Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The 2012 Happening List

Apparently someone out there is actually reading this!

It was quite a pleasant surprise to find out that someone had gone and nominated me for Bucks Happening's 2012 Happening List. This is a comprehensive 'Best Of' type of list for just about everything going on in Bucks County. Hops & Circumstance is nominated in both the 'Blogger' and 'Twitter' categories...because one outlet for my beer-soaked musings just isn't enough. If you want to throw me a bone in either category just take a second to vote in either category, 'Blogger' or 'Twitter'. Voting is open until February 29th.
I know it's annoying when people say that it's an honor just to be nominated but in this case it's true, I really appreciate whoever went out of their way to do that in the first place.

There's also a solid looking 'Beer Bar' category with a few of my favorite hangouts like the Hulmeville Inn and Isaac Newton's so be sure to send some love their way as well.

Thanks for all the support, cheers!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Adventures in Homebrewing: Monastic Misery

You may have noticed a real lack of homebrewing posts here as of late and I'm here to tell you why.
I screwed up my last batch something awful.

Back in August I brewed what I was expecting to be a Belgian Golden Strong Ale for my homebrew club's Monk Melee competition. This was my first crack at the style but I was confident that I had done enough research to put together something that would satisfy my own tastes and hell, maybe even win something at the competition I helped organize. As you may have surmised from the title of this post, that did not happen.

This batch turned out totally undrinkable and a good chunk of the bottles never even carbonated. I gave it plenty of time to condition just hoping that something would come of it but it was all for naught. Unlike many fellow homebrewers, my first batches came out quite well and I even won some competitions with very few brews under my belt. It took me more than a year to concoct this travesty but hopefully I've learned something here. I received my scorecards from the competition judges (who I'd to apologize to for subjecting them to such misery) and they left me plenty of comments, here is the jist:

-scorched malt
-only a little fruitiness
-burnt rubber and cereal
-no carbonation
-a bit hazy and dark for style
-no head
-sour cider vinegar
-not balanced with hop bitterness
-no peppery spice flavors at all
-very sweet like honey
-full body
-acidic and thin
-very problematic
-not to this style at all
-sanitize everything
-pitch plenty of yeast
-this is not a Belgian golden strong

Who the hell knows what happened here? Obviously the batch was dumped down the drain one very sad winter's eve. I'm fairly confident with my sanitation but you can never be sure, I'm thinking that the real problem was with my yeast and fermentation. I was really surprised just how off the appearance was though, I was not expecting this to turn out nearly as dark as it did.
I've finally gotten around to getting another brew together for (hopefully) this weekend and I'll be sure to be much more aware this time around. I figured I would share just how much can go wrong with a well intended brew if you're not careful.

Anyone else have some sad tales to tell with a failed batch out there? I'm sure there are plenty.