2019 was my third year of homebrewing and I still feel like I am learning with each brew completed. I can honestly say that this is one hobby that I never seem to run out of ideas - I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface. Inspired by andybrews.com, I wanted to look back on the year and round up some of the many things I’ve learnt.
For me, the simplest brew actually turned out to be my tastiest and most quaffable one of all. I brewed a Golden Ale with punchy U.S. hops that was absolutely on point. I will be very sad when this keg is empty.
Least Favorite Batch
Inspired by Hudson Valley Brewery and some of their clever beers, I brewed a Mango IPA. This was my first time using Lactose and fruit puree in a brew, and while it tasted great, I realised that I should stick to only brewing styles that I love to drink. I don’t normally drink fruited beers, so it's worth mentioning that this beer sat in the keg for a while before it was finished!
Most Fun New Style/Recipe to Try
For a long time, I have been trying to create the perfect Hazy IPA. Not just a hazy IPA that tastes and looks good, but something at the Cloudwater / Verdant level of quality. This year I brewed quite a few Hazy IPAs and I am still looking to perfect this style.
Best Technique Added to Repertoire
Whirlpooling. While this may seem like a simple technique, and definitely one that I have always done, I have to be honest and admit I never really put a lot of attention into it. I used to think that I needed to overload on the dry-hopping, but as soon as I took more notice of whirlpooling, my beers started to instantly improve.
Best Ingredients Added to Repertoire
Spelt malt. I’ve used it a lot in my Saisons and I am very happy with how they have turned out.
I read quite a few books this year, but for me the ones that stand out are Scott Janish’s The New IPA: Scientific Guide to Hop Aroma and Flavor and American Sour Beers by Michael Tonsmeire. I never thought I’d quite get into brewing sour beers, but ever since learning about the process behind them I have been fascinated by them.
- This was my first successful year of growing hops and I am pleased with the results. I grew Nugget hops, and I’ve used them for bittering in 3 of my beers so far. I learnt about when to pick them, how to grow them and how to harvest and store. It’s been a lesson indeed!
- Don’t get too cocky. I entered a Saison into this years Brewcon in the UK and my scores were less than impressive. I cut too many corners and it showed in this beer. It serves as a reminder not to get too complacent and cut corners.
- I built my own kegerator!
This year I brewed around 15 batches of beer, including a few meads here and there. I’d brew more often if I could, but given my current rate of consumption plus having a young one running around the house - I am happy with the amount I am producing.
Cheers to another year of homebrewing. I am looking forward to seeing how 2020 turns out (including those sour beers that are waiting to be bottled!).