Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Flying Bike Board Member Elections Are Coming

Since it went public earlier this year, I have been highly involved with a new venture; the Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery here in Seattle. 

If you've been following my posts, then you already know what Flying Bike is about.  For those of you unfamiliar with it, Flying Bike will be Seattle's first cooperative brewery.  We do not yet have a physical location, but have a membership over 400 strong and growing.  We're hoping to have a location secured and have our doors open by late 2012.  Things are in the early planning stages now for location, brewing system(s), taproom or brewpub, etc. 

Currently, we're gearing up for our first homebrew competition.  It's an IPA only competition (English, American or Imperial IPAs are acceptable), and it's only open to members of the Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery.  The winner of this competition will have their beer scaled up and brewed by Three Skulls Ales here in Seattle.   Though contract brewed, this will be Flying Bike's first official beer.  I will be entering an Imperial IPA into this competition myself, so wish me luck. 

Also, coming up fast are the Flying Bike Board Member elections.  There are three board positions opening up, and I am running for one of them.  If I am elected, I will have a more direct say/influence over the direction things will take for the Cooperative.  And since I'm highly motivated to see Flying Bike succeed, I'm very eager for this opportunity. 

I've been drumming up support among the Flying Bike members by attending events, spreading the word about Flying Bike and my desire to be on the board across the web, in area breweries and beer bars, etc.  I'm trying to build a buzz, that Beer Monger (Aka: Michael Dieterle - me) is very serious about this and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to make Flying Bike a success.  You can view profiles for all board member candidates here:, and you can view my video appeal for your vote on Youtube here:

If all goes well, I hope to be one of the three new members of the Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery Board of Directors.  So wish me luck, and if you're a Flying Bike member, please vote for me.  Thanks.

Drink responsibly and stay safe out there. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Patience Is A Virtue

Back in April of this year in a post titled, "Patience & Planning Ahead", I posted about the necessity of patience in the brewing and fermentation process.  I think, with my latest batch of IPA, I have finally realized the true benefits of patience and planning. 

Back in late June, I brewed an IPA for a competition.  The competiton is the Fly-PA IPA competition being put on by the Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery.  It's a cooperative members-only competiton to find Flying Bike's 'flagship' IPA beer.  The winner will have their beer scaled up and contract-brewed by Three Skulls Ales here in Seattle.  It's a rare opportunity for a homebrewer, like myself, to not only have their beer featured at a local pub, but to create what will be the first ever production beer created for the Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery; an important milestone for any brewery - or brewer.  I brewed a nice and hoppy Imperial IPA, with a final acohol level somewhere in range of 7-8 percent (7.75% ABV). 

A Beautiful Imperial IPA

The Imperial IPA I brewed stayed nestled in it's primary fermenter at 68 degrees for a full three weeks before I moved it from the fermenter to a 5-gallon keg for conditioning.  I had intended to let the beer condition for just a week or two before dry-hopping it, but I got so busy and sidetracked that I didn't get around to dry-hopping it until about a week ago (August 17th); which means the beer was allowed to condition for about 4 1/2 weeks before being dry-hopped.  This was not a bad thing. 

The beer was not carbonated during conditioning.  I only placed a gentle blanket of CO2 at 10PSI into the keg just after filling it, and then disconnected the CO2 line.  Two days after adding the hops (in a 'hop sock') to the keg, I began carbonation. 

Last night, I got the first true taste of the finished beer - dry hopped an all.  I was very pleased.  I can honestly say that this may very well be the best IPA I have ever brewed.  It was also the first batch where my wife, Lynn, was my assistant brewer.  So it was a great milestone for her as well. 

The aroma, appearance and flavor of my IIPA were all right where I wanted them to be.  I had to stop myself from going back for more.  I want to let the beer sit a few days longer, and then I'll bottle some this weekend for the competition.  After that, I can begin enjoying the rest for myself and bring some to a few friends for them to enjoy as well. 

I used a brand new recipe, concocted from scratch by myself, for this batch.  It is definitely a recipe I'll have to try again.  I had originally planned to use Simcoe hops for this batch, but I was unable to find any, so I used a combination of different hops as a 'substitute'.  Now, I have my hands on some Simcoe from this year's crop, so I'll have to try the Simcoe version as well and see how it compares to what I've got now. 

So wish my luck!  If I'm fortunate enough to win the Fly-PA competition, it won't be long before you'll be able to taste my beer on tap right here in Seattle.  If I don't manage to win, perhaps you'll be able to taste some anyway... but you'll have to find me!  ;) 

Drink responsibly and stay safe out there! 

My BJCP Classes Have Begun

Last Wednesday was my first BJCP class.  I've been so busy with other things lately that, frankly, it kind of snuck up on me.  I didn't get as much pre-class studying done as I would have liked, so hopefully I'll be able to keep up and do well on the October exam. 

I'm still on the waiting list for the exam, but I believe I have a good chance of getting in, since I'm not too far down on the waiting list.  The agonizing part is that, after testing, it can take 4-6 months (possibly longer) to get my results back.  That's a long time to wait to find out how well I did. 

The October exam will also be the last one given in the current format, which consists of a three-hour written exam along with four different beer taste-tests, which are brought out in half-hour intervals after the first hour and a half of the exam.  So it's important to pace yourself well, and be prepared to take a 10-15 minute 'break' from the written test to evaluate each beer brought out to you. 

In part because getting results takes so long, the BJCP is changing up the format of the exam starting next year.  In the new format, the written portion of the test can be taken online, while the tasting portion of the test must be scheduled at a differnt time, and of course in-person.  Since the new format online test will basically amount to an open-book test, it will be setup so that you have to answer each question quickly (i.e. No time to go 'look up' the answers).  Also, with the new format, 'Recognized' is the highest level you can achieve, even if you score a perfect 100 on the written test.  In the current format, it's possible (though unlikely unless you're just that good) to score a 'Master' rank right out of the gate if you do well enough on the written and tasting portions of the exam. 

It's too early for me to say how I feel I'll do on the exam, but I'm going to be studying hard and looking forward to the practice test we'll have later on in my class.  Week 1 of the class was a basic introduction, including judging procedures, a discussion of malting grains, and we tasted/evaluated some Light Lagers (Style Caterory 1) and Pilsners (Style Category 2). 

This weeks class will focus on preparing better beer scoresheets, the beer faults checklist (what causes 'off' flavors in beer and how to remedy them in the brewing & fermatation process), and we'll be tasting/evaluating some European Amber Lagers (Style Category 3), and some Dark Lagers (Style Category 4). 

We've only just begun and there's a long way to go.  So please excuse me if my posting slows down a bit in the next month or two.  I'll be busy studying all of the material.  Or, who knows, I may find that posting more about what I'm studying each week could help me retain more of the information as I pass it along to you.  I'll have to wait and see. 

Drink responsibly and stay safe out there. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Beer Monger World Beer Tour Project

To quote a great man: "I have a dream!"  I bet most of you out there do as well; if not several.  Well, one of my dreams involves traveling the World.  My wife and I Love to travel, and want to see as much of this World as we can during our time here on Earth. 

I want to see it ALL!

Since we also Love good beer, however, why not combine the two Loves and try to find a way to tour the World in a quest to visit every production brewery in the World?  This, my dear friends, is the Beer Monger World Beer Tour Project. 

At the moment the project just a dream; my dream.  But I'm going to do the legwork and lay the groundwork for what I'm hoping will eventually become an either television or web-based show/series focusing on my Love of good beer and my travels around the World in the quest to try every beer the World has to offer. 

It would probably be best to focus on just one continent at a time so the show could focus on specific beer styles and the regions the originate from.  I mean, I don't want to be visiting a brewery in California one day and try to be visiting a brewery in Hawaii the next.  Oh wait; bad example.  ;)  lol   But you get the idea.  It would probably be best as well, at least financially, to start off with the show in America.  It could be something as simple as taking a motor home across the USA, stopping at every brewery. 

The World's First Beer Recipe?  Who knows.

Next up I'd have to say Europe; where it all began.  OK, OK, there are theories that brewing actually started in Africa, and I'd want to get into that debate somewhere within the show.  After Europe, we'd proceed to Africa, South America, Asia and... are there any breweries in Antarctica yet? 

As a preliminary 'warm up', and so I can get the feel of doing it, I may start bringing a video camera with me each time I visit a new brewery locally, as I often do, so I can make a little10-15 minute 'show' out of each visit.  I'd try to setup tours and possibly even interviews before my visit with the brewer and/or other staff.  It will also help me hone my woefully out of practice video editing skills. 

My current equipment (I guess I need a sponsor!)

If I can manage to pull this thing together, in the future you may see a PayPal donation link here on my blog as a way to help me start building funds to get the show off the ground.  Subscribers to the show would get to live vicariously though my wife & I, as we travel the World, and explore every nook and cranny of the brewing World. 

Drink responsibly and stay safe out there. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My Trip To Portland

This past weekend was my birthday; and for my birthday I wanted to continue my quest to visit several different breweries.  This time, however, I decided to leave the confines of WA, leave the motorcycle at home and head down to Portland for a day trip with my wife, Lynn. 

On the agenda was Gustav's (an excellent German restaurant in Vancouver, WA, where we stopped for lunch), Hair of the Dog Brewing, Hopworks Urban Brewery and Laurelwood Brewery.  I'd like to take this opportunity to again thank my wife, Lynn, for being my designated driver for this little adventure. 

If you're a German food fan, Gustav's is worth the trip!  Their menu includes schnitzels, spaetzle, red cabbage, lamb shank, sauerbraten, fondue and more; it's all here and all done very well.  They also have a full selection of German beers to accomapny your meal: Hofbrau Delicator, Aktien Zwick'l Kellerbier, Spaten Munich Helles, Radeberger Pilsner, Hacker Pschorr Dunkel Weisse, Ayinger Celebrator, Paulaner Oktoberfest, etc. etc. etc. 

The Stained Glass Behind the Bar at Gustav's

In fact, they have such a great selection of German and other European beers that Gustav's owner is strongly considering opening up a separate, German style pub in Portland in the near future. 

My Radeberger Pilsner

For my first meal of the day, I opted for the veal Jaegerschnitzel with Spaetzle and a Radeberger Pilsner.  The Jaegerschnitzel was done perfectly and I've always been a fan of Spaetzle over potatoes as my side with German meals.  The Radeberger Pilsner was spot on, with the traditional German Pilsner notes of flowery/spicy hops and a nice pilsner malt character.  It was the perfect accompaniment to my meal.