Last night my wife, Lynn, and I went down to Larry's Brewing Supply in Kent to help sort and categorize entries for the Puget Sound Pro-Am homebrew competition. We had approximately 1,800 bottles to sort and label in preparation for the judging, which will take place tonight and Saturday.
Each entrant sends three bottles to the competition. The bottles must be separated from the paperwork they are submitted with (entry form, recipe sheet & entry fee), and labeled with stickers containing numbers and the style category the beer has been entered into. This is done to ensure the anonymity of the entrants, so there can be no perception or possibility of judges showing any type of favoritism. No judge ever know who's beer he's evaluating; only the style category the beer was entered into.
We had a decent sized group of peple helping out, but the task of sorting and labeling all the entries took several hours. Things got rolling at around 5:30/6:00, and we finally finished and left for the evening at about 10:00PM. It also took me a while to get to bed after getting home so, yes, I'm kind of tired today.
So now it's Friday; day two. Today I have to run over to Mountain Homebrew & Wine Supply in Kent. I'm brewing a batch of Imperial IPA on Sunday, and I need a strain of yeast sold by White Labs. For reasons I can't fully understand, Mountain Homebrew is the only homebrew supply shop in the Seattle area that carries both Wyeast and White Labs brands of yeast. All the other homebrew shops around here only carry Wyeast.
There is a conversion chart, showing which Wyeast yeasts are suitable 'substitutes' for White Labs yeasts, but they are just that, substitutes. In most cases, you're not really getting the very same yeast strain, and I can be somewhat particular about my yeast at times.
The yeast I would like to use for my Imperial IPA is White Labs' WLP001 - California Ale Yeast. The Wyeast 'substitute' for WLP001 is their #1056 - American Ale Yeast. I've used Wyeast #1056 a number of times. It's a good yeast, don't get me wrong. It just provides a slightly different flavor profile and attenuation (defines how far the yeast will ferment out before 'pooping out') than I'm looking for. So, because I'm picky about these types of things, I need to make a trip over to Kirkland on my way home to get that yeast.
I'll probably also pick up my hops there too, or at least as many as I can for this batch. I need a lot of hops for this Imperial IPA, and I prefer to use whole leaf hops rather than pellets. They just work better with my system than pellet hops. This way, if Mountain Homebrew doesn't have all the hops I need in leaf form, I'll just get what I can there and get the rest at Larry's Brewing Supply when I get there this evening.
I need to be back at Larry's Brewing Supply tonight by 5:30, when the first round of judging for the Pro-Am gets under way. That leaves me little time after work to get to Kirkland for my yeast, get home briefly and then down to Larry's, so I can't dilly dally. Tonight is just the first round of judging, but I wanted to participate in both days of judging because I could use the experience.
Tomorrow, Saturday, I'll be back at Larry's Brewing Supply yet again by 8:30AM to judge the morning round of the competition. I'll make sure I print up a bunch of BJCP Beer Scoresheets today and pre-fill out my information on each, so I don't have to worry about doing it while I'm judging for either Friday or Saturday.
I can't stick around for the afternoon round of judging on Saturday though, because I'm still trying to see if I can arrange a meeting that afternoon/evening with a few members of the board of the Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery, so we can discuss plans for moving forward with the membership numbers growing so rapidly.
On the last day of this weekend, I need to keg my Chamomile Ale that's been in the fermenters for three weeks now, add a bit more extract to my strawberry cider to kick up the strawberry flavor a bit more (though I may do that on Saturday if I can find the time), brew my Imperial IPA, and then collapse! lol
The Chamomile Ale will condition in the fermenters for just under three weeks before I pull out my counter-pressure bottle filler and fill some bottles to bring to my next Impaling Alers homebrew club meeting. Our next meeting is the 'swap meet', and I'd like to have some of my Chamomile Ale and some of my strawberry cider to swap.
Next weekend (May 7th), I'm planning to brew an Oktoberfest lager. May 7th is also the Big Brew National Homebrew Day, so I'm thinking about bringing my whole brewing system down to Larry's Brewing Supply in Kent and brewing there that day. It's a lot of extra work to bring my whole system down to Larry's like that, but it could be a lot of fun. If I wind up doing it, I'll be sure to take lots of pictures and maybe a video.
Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.