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The 2014 Maryland Microbrewery Festival and Homebrew Competition will be held on Saturday, September 27.  The site of the event is the beautiful and historic Union Mills Homestead just north of Westminster, Maryland.

The 2014 Competition Registration site is now OPEN for Judge registration:  Please sign up early if you are interested in Judging.  We welcome Provisional Judges who have passed the online Entry Exam and are looking for judging experience prior to sitting for the BJCP Tasting Exam, as well as Novice Judges who are studying and practicing for the Entry Exam.

Last year's competition featured 200 entries.  Judging takes place indoors, in the historic Mill on the Union Mills Homestead grounds.  The competition is open to all beer categories with the exception of Sours.  We anticipate a full day of judging, with morning and afternoon sessions unless enough Judges sign up to do all entries in the morning.  The winning homebrewer's recipe is scaled up and brewed commercially (with the winner's help, of course!) by Dog Brewing Company of Westminster, MD for draft sales at Buffalo Wild Wings' restaurants throughout Maryland, and (at the option of Dog Brewing Co.) bottled sales in area liquor stores.  The winner will also qualify for the Pro-Am Competition at the GABF (also at the option of Dog Brewing Co.)

In addition to getting Judging Points and giving back to the homebrewing community, Judges will receive the following perks:

  • Judges receive free admission to the Festival, and a tasting mug.
  • The organizing club will host a complimentary Judges Thank-You Dinner the evening before the festival, on Friday, September 26 at Johansson's, our local brewpub.
  • Complimentary Friday night accommodations for out-of-area Judges may also be available on request from host club members...could be a spare room, or a fully-outfitted camper...please respond here or via PM if you are interested in taking advantage of this option.
  • Judges will receive what is widely considered to be the best Judges' Breakfast in the world (or at least in Maryland ;D), prepared by our club's fine cooks.  For those with more basic requirements, yes we'll also have bagels and cream cheese.
  • Judges' and Stewards' Lunch is sponsored and provided by Buffalo Wild Wings.

Cheers, please post back or PM with any questions.

Questions about the forum? / Forum Errors This Evening
« on: June 03, 2014, 05:51:21 PM »
Going to the Forum this evening, I found that I was already logged in (recently, I have had to log in each visit).

When I try to mark a board as Read, I get the following error:

Session verification failed. Please try logging out and back in again, and then try again.

If click the Logout link, I get the same error.

Edit:  Well, never mind.  After posting this message, these functions seem to work properly again.

The 6th annual Maryland Microbrewery Festival Homebrew Competition will be judged on the grounds of Union Mills Homestead (just north of Westminster, MD) during the 2013 Maryland Microbrewery Festival on Saturday, September 28.

All beer styles are welcome, except Sours.

Best of Show winner is scaled up and brewed for commercial sale (with the help of the winning homebrewer, of course) by Dog Brewing Company of Westminster, MD (the winner of the 2011 and 2012 Maryland Governor's Cup).  The winning beer is served state-wide on draft at Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants, and in past years has also been bottled for sales in area liquor stores.

Entries are welcome world-wide and will be BJCP-judged.  However, to be prize-eligible, entrants must either be Maryland residents, or a member of one of the Free State Homebrew Guild member clubs.  (Check out the Rules, another $4 will get you a local club membership if you're out of state ;D).

Rules and Registration here:


Classifieds / Club Night 2013 Commemorative T-Shirts Still Available
« on: June 30, 2013, 06:01:06 PM »
Our club produced a special edition commemorative t-shirt for Club Night 2013.  It features the original art work of our member artist Melinda Byrd on the front of the shirt, and the names of all Club Night clubs on the back, listed by State (at least, I think we got all clubs...just don't look too closely at the state alphabetization  :o ).  Our club's theme was Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven.  We hope our booth and our beers were enjoyed by all.

If you didn't pick up a shirt from us at Club Night, this is your chance.  Upon request, the artist will also sign your shirt in permanent marker.

The front and back of the shirt are shown below.  The shirts are deep purple.  The front image below is the proof from our vendor, which is a little more blue than the actual shirt color.  Sizes available as of this writing are unisex Small thru 4XL.  Shirts are $25 each which includes shipping and PayPal fees (or $20 for local hand-off for cash).  100% cotton Gildan brand.

If you want a shirt, please send me a Private Message with the quantity and sizes you would like.  Include your email address, and we will send you a PayPal Invoice for whichever of your size and quantity selections are still available.  Shirts will ship promptly upon receipt of payment.

and this actual photo of the shirt back

Thanks, and Cheers!

Classifieds / 1 NHC Awards Banquet Ticket Available
« on: May 16, 2013, 11:11:43 AM »
We will not be using the two banquet tickets I purchased, so they are now available.  I wish to sell them at cost ($50 each).  I'll assume the PayPal fees.

Would prefer to sell both at once, but I'll also sell them individually.

Please send a Private Message if you're interested.


Wood/Casks / Barrel Stand
« on: January 08, 2013, 05:55:45 PM »
A good friend and club member built this nice stand for my Woodinville Whiskey Co. barrels, purchased through our club's recent group buy.  I have one more barrel coming from the next batch of barrels after the bourbon is dumped in another week or so.  The barrels on the bottom shelf still need wedges to cradle them.

Events / Clear plastic tasting cups - cheap!
« on: January 02, 2013, 09:37:07 PM »
Just received a carton of these clear plastic tasting cups, for use at an upcoming beer tasting class.  They are 5 oz. Dixie brand cups, crystal clear, no odor, perfect for tasting and competition-sized pours, and they cost only $45 for 1,000 cups.  I can only say, I'll be buying these for my competition and beer classes for as long as they sell them.

Here's the actual cup with a sample (contents are Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale)...


Pimp My System / Contained heating space for conical fermenter
« on: August 20, 2012, 03:15:58 PM »
Just threw this together to help keep the temperature up (85° and higher) for a new Saison with WLP565 yeast.  It's comprised of two collapsible "pop-up" trash/yard waste cans (found @ Target), a space heater, and a Ranco digital controller:

The bottom "can" is narrower (19" dia.) than the top one, but the legs of the conical just fit.  The top can lowers down over the whole thing.  It's 22" in diameter.  The space heater sits on the floor, plugged into a Ranco controller.  Thermowell for the Ranco sensor inserts in a hold drilled in the top of a Plexiglas lid I made for the conical.  Visit the photobucket Album to see a couple other shots:

Instead of an airlock, I have a blowoff hose that feeds through the gap between the top and bottom cans, and into a bucket.

Spousal Unit made some distressed noise about the risk of fire, which I countered with some Male Pattern Deafness.  I had thought about it, though.  The space heater is plastic, so how hot can it really get anyway?  Plus it doesn't touch anything.  Heat and fan are set to mid-range settings.  It has a shut-off if it tips over.  And if something went FUBAR and overheated, the excess heat can get out through the substantial gap between the top and bottom trash cans.  The top can still contains the heat around the conical, and increased the wort temp from pitching (82°) to 85 in about two hours.

Kegging and Bottling / User review: vinyl reuseable labels
« on: August 09, 2012, 08:39:13 PM »
We ran into GrogTag at the NHC in Seattle.  They had a nice display and gave out samples.  They produce custom designed vinyl peel-off beer & wine bottle and ngeck abels which are reuseable, and write-able on with eraseable crayons.  Their stock designs are a little limited, but the info is customizable and you can upload custom graphics on most of them.  Or upload your own complete label design.

My favorite label is the blank with spaces for beer name/batch, dates, gravities, and moving dates.  Because they are waterproof, reuseable, and eraseable with Crayola eraseable crayons, I use these to follow my beers from primary, to secondary, to kegs, updating the info with each move.  Then wipe clean and re-use.

I have ordered twice now.  Service is very prompt.  Production quality exceeds my expectations.  Depending on the label template and the graphic you want to upload, you might have to play with the size of the upload file to make it display the way you like.

They also have an affiliate program for clubs, 10% discount when purchased through your link, and 1o% rebate to your club.  Check out the link on our club's home page in my signature.

The 5th annual Maryland Microbrewery Festival Homebrew Competition will be conducted on Saturday, September 29, 2012 at Union Mills Homestead, just north of Westminster.  Registration is now open for entrants, judges and stewards.  Entries must be received in the 2-week window between Sept. 1 - Sept. 15.  Open to big beers 6-10 abv, all except Sour and Smoke-flavored beers.

BJCP sanctioned and judged.  Excellent prize Sponsors including local and online HBS, liquor stores, and beer-focused restaurants.  And Best of Show winner's beer gets brewed commercially by Dog Brewing  Co. for draft sales at Maryland Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants, and bottled sales through local liquor stores.

Entrants, Judges, and Stewards should Register:


Steve Kranz

Wood/Casks / Woodinville Whiskey Co. barrel
« on: June 03, 2012, 10:24:34 PM »
I ordered one of their 8 gallon once-used bourbon barrels. $183 including $38 shipping to Maryland.  Yikes, our club got a 53 gallon barrel thru our local micro a couple years ago for about $120.  But no one was ready to coordinate that kind of project again quite yet, so this barrel's all on me.

It arrived in one piece in spite of the barrel just being placed bare naked in an ordinary shipping box, i.e. no other packing materials, bubble wrap, etc. to protect it.  Kind of surprising.

I fashioned a rough cradle from two short pieces of 2x4 lumber and 4 triangle wedges cut from the same 2x4s.  Not knowing whether to expect leaks, the cradle & barrel are set up inside the pan from a rabbit cage.  But it has not leaked.

The barrel came with a little card that suggests rinsing and something else, maybe a sulfur stick.  Nah...I had a batch of fully fermented, hi-test Biere de Garde that was ready to go.  Our experience from our last barrel, and the advice from our micro brewer, said to just put the beer in as-is.  So after prying the wooden stopper out, I first flushed the barrel with CO2 to purge it of air (omg the aromas!), then into the barrel my Biere went.

I topped it off and stuck an airlock on it, and will start sampling in another week or so.  Happily, I have about a gallon of the original Biere to use for keeping the barrel topped off if my sampling gets a little heavy-handed.  8)


As a competition organizer, I tend to track the AHA's rules for the NHC, which includes a limit of one entry per brewer per subcategory.  The question has been asked of me why that limit is in place, and frankly I'm not able to come up with great-sounding answers.

I suppose the limit is in place to either somehow discourage cheating, or to discourage one brewer from monopolizing the category prizes, or...I dunno.  We could include a rule that says the *same* beer may only be entered once in a given subcategory.

If a brewer has two different Dry Stouts, or two different Wood Aged Beers, or even two different Fruit Beers using the same base beer but different fruits, or whatever else, it seems to me that he or she should be able to enter both of them in the same correct subcategory, rather than having to pick only one to enter.

I'm thinking of allowing brewers to enter as many beers in whatever subcategories they want, and if anyone has experience with any problems this has caused in the past, I would appreciate any feedback.

Thanks in advance.

Entry Period is September 1 - 15.

Judging will take place during the festival, September 29, on the grounds of historic Union Mills Homestead in Westminster, MD.  Winning brewer's recipe is brewed commercially by Dog Brewing Company for bottled sales and exclusive draught sales at Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants throughout Maryland.

Categories: Big Beers 6-10% a.b.v., judged against BJCP 2008 Style Guidelines.

- No smoked beers or sour beers, please
- Maryland resident brewers, or
- Member of a Maryland-based club

Most current info:

No ad here, just a crazy happy user of Splashtop Remote Desktop.  You install the Splashtop Streamer program on your Mac or PC computer, and the appropriate app (iOS, Android, webOS, Mac/Windows, Kindle Fire, Nook, BB Playbook...) on your phone or tablet that is WiFi enabled.  The Streamer running on your desktop will give your mobile device full access to your entire desktop.  It's very cool and works great.

You do not have to be directly connected to the same network, either.  On my HP webOS TouchPad and a WiFi connection anywhere, including the WiFi Hotspot app on my phone, my TouchPad finds my dssktop by registering thru Google.  Then I'm off, running SUDS directly, with full control, on the TouchPad from my deck, or a buddy's house miles away.

Classifieds / GABF Saturday tix (4 members only, 2 evening) available
« on: August 30, 2011, 08:37:46 PM »
We bought the subject tickets before we knew we'd be attending on brewery passes.  Face value plus AHA fees, PayPal fees and Priority Mail cost.  Basically, my cost.  Tix are not in hand yet, but will ship to you as soon as they arrive from AHA.  

If interested, please reply via Private Message with which tix you want.  PayPal only.  Preference given to whoever first offers to buy all six tickets.  Will figure out the math when they are all committed.  


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