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Messages - dkfick

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Events / Re: 2014 NHC Grand Rapids Review
« on: June 17, 2014, 06:59:07 AM »
Oh for sure there was not cheating or anything like that.  It was a fair win.  I just don't agree with the rules as they stand.  I think it just takes some of the fun out of the award.  I could see the other really big clubs also winning it over and over... but at least you kind of know what you're up against vs some big virtual monster that can have all sorts of random amounts of people entering. 

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Russian beer factories
« on: June 17, 2014, 06:54:11 AM »
You need to use the IMG tags like this:
Code: [Select]

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: 2014 NHC Seminars
« on: June 17, 2014, 06:51:53 AM »
I would say it's usually about a month after the conference if I remember correctly.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Cool rehydrated yeast prior to pitching?
« on: June 17, 2014, 06:50:09 AM »
The instructions used to say (not able to look now) to cool it down by slowly mixing in some of the wort with it before pitching. Kara Taylor from White Labs mentioned during her yeast talk that it's critical to get the yeast within 10F of the wort prior to pitching.  Obviously that was for liquid yeast but I would apply the same logic... I am often guilty of being impatient and just pitching the warm rehydrated yeast.  I will be making an effort to add a few spoonfuls of wort to it next time to see if it makes a difference.

Events / Re: 2014 NHC Grand Rapids Review
« on: June 17, 2014, 06:45:26 AM »
I'm firmly in the 'not a club' camp.  I would be fine if they changed the name to local club of the year and eliminated all these larger national/international entities.  Sure let people enter beers under them if they want but they really shouldn't be allowed to compete for the club of the year.  To me it just ruins the spirit of the award.  I would say the BN winning it every year is the black mark.

Equipment and Software / Re: New Equipment at NHC
« on: June 17, 2014, 06:05:12 AM »
There was a small 1 gallon counter top draft system, called SYNEK, that used like 1 gallon mylar bags to keep the beer in.  They are starting a Kickstarter in the next couple days.

Another new item was a smaller Brewhemoth that was unveiled.  It was basically the same as the normal one except more in the 14 gallon range.

The SS Brew Tech stuff has been around for quite some time (though I admit I like their small conical). 

The Clear Draught System has been around for awhile as well.

National Chemicals had a new cleaner that came in tabs and was meant to be dropped into a 1/2 to 1 gallon growler and left to sit to clean it.  I got a sample but have not tried it out.

Not really new but I never saw it before O'Connors Homebrew Supply has a large pitch of a 'West Michigan Ale Yeast'.  I picked up a vial to give it a whirl.

There were these 'TurboPots' that had finned bottoms and were suppose more efficiently use the heat from your burner and heat quicker.  Looked pretty interesting.

Equipment and Software / Re: Conical Review
« on: June 16, 2014, 03:10:48 PM »
I think maybe you just need a little more practice with getting the yeast/trub out of the dump valve.  Once you get the hang of it there is very little waste.  Or like Martin said... You don't really need to dump it at all.  I usually do do a trub dump and harvest my yeast (to repitch). But you certainly don't need to. 

As for the clogging that may occur at the dump valve.  This is usually if you let the yeast sit too long.  It can get quite compact.  It will eventually... um... 'poop' out though. lol.  For the racking arm I ferment with it facing down and then when transferring always start with it in the 'up' position and just slowly turn it down while watching to make sure there is no yeast pick up... Then once I get even the slightest bit of yeast I either stop there or slightly back off (back to up).  I've never had my racking arm clog before.

I don't have the exact same conical as you (mine is their 14.5 gallon) but the lid gasket is not very intuitive as to which way is up and which way is down on it ;-).  I fermented my first few batches with the gasket in upside down... Maybe try flipping it and see if it seals easier/better.

Yes not being able to see through it can be a bit of a pain at times... When are we going to get that Star Trek 'Transparent Aluminum'?  Though I guess we'd want Transparent Stainless Steel.

Events / Re: Was the Philly BNA really that bad?
« on: June 16, 2014, 02:14:57 PM »
That glass they gave us was pretty huge too... Maybe I'm crazy but I would have preferred a smaller glass.  I know it seems counter intuitive but I don't want to drink that much when I am going around sampling beers.  It just means I can't enjoy as many samples to me.

If you're talking about the official conference glass, Dan, there is a line on it to mark 2 oz.  I didn't have any problem getting it only filled to that line.
Na I was talking about the Brewing Network Party glass.  It had to be able to hold at least 12oz and I was getting some 75% pours... even when I would be like 'just a splash'. lol

Events / Re: 2014 NHC Grand Rapids Review
« on: June 16, 2014, 11:02:35 AM »
Since others brought it up, the judging assignments was kinda crap.
1 - no labels - thanks for nothing - it's very minor, I brought my own, but if you can print out a sheet you can make labels.
2 - long line for judge registration - seemed completely silly. They had to mark your name off a sheet, I can mark my own name off a sheet. I skipped the line and turned in my sheet. If I passed you, I'm not sorry, I see no reason to wait in a long line when I printed my sheet ahead of time.
3 - I recruited a judge from another table so we could make four pairs. Seems odd I would have to do that. The other table had something like 12 judges and we had 7. It wasn't a big deal, but had it not happened we would have slowed in our entry judging.
4 - I heard some group of judges sent 4 beers to the mini-BOS. Really? Can you not decide on the best three beers from your flight? Are you all first time judges? (If this was you, yes I am calling you out.)
5 - I heard one group took HOURS to judge their flight. That is ridiculous. If you had two judges and 36 beers you should finish in 360 minutes. 4 judges 180 minutes, 6 judges 90 minutes, etc. (If this was you, yes I am calling you out. Speed up or let everyone know you probably should not be judging because the pyramids were built in less time.) [If I've missed some critical fact let me know, but to start judging at 9am and not finish till 1:30+ seems to indicate a problem with the judge panel.]

1 - our stewards were awesome
2 - 2nd beers from the cellar were retrieved very, very quickly
3 - plenty of cups, sheets, etc - again, our stewards were awesome
4 - no egos at our table - well, except mine
5 - our stewards were awesome ;)
I did forget about the lack of labels.. It was only a minor annoyance for me.  I didn't bring any but I just pre filled out my sheets while waiting for judge assignments.

Yeah I stood in the line for a bit but then Dan came up and down the line and was grabbing the sheets from everyone... What he did fail to do after he did this was let us know we didn't need to stand in line anymore... So I proceeded to continue to stand in line lol.  A few people told me they heard it announced you didn't need to stand in line if you had the sheet.  I didn't hear it.

I didn't stick around to see anything else going on.  I didn't even talk to other tables while I was up there.  I basically just hammered out out flight and jetted.. Didn't even do mini-BOS so I can't comment on anything else. I finished right when the expo was opening and figured I would just head down there ;-)

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: 2014 NHC broadcast???
« on: June 16, 2014, 10:54:55 AM »
Yeah sadly I went 0/3 this year.  Hopefully I can muster up some medal(s) next year. 

I did have 2 golds and a bronze in the first round this year at least.  Hopefully some people got to drink some of my medal beers during club night.  I had my Xmas beer (1st) on with CRAFT and my Tripel (3rd) on with Sons of Liberty (though I had it slated for the social well after Club Night in the lobby.)

Events / Re: 2014 NHC Grand Rapids Review
« on: June 16, 2014, 09:53:10 AM »
Fantastic conference overall. GR is a picturesque city that is very clean and beautifully renovated. The local folks seem friendly and courteous. The host hotel was amazing and from what I heard the overflow hotels were great as well. The DuVos center was very accommodating with spacious meeting rooms and timely service, although I'll also vouch for the poor audio during the welcome reception and banquet night.

The seminars that I attended were informative and interesting. I really haven't heard any complaints. I attended 6 seminars that were all worthwhile.

I judged the National competition that went rather smoothly. The judging environment was very comfortable and the competition seemed very organized and flowed well. There were plenty of experienced judges on hand to accommodate the number of entries. Very relaxed atmosphere and a well executed competition.

The welcome reception was fun but I would like to see more brewery representation and better signage. I did get to meet one brewer.

Banquet night was a lot of fun. The food was awesome, the beer was good and the comradery was second to none. The audio was poor at best.

All in all the conference was a huge success. Hats off to the AHA staff and the local committee!
Good point on the judging.  It went really smoothly I felt.  Only slight hiccup was they issues they had with the software where many judges were unassigned at the start and had to get manual assignments... Thankfully I didn't fall in to that category.  So for me apart from a slight delay at the start of judging it was all smooth sailing.  The sour ales I judged were all quite nice too.  I think I gave 3/8-9 40+

Events / Re: Was the Philly BNA really that bad?
« on: June 16, 2014, 09:26:59 AM »
I did not see any duplicates and each station seemed to have 4 or so taps and there were two jockey boxes on the infield. Just thinking back that's about 8 or 9 stations or 32-40 beers. Maybe you missed the Beet Saison from Right Brain or the stellar brown from Saugatuck. Perrin's Grapefruit IPA was pouring, The Livery had a beer, Mitten had an IPA, Dark Hourse, I know Bell's and Founders were around. I suspect you saw the Centennial IPA and didn't peel the onion after being disappointed by the VIP section. I went in expecting it to be crap like Philly and my first impression as we walked in on the deck was it was going to be until I realized there were tap stations everywhere and the food was gratis. With plenty of room, zero smoking, tons of food, I was never without beer in my glass. Granted it might have been Bell's Third Coast, but that was just fine with me. ;)
It's possible I missed some stations.  I only remember about 6-7 including the VIP station.  I'm glad that you enjoyed those beers you listed. 
I really think much of my disappointment was just the VIP area and the fact that I have had all of those beers multiple times and can pretty much get them at will.  Not beers I want to be drinking during the non-stop drinking 'long weekend'.  I opted to save my 'beer bullets'.  Now in a 'normal' situation I would gladly drink one of them.  So I guess my disappointment is really a split on the VIP and my own hang ups (the the other 3 in my party were all in agreement.)

That glass they gave us was pretty huge too... Maybe I'm crazy but I would have preferred a smaller glass.  I know it seems counter intuitive but I don't want to drink that much when I am going around sampling beers.  It just means I can't enjoy as many samples to me.

Events / Re: 2014 NHC Grand Rapids Review
« on: June 16, 2014, 08:55:04 AM »
Oh?  They were suppose to be in the salad? I guess I just wasn't sure what to do with them...and nobody else at the table could figure it out either. So I just grabbed one and bit into it like an apple.

Events / Re: 2014 NHC Grand Rapids Review
« on: June 16, 2014, 08:50:41 AM »
I understand the need to make the change from Pro Night to the Welcome Reception. (I have seen Pro Night devolve into a frat party with obnoxious and disrespectful behavior towards the folks pouring.) So it was a good idea in theory. Unfortunately the execution was flawed. First, there needed to be overhead signage. The map is not helpful in a large room with few landmarks to help you get your bearings.  Two, if brewery reps are not allowed to pour,  the staff should at least be provided with sell sheets to be able to answer basic questions.

The food at the Welcome Reception was far superior and more plentiful than that served at any previous such NHC event (banquet excluded, of course). However, we do have a rather large part of the population than do not understand the difference between an appetizer spread and Golden Corral all you can eat. I saw too many folks with plates piled so high that of course there was not enough to go around. It wasn't supposed to be your dinner, pal.
Acoustics were a big issue for that event and for the banquet. Large venues with hard surfaces are a challenge. But it can be balanced, and echoing and boom can be minimized.
But otherwise, the NHC in Grand Rapids was a wonderful event. The conference center staff was amazingly helpful and friendly. The town really rolled out the red carpet for us!
And Sean Paxton knocked it out the ball park with that banquet.
Oh and the Local Committee was awesome. (Of course, I am a bit biased  :D ! )

The banquet dinner made up for last year. A few I know went out for some food before the banquet, much to their dismay when a large fraction of a pig was on their plates. German food! Loved it.
Yes, the food was excellent... Well all of it except that plate of radishes on the table... they seemed odd and out of place.  I noticed almost every table at the end looked like 0 radishes were eaten... Maybe he said when we was up there talking but I made out 0 of what was said.  Regardless the salad (and I'm not a salad person), main meal, and dessert were fantastic.  I was stuffed.
Mike Barbalis and I dove into the radishes. They go great with Obatzda, pretzels and beer. In fact you can get a large spiral cut white radish to go along with the order of Bretzlen und Obatzda in the Munich biergartens.
I bit into one towards the end of the awards because nobody at the table touched them... Regret. lol.

I also thought of another thing I didn't like too much about the banquet... The beers.. Boston Lager was the highlight as far as beers go during the meal...

Events / Re: Was the Philly BNA really that bad?
« on: June 16, 2014, 08:48:27 AM »
I heard several VIP people say it was not worth the extra coin. Remove the VIP from your ticket and how was it then? I had beers well up until last call, granted I can get some of them in NC, but there was plenty of variety IMO.
Yeah I was trying to decide that, but couldn't remember the ticket costs.  The variety of beer was just really low seeming to me.  There were def some beers that were still around at 10 when we were leaving but a lot were gone.  I  would certainly have been 'ok' with the party if I had not purchased the VIP ticket.. but not sure I would say it was 'good'.  Whereas with the VIP ticket I would say it was 'disappointing'.

To me the number of beers just seemed to be much less than previous years.  Maybe there were more beers there than I recall.  I know they had beers like Bell's 2 Hearted and stuff.  I can get than even in a dive bar around here and it's an excellent beer, but I realize that some people cannot and it was great for them to be able to try it.  In my mental headcount I could have totally dismissed beers like that.  The ones I literally see in every single bar. It's entirely possible lol.  I would have liked to have seen a list of the beers.  I wasn't there to get totally smashed so the easy to get beers for me were automatic passes in my mind...

I have no idea if that rambling about makes sense... lol

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