Homebrew Con 2019 / NEW Brewdog, Jersey!

Things have been insanely busy on the personal front this past spring. I needed to take a step back and reevaluate some things, get my head straight and take care of some back issues I was having....Not that young anymore I guess - but now im back in the saddle!

As far as brewing goes we have been hard at work in the garage tinkering with our Pale Ale, Lupo and our Cream Ale, Morgan R-Ale. The lighter styles take a little bit more tweaking because there really isn't much to hide behind. Fermentation schedules and health of the yeast are two crucial elements to these lighter styles. We're not quite there with these just yet. We tested the waters with both beers in a few competitions and came up short of the podium. We also fell just short of medaling in the regional round of the National Homebrew Competition. After hearing the news of not advancing to the finals I knew that it was time to take a step back and concentrate on adjusting these recipes and making cleaner beer. We did receive some great feedback regarding our Amber Ale, Antilia. The judges had similar comments around hop presence. Given that this is a classic American style there was certainly some room to ramping up the IBU's. We re-brewed Antilia for Homebrew Con keeping these comments in mind and it came out great! It's not always sunshine and rainbows, but you learn from your mistakes and move on.

While I was adjusting some of my recipes I took a break from the brew house and wanted to check off one of my personal beer goals outside of brewing. To learn more about beer I started down the path of becoming a Cicerone.

The first hurdle to get over with this program was to pass the test and receive my Certified Beer Server certification from the Cicerone program. I completed my course, studied and passed the timed test to become a Certified Beer Server! I learned a ton during this initial stage. A lot of the material consisted of topics that I have had some previous knowledge about, but it really solidified my confidence around said topics. Im currently in the process of studying to become a Certified Cicerone. The testing is intense and I will take my time with this until Im feeling confident and ready. In the meantime to prepare for the big exam I am doing some preliminary certifications around beer styles in preparation for the big exam.

When all is said and done I should have the following Road To Cicerone certified badges: American Styles, German Styles, British/Irish Styles, Concentration in Keeping/Serving Beer and Concentration in Brewing Ingredients and Process. I highly suggest looking into the Cicerone program if you are a beer enthusiast or a fellow brewer. Its a great program and will load you up with a ton of knowledge about beer! https://www.cicerone.org

Shortly after completing my first Cicerone certification we adopted a new puppy! We always talked loosely about getting a dog, but we finally found THE ONE. She is amazing. We adopted her from our local shelter. I would like to officially introduce you all to our new assitant brew dog, Jersey! Jersey is a 9 month old Boston Terrier/Boxer mix. She's super sweet and I look forward to many brew days with her by my side!

Shortly after we got Jersey it was time for this year's Homebrew Con! This year's conference was held in Providence, Rhode Island and Katie, Mrs. Terra Costa came along for the ride!

Oh yea, Jersey attended her first Homebrew Con too! I was especially excited for this year's conference because my homebrew club, Glen Ridge Homebrewers Association was participating in this year's Club Night. I brewed the newest version of Antilia for Club Night and was excited to show it off. The conference in general was exactly what I needed. Homebrewers tend to get what I like to call Brewers Block....just a lack of motivation and being with other fellow homebrewers gave me exactly what I needed! The education sessions were informative, the expo was jam packed with awesome new equipment (and tons of free swag of course!), club night was a hit and I also really enjoyed having Katie share the experience with me.

Club Night was different this year...in a positive way! I really loved pouring beer at our booth and seeing everyone's reaction. The booth themes were also awesome this year! Its really great to see all these clubs put so much effort and passion into their beer presentations each year.

Now that I have another year under my belt brewing, building the TC brand and competing in competitions across the US it was amazing to chat with some people that Im connected with over Instagram. A few people came up to me recognizing me from the TC brand. It was really cool and such an amazing feeling to chat with some of these guys. Im thankful for all the success Ive had over the past year and can't wait to build on it.

While walking around the expo I had the chance to chat with the crew at Stout Kettles. I brewed on one of their systems when we were out in Chicago at Keg Grove Brewing Company brewing our award winning recipe with them this past fall. They are super helpful and really cool guys. We started the initial conversations around my equipment needs for when it is time to go pro! Maybe this will come sooner rather than later....we shall see! I know this is a very long road, but we have to start somewhere and making these connections is the first step.

As soon as we got back from Homebrew Con I was right back in the garage re-brewing our Pale Ale, Lupo. I swear I will nail this recipe eventually! Im just a perfectionist when it comes to these things and im locked and loaded with a new sense of inspiration.

It was always Jersey's first brew day! She did awesome, behaved really well and was curious about the process. She's going to make a great assistant in the brewery.

So what is next.....Well...I still need to tweak the Cream Ale, Morgan R-Ale. I have an idea on how to clean up some of the off flavors I was getting through a revised fermentation schedule. I should be able to nail this beer on my next try. After I get through the Cream Ale re-brew I have two new recipes I've been working on....a new Saison and a Schwarzbier. Im especially excited about the Shwarzbier (German Dark Lager). I had a few of these at Club Night this year and absolutely loved them. It will make for a great fall beer to sip on in the garage while watching football.

Well I will keep you all posted on the progress we make around here...lot's going on in varies different departments so a lot to cover over these next few months. Until next time...

Cheers!

-Mark

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