I’m a big fan of beer. At first, it was just your typical Miller Lite, Labatt Blue, or Blue Moon that quenched my thirst most nights.
And then I was taught how to home brew. If you want to know more about beer than you ever thought you would ever care to, pick up this hobby. From malt extracts to steeping grains to hops to yeast to carboys and specific gravity, etc etc etc, there is so much to learn!
I’ve been home brewing for about 11 months now. I’ve managed to brew 8 different beers, some better than others, but all in all, I think they’ve turned out pretty successful.
But here’s the problem. Ever since I started home brewing, the mass-produced beers don’t do much for me anymore. Sorry, Anheiser-Busch, but i’d rather drink 1 or 2 micro-brews than a 6-pack of your swill. I’ve developed a specific pallet for strong flavors and your stuff just doesn’t make the cut.
Enter the International Beer Fest that went on this weekend at the IX Center. Micro-brews from all over the world – USA, Belgium, Japan and others – over 800 different beers to try! I was in beer heaven…almost.
My next home brew is going to be a raspberry ale. I can get a kit from a local home brew supply store near here, but as I’m brewing more and more, I have been wanting to mess around with the recipes and make my own. Not anything major, just a little tweak here or there to put the Goffzilla spin on it.
So, I looked up a recipe for a raspberry ale online and was going to supplement the recipe with the kit and make my own mash-up. I printed off my recipe and took it with me to the International Beer Fest hoping that I could speak to some of the local breweries about their processes and get some pointers on which brand of each of the ingredients they use and recommend.
Unfortunately, the breweries that were represented only had volunteers pouring their brews and barely ANY of the them knew anything about the brews they were actually pouring – or about beer at all. I can’t tell you how many times I went up to the table and said, “tell me about the beer you have here” and their response was, “I have no idea – this one is a _____ beer, and this one is a ____ beer.” Ugh. I can read the labels on the bottles, people.
The whole point in me going was yes, to taste some beer, but also to speak to the brewers, find out how they got started, find out what ingredients they really liked brewing with and to get some ideas on what my next brews should be.
But, basically, this event was just a giant tasting. $40 bucks for 30 tasting tickets to try any beer I wanted. They were supposed to be 2 oz pours, but, the little tasting glass I was given could hold about 5, and I usually got about 4 oz per tasting. I appreciated the extra so that I could get an initial taste and then take another swig for the aftertaste.
They did have a stage set up for what they called Brew U, where they would talk about different processes that go into brewing. I grabbed a packet of information on hops, which was actually very informative. There was another presentation later in they day all on the “tastes in beer” that was going to speak about all of the different ingredients that can be put in beer and what they do to the overall taste. It sounded really interesting, but Christine couldn’t stay that long and she was my DD, so, I didn’t get to go to that one.
I was also hoping more home brewing stores would have booths that I could go and talk to them about different ingredients, but, nope. There was only 1 that I saw, and they were just opening in Mentor. Yeah, not gonna make that trip guys, sorry. Not when I have one of the top home brewing stores in Ohio about 20 minutes from my house, and another up and coming right in Kent.
I did spend some time in the “Ohio” aisle of breweries and got to talk to the head guy over at Lagerheads in Medina. They just got distribution on their brews and business is really picking up for them. The guy I talked to was really cool and I spoke with him about how much I’ve loved home brewing and he was really pushing me to start using full-grain recipes and experimenting. I definitely want to get there at some point, but, the equipment isn’t cheap and the chance I’ll mess up is very high.
I thanked him for the information and tried their “Barnburner Lager” and went on my way. I also wanted to go back to their booth later and try their “Bedhead Red” and their barley wine, but, I never made it back. Bummer. I guess I’ll have to go try their award-winning BBQ and get a pint or two then. 🙂
All in all, the event was fun in the fact that I now have a list of about a half dozen beers that I really enjoyed and am going to purchase in the future, I got some good information on hops, and, well, I got to drink beer for about 2 hours straight.
This WAS the first year for the International Beer Fest, so I hope next year they add more resources for the home brewers that attend.
Anyone else end up going out there? What were your thoughts?