew a bunch from fall - early spring, and then don’t brew for a few months during the summer when I am really busy with work.  Mostly do 5 gal batches, with a few 2.5 gal test batches thrown in.

What is your favorite local craft brewery?
My favorite is Riverport Brewing Co. across the river in Clarkston, WA.  It was started by a couple of local guys, and has really taken off. They have a bunch of great beers, but my favorites are their IPA’s and Bock.  The setting couldn’t be better with the tasting room inside the brewery, and the deck has a great view of the local hills and the Snake River. They even help local homebrewers out by ordering grain for us and selling us bulk grain and hops at cost. They even let us grab fresh yeast from the fermenters. It’s amazing how fast fermentation starts when you use a nice fresh pitch of active yeast! 

What is your favorite malt?  Why?
Golden Promise. Just love the richer taste and greater depth of flavor I get from it for my Scottish Ales.

What is your favorite hop? Why?
Amarillo.  I really like the grapefruit/herbal flavor and aroma. I use tons of it in my Amarillo/Simcoe IPA

Do you have a favorite or house yeast? What qualities do you like about that yeast?
Don’t really have a “house yeast”. My favorite is probably WY1728 Scottish Ale since I use it in my favorite beer.  However, I most often use WY1028 London and US-05.

Do you have a good homebrew club story you'd like to share?
A few years ago a new brewer brought in his first beer, which several club regulars helped him make.  Well, it turns out they used a brand new garden hose to fill up their pots for brewing water. The resulting beer had the strongest “garden hose” taste you can imagine!!  We all had a really good laugh about it, and the guy took it pretty well.  Fortunately, after an extra month of aging the hose taste disappeared. 

Also, our homebrew club always seems to pick the coldest day of the year every year to do a club brew day. In February 2014, we ended up brewing on a day where the high temperature was 6°F! It was a blast, but the guy whose house we brewed at ended up with a solid sheet of ice on his driveway.

How many medals have you won from homebrew competitions?
I was fortunate enough to be a co-brewer with Kyle Schmitt on his NHC gold medal winning Dopplebock in 2014!! I have won a number of ribbons at our county fair competition, including BOS in 2009 for my RIS, and BOS and runner-up BOS in 2012 for my Dusseldorf Alt and Scottish 80/-. Now I am a co-organizer and judge (non BJCP) for our county fair competition so I don’t enter very much.

Are you an indoor or outdoor brewer?
I was an indoor brewer until all the condensation from boiling on the stove burned out my over-the-stove microwave in 2013. $200 in repairs convinced me it was time to buy that Blichmann burner I had been drooling over and move outside.

Do you have any pets or kids named after beer styles or ingredients?
No, but I do have an awesome brew cat! Meet Zita, my Persian brew assistant. She loves hanging out with me when I brew, and even sits in the water while I’m chilling my wort.

Final thoughts?
A big thanks to my brew club for being so active in helping each other become better brewers, and to everyone on this forum for being so passionate, encouraging, and just plain nice to each other. It’s the only forum on the internet that I can truly enjoy without getting ticked off while reading/posting. I'll leave you with this:

Beer Recipes / Belgian Dark Strong recipe help
« on: April 08, 2014, 08:20:02 AM »
I'm brewing an 18 gallon batch of Belgian Dark Strong for aging in a 15gal whiskey barrel. My main questions would be about specialty grain use. Should I use more/less, different malts? I know simple is usually better, but I just can't seem bring myself to drop anything. Any thoughts, comments, suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

18-E Belgian Dark Strong Ale

Size: 18.0 gal
Efficiency: 65-70.0%
Attenuation: 75-80.0%

OG: 1.103
FG: 1.021
Color: 23.1
Alcohol: 10.9%
IBU: 21.6

50.0 lb Pilsner Malt
15.0 lb Vienna Malt
2.0 lb Caramunich® TYPE I
1.5 lb Aromatic Malt
1.0 lb Special B Malt
0.5 lb Melanoidin Malt
3.0 lb Belgian Candi Syrup - Dark (Dark Candi, Inc)
3.0 lb Belgian Candi Syrup D-180 (
6.0 oz Hallertauer Hersbrucker (4.5%) - added during boil, boiled 60 min
Yeast slurry containing 1/3 each of:
 WYeast 1762 Belgian Abbey II™
 WYeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity
 WYeast 1388 Belgian Strong Ale™

Mash:  90min at 151F.
Boil:  90min.
Cool to 68F, oxygenate and pitch yeast.
Hold at 68 for 3 days. Let temp rise to 72 and hold for 2 weeks.
Cool to 62 (temp of barrel room) and rack into barrel.
Save leftover for topping up, then bottle the rest for comparison w/ barrel aged beer.

Events / Need suggestions for improving County Fair booth
« on: October 17, 2012, 03:21:19 PM »
Our county fair hosts a homebrew competition each year and has a booth during the fair which displays the winning beers and ribbons. It's an okay display but boring, with nothing but bottles of beer and ribbons. Additionally, this year saw a record low number of entries (24) and I have heard a lot of grumblings from local club members about the poor quality of judging and overall lame-ness of the booth. I don't want to see the competition removed from the fair, so I approached the Homebrew competition superintendant and discussed the problem. I made a few suggestions and was promptly made vice-superintendant for next year, in charge of making the booth better.  ;D

I'm actually pretty excited about the opportunity and am looking for suggestions to improve our display and increase participation in the comp. My goals for the display are to promote homebrewing to the community and advertise the two local clubs. I hope to improve the judging as well, as the current judges don't provide much if any feedback and the score sheets they use are terrible. Any ideas would be appreciated. Keep in mind that our booth is 16' x 8', of which half is taken up with the winners display. Here are a few things I am thinking about:

1. Use BCJP score sheets instead of crappy score sheet currently used, and encourage/require judges to provide feedback of some kind (though we don't have any certified judges).
2. Have a display with beer equipment and supplies (grains, hops, etc).
3. Staff the display to answer questions and sign up new members.
4. Possibly have a brewing demonstration one evening.
5. Display board with pictures of our club brewing and/or of the brewing process.

All Things Food / The Boss Bacon Burger
« on: May 15, 2012, 09:59:11 AM »
Weaze, this is for you:

1 burger
500 strips of bacon
109,000 calories  :o

Watch them make this burger on the imbedded YouTube video. 
I think I had a heart attack just watching it.

Pimp My System / Kegerator Build
« on: December 15, 2011, 08:29:02 PM »
Here are some pics from my 5-tap kegerator build.  The kegerator has been operational for a few months, but I just finished designing a logo and had a sign printed. I used a new Kenmore 11.7 cu ft freezer and built a collar as most do.  I decided to go with a new freezer to avoid having potential issues with buying used. Yes, I know many of you have had sucess with used freezers, but I have bad luck with stuff like that. 

The collar is 2"X8" pine with a 1"x10" oak outer sheath.  The outer sheath rises about 1/4" above the inner collar, and hangs down 1.5" below the top of the freezer.  I built the 2x8 part to be exactly the width and length of the freezer so that the outer sheath would fit snugly. 

I cut the collar a little shorter than 2x8 so that the lower screews of the freezer lid hinges would fit into the upper holes on the freezer, with just the upper screws in the collar. I thought the added stability would be worth the lost of ¾” of depth.   

I used Minwax pre-stain wood conditioner, stained it with  Minwax WoodFinish red chestnut, and Minwax Helmsman spar urethane to help prevent rotting from condensation.  Wood was all glued and screwed together, then two more coats of the urethane were applied.  I used a roll of rope caulk between the top of the freezer and the bottom of the collar.

Holes for the faucets were drilled with a drill press.  I am still deciding what to do for tap handles, but it works fine without them for now.  Rbower’s tap handle project with the magnetic labels looks like a pretty good idea, so I may do something like that. 

Anyway, I can fit 6 kegs plus the CO2 tank inside with room for bottles (or a half keg in the future) on the hump.  A 7-way spitter allows me to keep all 6 kegs on tap, plus an extra hose for jumping beer, pushing santizer, filling bottles, etc.  Used Perlick faucets and a Johnson Temp Controller, which is mounted to the wall.  The kegerator sits in my laundry room which is about 10' away from my couch/recliner and TV!

Finished product!!

I designed the logo myself from scratch with Adobe Illustrator (used the free trial).  I took a photo of my own hand and stylized it with the software for the label.  It is printed on vinyl and has a hard plastic backing.  Also had a few 5”x7” stickers made to put on stuff like my truck window, kegs, etc. 

Ingredients / Growing Hops questions
« on: August 26, 2011, 11:50:46 AM »
A few days ago I stumbled into an opportunity to obtain some mature hop plants and have a few questions for those of you who grow your own hops. These plants are decades old, growing up and covering an old homestead barn.   They are extremely healthy and robust looking with lots of cones.  I belive the cones will be ready for harvest in mid-September.  I have not grown hops before, but was planning on starting next spring, so I have done some reading up on the subject. However, everything I can find relates to planting small rhizomes, not mature plants.

So, my main questions are:

1. When would be the best time to dig up and transplant these mature plants? 
2. Are there any suggestions on the best way remove them, transport them, and replant them?


Events / Hard lesson learned
« on: April 14, 2011, 04:12:37 PM »
Well, I just found out that UPS lost my entries for the NHC and they never arrived to the Seattle location for judging!!!  What a monumental bummer.  Apparently the region had 20 entries that never made it, including my three.  I guess the lesson here is to keep an eye on the tracking or use a return receipt to make sure your box arrives.  Hope this didn't happen to anyone else.  :'( :'( :'(

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