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Messages - markaberrant

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Events / Re: NHC competition site change.
« on: January 29, 2013, 02:59:05 PM »
Based on our growth plans, we were expecting to be at or near 750 entries in Canada this year, and had been preparing as such.

We've had a few US entrants over the years inquire about entering the Canadian Qualifier.  We were open to exploring this idea.

We also proposed promoting the Canadian Qualifier as the "International" site for all international entries.  I don't believe there have been too many historically, but likely could have increased this if folks were made aware.

We also suggested that if say we only accepted 500 entries (2/3 of 750), then only gold and silver winners (2/3) would advance to 2nd round.

Not saying I have all the answers, but these were some ideas put forth.

Events / Re: NHC competition site change.
« on: January 27, 2013, 08:07:31 PM »
A few thoughts:

- Removing Canada and adding another US site will increase pressure on judging the 2nd round.  I thought this was the problem trying to be addressed?

- While I respectfully appreciate this is the AMERICAN Homebrewers Assocation, the ALES Club in Regina has been an NHC 1st round qualifier since 2004 (and there has been a Canadian Qualifier a lot longer than that).  We went through some lean years and some growing pains, but our volunteers have worked very hard over the last 9 qualifiers to build it up, and to promote the AHA in general.  I've personally invested a ton of time and effort over the last 5 years to make our qualifying competition the best competition in Canada, and I would now put it up against any competition ANYHWERE in terms of quality, value, and professionalism.  If you read Zymurgy last year, you'll recall an article where Janis singled us out as a qualifier that is extremely well run and easy to deal with.

- I just finished running a local BJCP course and administered an exam to 14 new judges.  This will complement our current pool of 16 local judges (2 of which are National, with another soon to be National).  This may not seem like much, but find me another city of 200,000 with 30 BJCP judges, and the next closest pool of judges are 7 hours away.  I'm not saying that losing the qualifier hurts this, but it certainly was the reason why we have a concentrated pool of judges.

- I am the only Canadian to medal at the NHC in the last 12 years.  I don't consider myself to be some sort of celebrity, but I am humbled by how many fellow Canadians congratulated me, by how many of them have asked me for recipes and tips, and by how many of them have been inspired to also strive for an NHC medal as a result of my success.

- In Canada, the NHC is very highly respected as a competition, and as an extension, so is our qualifying competition.  I've been in many discussions with fellow Canadian homebrewers where they say that our competition is what seperates the men from the boys, and that winning medals at other competitions don't mean nearly as much.  Qualifying for the 2nd round is a big deal.

- I suppose these changes can mean opportunity for Canada to develop and strengthen our internal competitions.  However, I don't see why it has to be a one or the other proposition, as in fact, we have been seeing steady growth and improvement of the Canadian Qualifier AND other Canadian competitions... in my mind, it goes hand in hand.  Again, I'm not boasting, but in many ways, the ALES Club in Regina has tried to be an example to the rest of Canada as to how to run a succesful club and competition, and we were able to do this in part because we had the NHC Qualifier in our back pocket.

- I know which country I live in, but I felt very proud to be affiliated with the AHA and the NHC, and in many ways it drove me to strive for excellence as a homebrewer, a club president, a competition coordinator, a judge, a judge trainer, and as a competitive brewer.

- It will be interesting how many Canadians enter at all this year.

- I fully respect the AHA, and I can see things from their point of view.  But from the point of view of a 6-year NHC entrant, a 5-year co-ordinator and judge of the Canadian Qualifier, and as a 6-year Canadian AHA member, I can't help but feel like I have been told I am no longer welcome or needed.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Re-use of dry hops
« on: January 08, 2013, 04:25:15 PM »
I tried it once many years ago.  It works, but didn't see the point in bothering again.

Ingredients / Re: To Hop Stand or not to Hop Stand?
« on: January 08, 2013, 04:22:33 PM »
Any thoughts on doing a seperate, smaller volume hop steep (in either wort or pre-boiled water), while continuing on with the standard quick chilling, then adding the steeped liquid to the fermenter?

Have also been reading the new IPA book.  1800s IPA brewers would often add the hops from the hopback back into the primary.  Was thinking about putting late addition hops in a hop bag, then putting hop bag in fermenter as well.  Has anyone tried this (commercial or homebrew), and reported on the results?

Events / Re: Clear plastic tasting cups - cheap!
« on: January 03, 2013, 04:53:02 PM »
We use these at our comps, but the cost in Canada is $45/600 cups.

All Things Food / Re: 2 briskets on the BGE cooking time?
« on: November 09, 2012, 09:52:13 PM »
Yeah, I wasn't insulting anyone or saying their methods don't work.  I'm a big believer in simple approach to things, but as we know in brewing, complicated recipes and simple recipes can win medals.

In my opinion, the BBQ hobby, particularly competition guys, go WAY OFF THE DEEP END.  There is a lot of money on the line, so they are looking to gain whatever advanatage they can, but a lot of it seems to be snake oil.

When it comes to pork, sure you've gotta dress it up a bit.  Marinades, brines, injections, mops, rubs and sauces can really enhance things, though I still don't think you should be doing all of them.  But for me, brisket is all about bringing out the meat flavour and not covering it up.

Again, just my opinion, try things out and see what works for you.  But in my experience, simple is better when it comes to brisket.

All Things Food / Re: 2 briskets on the BGE cooking time?
« on: November 09, 2012, 09:08:26 PM »
Wow, some of you guys are really overthinking your brisket.  I've done them many different ways, and same as brewing, I've found its best to keep things simple.

Dry rub:
2 parts coarse salt (kosher/sea)
1 part coarse black pepper

I use about ½ cup of rub per whole brisket, apply rub just before putting on the smoker.

I buy the biggest briskets I can find, they stay more moist.  They also take longer, but are well worth it.

I cook fat side down on my UDS at 225-250F.  Wrap in foil when internal temp hits 165F.  When internal temp hits 192F, remove from smoker, wrap in old towels and place in small cooler for 2-6 hours until it is time to eat.

I have found that going higher than 192F when wrapped in foil produces meat that is too tender and soft.  There is a lot of heat trapped in there, resulting in a bigger temp increase after you remove it from the smoker.

I budget 1hr/lb using this method on my UDS, but it is usually less.  I've given this "recipe" to some BGE owners who had the same results/cooking times.

I like using mesquite and/or oak with brisket.

The foiling method is critical for most home smokers to keep things nice and moist.  And most guests are blown away when they ask what is in the rub, and I tell them salt and pepper.  I wouldn't cook brisket any other way again.

Ingredients / Re: Belma Hops?!?!?
« on: November 05, 2012, 08:30:08 PM »
It's extremely mild and soft.  Sure it is pleasant, but 1oz in a 4% pale ale contributed virtually zilch.

All Things Food / Re: BBQ Style
« on: October 24, 2012, 10:08:31 PM »
Just ordered a Cookshack Smokette Elite for my parents.  Excellent quality electric smoker, can use chunks for smoke.  Smaller home version of the commercial Fast Eddie Cookshack.  Couple buddies in town have them and are quite happy with the food coming out of these things.

My parents are leaving the country for the next 5 months, so they want me to break in and learn how to use it over the winter... may have to do some side by side cookoffs with my UDS.

Ingredients / Re: Belma Hops?!?!?
« on: October 24, 2012, 10:04:39 PM »
Had a very light pale ale (4%) sitting on an ounce of Belma since last Friday, so 5 days.  Took a sample, fairly disappointing... especially compared to the other kegs I had also just dry hopped (2 other 4% pale ales, 1 with US Goldings, the other with Citra). 

Pretty much duplicated my observations when smelling all 3 packages of hops last week, the Belma was by far the mildest and least interesting.

The Pub / Re: Send Gordon Stronger to Beer Camp
« on: September 21, 2012, 09:08:32 PM »
He might like to go again. Who would not?

Exactly, still stands out as the biggest highlight of my hombrewing endeavours.  UNREAL.

All Things Food / Re: Advice for getting a smoker
« on: September 08, 2012, 02:32:17 AM »
Yep, I hope anyone considering a smoker thinks of all the options available, as well as think about what they actually want to use it for.

As mentioned, charcoal, offsets, various DIY contraptions, and even electric smokers (check out the Cookshack Smokettes) can all make great food.

I'm not a fan of the cheapo smokers, but as already mentioned, there are folks that can make good food on them.  Even my mom has been making great Q on her Electric Brinkman I bought her for xmas 5 years ago for $60.

All Things Food / Re: Advice for getting a smoker
« on: September 07, 2012, 02:25:41 PM »
Lots of DIY options out there (I have an Ugly Drum Smoker, aka UDS), but if looking to purchase commercial, the entry point for a quality smoker is definitely the Weber Smokey Mountain which is a fantastic cooker and reasonably priced.

The WSMs are also quite easy to sell should you decide to move onto the something fancier.  Not that you necessarily need too, lots of competition cooks win with WSM and UDS.

I am perfectly content with my UDS, but my wife thinks it is too ugly (imagine that), so she wants me to get a Big Green Egg next year to replace it and my aging gas grill.

All Things Food / Re: BBQ Style
« on: September 04, 2012, 09:52:32 PM »
I got inspired by all the talk of brine and brined a shoulder in some root beer this weekend.  Tasty.

6 lbs brined with root beer and salt.  15 lbs with dry rub. 

No real flavor from the root beer, but it's damn tasty.  As are the other two shoulders.

We'll be eating pork for awhile.

I've used root beer before in brines, marinades and sauces, never found it really added anything but a bit of generic sweetness, and I was very turned off by the scum that formed when I reduced it down one time.

I don't find that brining adds a whole lot of flavour per se, though my Flanders Red brine definitely adds a unique fruitiness.  I did 3 spatchcocked chickens this weekend, they were damn tasty.

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