Spring Update! KickOff of 2019 Competition Season - Hoppy Wedding Day

We finally made it to Spring! Queue warmer weather and light, crisp, quaffable beer! Sorry for the delay regarding the blog update, but January and February are always really busy months since it kicks off the new competition season. So....let's start there!

2018 was the year of tweaking and perfecting two recipes, our Irish Red Ale, "Come on You Reds" and our American Amber Ale, "Antilia". Collectively these two beers had a very good 2018 reeling in 16 total medals. I wanted to take these beers in their current state and hit the first half of the 2019 competition season strong.

The first competition of the year was Homebrew Alley in Queens, NY. This was the first official BJCP sanctioned competition I entered last year and failed to make the podium so I wanted to come back this year and give it another shot. Sure enough, Come on You Reds scored a 3rd place ribbon....Off to a good start!

While waiting for judging at Homebrew Alley I went back to work in the brew house working on a new Stout recipe called, "Vila Franca". Well.....here's a lesson for all my fellow homebrewers out there...please periodically check the functionality of your temperature controllers.

The probe was fried on my InkBird and when I went to cold crash it turned out that my controller was off by 30 degrees....I ended up completely freezing our new Stout! I managed to get just two bottles out of this batch. I had already registered this beer in the Bliff City Homebrew Competition in Memphis,Tennessee so I bottled them up and shipped them out just for the hell of it. We didn't make the podium, but surprisingly enough...it actually had a pretty decent score. I'll have to re-brew this beer again in the fall and give it a proper run.

Once the Stout moved out of the fermentation chamber it was a back to back brew of Antilia and Come on You Reds for a run of competitions including the Regional Round of the National Homebrew Competition. Antilia came out great however......I had added way too much roasted barely to Come on You Reds and it became an accidental English Brown Ale. I went back into the brew house and immediately re-brewed Come on You Reds before it was time to ship out beers to NHC.

March was a busy, but successful competition month. We submitted Antilia in three competitions to get the season rolling. We managed to capture a Bronze medal at Winterfest in Las Vegas, Nevada, a Bronze at the 1st Annual Garden State Homebrew Competition in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey and our first Gold medal of the year at the 12th Annual Virginia Beer Blitz in Hampton, Virginia!

While the March competition beers were bottled up, sent out to competitions and the rest of the kegs kicked by friends and family, it was time to brew Antilia once more and take a crack at our Pale Ale, "Lupo".

We were asked by our very dear friends, Corrado and Diana to brew these beers for their wedding on March 22nd. It was truly an honor for me to do this and would also be a great opportunity to get some of our beer out into the public.

I wanted to make the presentation extra special so I worked with my Father-in-Law to build out a nice jockey box. It exceeded any expectation that I had! I absolutely love how it came out and I look forward to using it at future events and at future family/friends weddings! The feedback we received at the wedding for these beers was amazing to hear. It was a really awesome feeling to tell the stories/success of the beer that they were drinking. Everyone really enjoyed the beer and we killed both kegs! Not that I wasn't inspired before to go pro one day...but this experience was another important milestone and building block for me.

The National Homebrew Competition Regional Round judging happened to fall on the same weekend of Corrado and Diana's wedding. The wedding was a nice distraction for me to not sweat the fact that the two beers I worked on for a year were under a microscope being judged. Funny story about shipping out bottles for NHC....well it's not funny...it gave me a minor heart attack. I had to ship out the bottles this year because we actually took a trip out to Portland, Oregon for Corrado's bachelor party so I didn't have too much of a window to drive out to Queens and drop my bottles off.

Once we got back from Portland I received an email from one of the competition coordinators saying that the cap on one of my entries came loose and the beer leaked. Of course it happened to be Antilia! I had just one day to bottle another bottle of Antilia and get it over to the drop off location. For all that is Holy.....THANK GOD I had brewed Antilia for Corrado's wedding and it just so happened to be the last day of carbonating in the keg and it was ready to go....I guess this was fate...I bottled off one bottle of Antilia and hopped on the subway to drop it off at Fifth Hammer Brewing in time before the deadline date. Wow....crisis averted.

Well now that I found myself out of beer it was back to the brew house to make some more. There has been a Cream Ale recipe that I have conceptualizing for a little while that I wanted to give a try. I spent this past weekend brewing it and I nailed my original gravity readings and the beer already looks crystal clear. This is a great sign and I can not wait to drink it. The beer will be called "Morgan R-Ale". I will get into the story behind the name in a future blog post...I want to try it first! If all goes well this beer will follow in Antilia and Come on You Reds' footsteps in running the 2019 competition circuit and hopefully become our next medal winner. We will also be working on tweaking our Pale Ale, "Lupo" this spring/summer. The hope is that Lupo and Morgan R-Ale would be our 2019 competition beers.

Well that's all for now....hope to update you all next month with some good news regarding results from our upcoming competitions.

Cheers!

-Mark

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