I have a busy, homebrew-filled weekend coming up, and it's starting early too; on Thursday instead of Friday.
If any of my readers are homebrewers local to the Puget Sound area, you may already know that this weekend is the judging for the 2011 Puget Sound Pro-Am Competition. This is a Great American Beer Festival (GABF) qualifying event, with the ultimate goal being to win a Gold Medal from the GABF Pro-Am competition. If you haven't gotten your entries in, tomorrow (April 26th) is the absolute last day (extended deadline).
In addition, at least fifteen (15) breweries will be selecting their favorite hoembrews from the best of show competition round at the GABF to scale up and brew on their own systems. This is a shot at homebrew glory, if you are skilled enough and lucky enough to have your entry selected for either a medal or to be brewed on one of the 'big guys' systems.
Thursday - April 28th:
Homebrew competitions take a lot of organization. With entries flooding in from all over, it's extremely important to keep track of everything and make sure no entries get mixed up. The last thing you want is to award a medal to someone for a beer they didn't brew and submit (how embarrassing!)
In preparation for the judging that will take place on Friday and Saturday (At Larry's Warehouse Brewing Supply in Kent, WA), I will be heading down to Larry's on Thursday evening to help sort the entries and get them ready for Friday and Saturday. Having all the entries properly sorted, numbered and placed together into their categories makes things go much more smoothly and efficiently during the judging.
Friday - April 29th:
The main judging is on Saturday, but the early judging gets under way at Larry's on Friday evening. I've signed up to judge for both Friday and Saturday, so I need to spend some time this week 'practicing' a bit by trying a few new beers and writing up some beer judging score sheets. This will help me hone my skills a bit, as this will be only the second competition event I've ever judged at.
As many of you know, I'm in the early stages of preparing for my BJCP Certification exam. The earliest I may be able to take the exam is this November. Of course, that test is already full so, barring enough drop-outs, I'll have to head down to Portland to take my exam sometime next February (2012).
In addition to a passing score on the exam, however, being fully certified requires at least 5 experience points. By participating in judging events, I'm starting to earn those experience points. I hope to have all 5 necessary points by the time I take the exam so that, when I pass, I will a fully certified judge. Those who pass the exam but do not yet have the necessary 5 experience points are classified as 'recognized' but not yet certified.
Saturday - April 30th:
On Saturday, it's back to Larry's for more judging. There should be both a morning and an afternoon judging session. I will stay to help with both if it's needed, but if there are enough judges to cover everything, I may only attend the morning session. As I pointed out, I have a very busy weekend. I still need to find time to keg my batch of Chamomile Ale and to brew a batch of Imperial IPA.
Another project I've been involved with is the new Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery. I was an early adopter for the coop (there were 9 original members who started the coop - I'm member #12), and things are just about to get rolling with committees forming and the first event(s) for members to meet and celebrate the launch.
The Flying Bike membership drive started on Monday, April 11th. The goal was to have the 300 'founding' members by the end of June. Well, things just blew up and the 300-member mark was reached sometime on Friday, April 15th; and the memberships continue to roll in. I'm hoping to find some time on Saturday evening to meet with Jeff Hicks and some other members of the Flying Bike Board to discuss the website and forums, the committees we need to form and other important coop business.
Sunday - May 1st:
Those of you who have been following my brewing know that I have a batch of Chamomile Ale that's been in the fermenters since it was brewed on April 9th. Today is the day to get it out of the fermenters and move it into kegs where it can start to carbonate and condition. I plan to let this ale condition in the kegs for just under four weeks before giving it a try (I need to bottle a bit for my next homebrew club meeting, since it will be our club 'swap meet' and I want to be able to share some of this ale).
Also on the agenda for today is brewing a batch of Imperial IPA. This will be only a 5-gallon batch, since I've decided to drop down to brewing only 5-gallon batches for a while in order to increase the variety of homebrew I can have available to chose from at any one time.
A week later, I plan to brew an Oktoberfest lager, so it can be ready by mid-September (the proper time for Oktoberfest beer). For those who don't know, despite how many U.S. establishments do things, Oktoberfest does not start on October 1st. It starts in mid-September and ends the first week in October. Of course, that doesn't mean many people, myself included, don't enjoy drinking a good Oktoberfest beer well into and even past October. ;)
On top of all this, I really need to find some time to start studying the BJCP style guidelines. With 28 styles (each with multiple sub-styles), I really need to start memorizing so I can be ready for the exam in November or February. I'm also signed up for a BJCP Exam study class that kicks off in August.
Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.