2018 Re-cap - Brew Year's Resolutions


Happy New Year everyone! 2018 was a pretty wild ride for us...It seems as though each year since we started the TC brand we grow leaps and bounds and are crushing our goals for the year. I dont think I have ever been so motivated and excited to start a new year. I have a feeling that 2019 is going to push us even further along this journey of accomplishing our dream to become a professional brewery.

Let's take a look back and run through the progression we made this past year. We used up the last of our extract beer, our smokey brown ale, "Devils Kettle" and entered it in our first competition, New York City's Homebrew Alley. We didn't place in this competition, but had good feedback on this beer and this was just the beginning of our successful 2018 competition run.

We said good bye to partial mash brewing and entered the world of all grain brewing in January of last year. It was a brutally cold winter and I remember spending some really cold days out in the yard huddling next to the propane burner for warmth. It was a goal of mine to enter the National Homebrew Competition and once I qualified and got my regional dates/location it left little time to brew up the beer.

We took a crack at a Stout using the infamous Portuguese Pastries, Pastais De Natas, re-brewed our smokey brown ale, "Devils Kettle" and added a little more smoke. I had also entered our Roggenbier to see if I can get some tips on how to make those better. I didn't make it onto the final round, but we did manage to get honorable mentions for our entries and I learned a ton for the next time around!

I really enjoyed the concept of homebrew competitions. Once I brewed up all the beer I needed for NHC I wanted to continue the learning process with all grain brewing. I came up with a new recipe for an Irish Red Ale and lined up a few competitions to enter it in. When I first thought about entering competitions I had some conversations with guys in the home brew club about shipping bottles.

They told me it was a pain in the ass, but if I wanted to do it there was a simple process that I could perfect. The first competition I entered the Irish Red Ale, which became known as, "Come on You Reds" was the Port City Plunder in Wilmington, NC. Now....as I started to enter these competitions I wanted to do it for the experience and to learn more about my recipe formulation. We placed 3rd in our category at this competition and I was over the moon with excitement. I couldn't wait to enter this beer in the next one.

"Come on You Reds" continued it's success placing in multiple competitions and captured its first gold medal at the Tippy Brew Competition in Lafayette, Indiana! The boost of confidence this gave me was invaluable.

I then created a new recipe for an American Amber Ale, "Antilia". I actually brewed this beer to share with some family in friends in Azores Portugal this summer. I thought it would be a good introductory beer for them since they are used to drinking just Lagers over there. The conversations I had with all of them two years ago is what started the story behind the brand of TC. I wanted to show them different styles of beer and it was an honor and really inspiring to be able to introduce them to beer outside their norm. Their reactions are something that I would never forget. The beer was well received and I knew that this recipe was going to be a special one. If you missed our post this summer re-capping our trip to Azores you can check out the little video blog we put together below!

Antilia made its competition debut in June at the Ohio Brew Week Homebrew Competiiton in Athens, OH.

Both Antilia and Come on You Reds grabbed silver medals in their categories! I kept going....and kept brewing...tweaking these recipes as I went along until I felt they were dialed in just right.

I also attended my first Homebrew Con! The trip out to Portland, Oregon was an amazing experience and Im so glad I went! I met a lot of great fellow brewers and also got to meet a lot of people in the homebrew/beer industry that I have learned so much from over the past few years. Im looking forward to next year's Homebrew Con in Providence, Rhode Island. The club is also talking about participating in club night this year! I have to pick one of my beers to brew and serve to the conference. It's going to be really tough to pick...

Antilia captured it's first gold medal in June at the For What It's Wort Competition in Normal, Illinois.

This competition changed the game for me....Antilia also managed to capture 2nd place Best of Show and was selected for a ramp up batch at Keg Grove Brewing Company in Bloomington, IL. We flew out to Illinois and brewed our recipe on a 7bbl commercial system and it was an experience of a lifetime. I loved every second of it and can not wait to do it again!

We ended up entering 17 competitions and captured 14 awards in 2018. I learned a hell of a lot in regards to my recipe formulation and which tweaks make the biggest impact on the quality of my beer.

We also made some pretty major improvements to our setup which will help us in future competitions and with our overall progression. We set up a proper homebrewery in one of our garages. I'll be spending a ton of time our there this year! We also set up fermentation temperature control, added another vessel with a separate burner, implemented a pump into our system, exploring whirlpooling techniques and the biggest of them all.....ditched bottling for the exciting world of kegging!

Eliminating the hassle of bottling 5 gallons of beer in a single session is the biggest game changer I think I have made with this hobby. I just want to make more beer now!

How do I plan to build on this past year? Well for starters, Im looking to build on our award winning beer line up. Come on You Reds and Antilia were proven to be great beers and I will use those to make some ground on competing in the National Homebrew Competition as well as taking my first crack at the New Jersey Homebrewer of the Year circuit. For the other competitions throughout the year I plan on formulating new recipes to hopefully follow in Antilia and Come on You Reds' success. We started off the new beer formulation with a new Porter called, "Port Nove" and a Stout called, "Vila Franca". I also would really want to re-visit our Pale Ale Lupo and make that beer an award winner. Could there also be a new cream ale recipe in the works? You bet! We shall see how it all pans out!

I also want to build on kegging. Once we finish our basement remodel I plan on building a nice keezer to house more kegs. Currently we have two taps out in our garage and I will plan on adding 4 more for the basement for a total of 6 beers on tap at our house. Hope you guys are thirsty!

An obvious goal for me this year is to make it our of the NHC regional round. I would love to sit at this year's conference sweating it out at the award ceremony and hopefully hear my name be called. I also want to brew more at a commercial brewery. I would love to enter this year's Pro-Am at the Great American Beer Fest in Colorado. I just need to find the perfect brewery to partner with....

Im excited to see what 2019 brings. I wish you all a happy healthy new year and I look forward to sharing some fresh beer with a lot of you in the very near future.

Cheers!

-Mark

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