Hose Clamp Rings, Geocaching and Road Trips

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road through a green forest

The following is American Homebrewer Association (AHA) Executive Director Julia Herz’s “Director’s Cut” column from the July/August 2024 Zymurgy magazine. Homebrew recipe below!

I recently traveled, toured, brewed, presented, judged, and gained valuable insight from several hundred American Homebrewers Association (AHA) members, craft brewers and homebrew supply shop owners on a whirlwind, multi-state journey. The goal was sharing the value of AHA membership and learning what is on the minds of homebrewers. Where I ended up was determined by two AHA members who each found one of my geocached hose clamp rings (see sidebar). Each member who finds a ring gets a chance to brew with me. Even the following run-on sentence can’t do the trip justice, but I’ll try.

I flew into Detroit, toured Schramm Meadery with meadmaker and author Ken Schramm in Ferndale, Mich., stayed with AHA and Motor City Masher member Laura Higle in Ypsilanti, Mich., judged the ever-competitive and top-of-class Michigan Mead Cup at Brewery Becker in Brighton, Mich., was MC for the awards (stream available on this issue’s online links page at HomebrewersAssociation.org/ja24), presented to MEGA homebrew club at Crooked Ewe Brewery & Ale House in South Bend, Ind. and stayed with AHA and MEGA club members Ross and Holly Filipek in Granger, Ind.

On one fine sunny day of this week-plus trip I got to brew with Andrew Ackers and his wife Mary in Ft. Wayne, Ind. They found one of the rings on the Indiana State Fairgrounds. I’d stashed it while judging the Indy Brewers Cup, organized by AHA Committee member and Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) president Sandy Cockerham. The Ackers chose to brew a Belgian tripel. Andrew elected to add rhubarb, raspberries and blueberries. The rhubarb came from Mary’s grandma’s garden. So special.

Then on to Lafayette, Ind. to visit homebrewing pioneer and engineer extraordinaire John Blichmann. Also while in Lafayette, I presented to Tippy Homebrewers at Lafayette Brewing Company with AHA member Todd Cogswell as my lead contact. Somewhere along the way I stopped into famed retail supplier Great Fermentations in Indianapolis, Ind. A visit to Buckeye BrewCraft in Columbus, Ohio was also a memorable highlight.

Then on to Pennsylvania with a homebrew shop tour of Brew Your Own Beer in Havertown, Pa. I also was invited to present to the Band of Media Brewers (the B.O.M.B.) at Sterling Pig Brewery in Media, Pa. Check out the recording of that presentation on our links page. It was after this visit that I brewed with Adam Ritter. Adam and I connected when he found another one of my geocached hose clamp rings in Denver, Colo. hidden during the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in 2022.

We made a “Philly Sour” saison and split the batch (see recipe). In secondary, Adam added plums to one fermenter and jasmine tea (my contribution) to another. He also had a base beer with no additions. You know how homebrewers like to tinker. We like to figure things out and navigate with a problem-solving mindset. Well, the collaboration brew days with Andrew, Mary, and Adam come to mind as perfect examples. So many gems and bonus learnings from the trip.

Speaking of examples, Adam’s wife Maria shared an incredible loaf of sourdough bread while we brewed, and she was kind enough to give me the recipe. The links page includes a video on how to make the bread. (Note: Adam says the recipe is not adjusted for altitude.)

Want the chance to find one of my hose clamp rings and collaborate on brewing something? Come to Denver, October 10–12 to join us and other AHA members at GABF®.

You can follow me @immaculatefermentation for clues on where and when I’ve stashed a ring. You can also request a virtual or in-person speaker presentation with the link at HomebrewersAssociation.org/ja24.

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