As Philly fades into a memory I wanted to post my NHC 2nd round results. As expected I got hammered a little by the judges. If you follow me on Twitter, you might remember that I drank my remaining 12oz bottles of my Belgian Dark Strong before I got the NHC results. So I was left with opening a couple 750ml's and racking the beer into smaller bottles. Which overall went smoothly, but how much damage did I do to the beer? Also if you've never attended NHC you might want to check out my thought's of this years conference.
Gail Belgian Dark Strong: Scored a 32/50 Overall. Category #18E Belgian Dark Strong. 2nd Round National Homebrew Conference 2013
Judge #1, National 31/50
Aroma: 7/12 Low aromas of dark fruit esters, more cherry and pear. Malt is very grainy and not as complex as I desire for style. Improves as it warms, but still would like to see more malt.
Appearance: 2/3 Medium Copper in color, clear, head is too thin for style.
Flavor: 11/20 To much bitterness and not enough rich malt complexity. Alcohol warmth is high & touch harsh. To much hop flavor for style.
Mouthfeel: 4/5 Touch to harsh due to alcohol warmth. Body is a bit to thin co2 on the low side.
Overall Impression: 7/10 Overall a very nice beer, but complexity is subtle and the malt esters are too low.
Judge #2, National 31/50
Aroma: 7/12 Low total aroma, some sweet malt, subtle spiciness, low alcohol.
Appearance: 1/3 Course head, copper and tan
Flavor: 13/20 Pleasant malt richness, overly sweet caramel. low alcohol very subtle. Maybe not big enough for the style.
Mouthfeel: 3/5 Under carbonated, (hurts aroma level badly) under attenuated.
Overall Impression: 8/10 Tastes like American Caramel rather than special B, under carbonated.
Judge #3, National 34/50
Aroma: 7/12 Medium-level toasty malt w/very subdued spiciness. Alcohol noticeable but not hot. Spicy hop notes add complexity. Complex but not as rich as expected for style. A bit oxidized.
Appearance: 2.5/3 Amber copper, great clarity, low carbonation for style.
Flavor: 14/20 Very smooth - well managed fermentation, some oxidation, but not too distracting. A lot richer than the aroma led on. Toasty, caramel alcohol heat. Well hidden, spicy hops add complexity.
Mouthfeel: 3.5/5 Carbonation very low for style. Warmth there, but smooth.
Overall Impression: 7/10Very nice BDSA. Great rich complexity, flavor. Needs more malt, maybe to old?
Chris's Notes: I think the judges are spot on. I racked an extra bottle to drink when reading the judges comments and I think they pinned it correctly. A little old, off balance and flat. Honestly, it became a different beer once I racked it over. The common theme about the carbonation has to be the result of my stupidity. I have a couple 750ml left in the fridge for special occasions and they have a perfect level of carbonation.
Now for the Conference:
|Reading Terminal Market|
Wednesday night I attended the Brewing Network's 8th Anniversary party. I hated it. I hated it more than anything the entire weekend. Now I love me some BN, I even have them as my club on my NHC badge and as my 2nd round entry club. It's just that the event was a logistical mess. 3 stories, lots of stairs with people not knowing where to go which resulted in clogging the hallways. Most of the beers they listed were for the VIP attendees only. I think I only had 4 beers the entire night. 3 of them meads from Moonlight because they had the shortest line (Michael comes off as an asshole on the air, but after talking to him he is just overly excited about his product) Which might of been some of the best beers(meads) of the weekend. The only really positive thing about the BN8 event was the buses, they had that aspect worked out perfectly.
|My morning Steak and Egg Cheese Steak|
|Down the other side walkway of the main walkway|
|The Main walk way inside the Terminal|
|This pulled Pepper Turkey was mindblowing @Reading Terminal Market|
|The main Expo Floor|
|I loved the selection from the vendors|
The conference also had a long standing joke about the Commemorative Beer. The cans, brewed by Round Guys Brewing started to explode around the hotel. All sorts of Twitter posts and conversations inside the Expo popped up about it. Honestly I thought it was an awesome way to chalk up a conversation with another homebrewer. I did feel bad for Round Head's Brewing who took a beating on social media during the conference. During Pro-Night however, they served an amazing Berliner Weisse. (So it was quickly forgotten.) Once the word got out about it the line grew in a matter of seconds. In the end nothing "official" was ever said about the can bombs, but everyone there knew the cans where set to detonate before the conference ended Sunday.
|Club Night in full swing|
The best thing about the NHC is Club Night. The mood changes as club night sets in. People come out of their shells. The team mentality really start to shine. Clubs really go all out with their booths. Urinals with taps, golden toilets, recording studios, couches, living rooms and salons. It's all covered during Club Night. Also you get the best homebrew at NHC served at Club Night. I really don't have to many pictures due to my hands being full of homebrew at the time. But I did try a great Brett IPA made by Jamey "Barlow Brewing", which he was kind enough to deliver to me as I worked the Booth for the Brewing Network. I also hung out with a bunch of BNArmy heads around the booth after my shift. Putting your thoughts aside on the club issue some people have, they are an awesome group of guys and had some of the best beer at Club Night. As it turns out the BN was pouring a 3 year old Goze from Jake Ocque which was the best beer on the conference floor hands down. He also won Gold for his Peach Lambic. (Picture and recipe on the left side)
|Me and Jym Ferrier @neckbeardbeer on twitter|
While I was pouring at the BN booth, it was great talking to other brewers that recognized me from this blog. Seeing other people in person from Twitter was also a highlight. Putting a face to a name makes interacting so much better. Plus over beers everyone is a friend. Right?
As the conference gets bigger I'd really like to see this area get more attention from the AHA governing body. The interaction you get with pouring a beer and being able to talk to the brewer is nothing like anything I've experienced as a homebrewer. It was however a little disappointing not having any of my beer to share. A cross country trip would of been brutal on a keg of homebrew;).
|Setting up the Keynote Address|
Tom Peters the owner of Monks Cafe was honored to do the Key Note Address. He really put Philly on the craftbeer map. His toast was very well done and to the point. Understanding he has no homebrew experience I had low expectations walking into the grand hall. Thankfully I was very impressed with his abilities as a speaker in front of 3,500 homebrewers. The Key Note beer was a traditional porter beer, which is fitting for Philly. Brewed by Manayunk Brewing Co named Philadelphia Porter. This beer might of been the best porter I've ever had.
|Waiting for the Opening Toast|
The Opening Toast address is before Pro-night. Gary Glass thanks the organizing/local hosting club and gets all the formalities out of the way for some drinking. This year they had Iron Hill’s Headbanger IPA as a opening toast beer. It was a very well done IPA. During the Opening Toast and the Keynote address you can really get more than your fair share of beer if you want it. The AHA tends to go overboard on pouring, which is a nice touch since some of the seminars have terrible pouring plans. This year they also had carts of pretzels and snacks for us to much on. A great addition, as the Opening Toast tends to go a little longer than most people want. After the Opening Toast they start the pouring at Pro-Night. Which to be honest looked like 8-10 breweries didn't even show up for. Maybe another bad connection to the homebrewing community? Either way there is plenty of beer to go around, my favorites of the night were Round Guys Berliner-Weisse which formed a line quickly after I started to tell everyone how good this beer was. I also had a Chinook Pale single hop beer
|The yellow bottles of the Honey Kolsh were so good.|
The Grand Banquet is a little like a rush to the finish line. Once the door opens it's a free for all to your table. Understanding that homebrew clubs want to sit together, it gets a little complicated. Luckily we had a great group and didn't have any trouble securing a seat. We didn't really care about sitting close to the podium, which would of been a bigger deal if I had multiple beers in the second round. Sean Paxton does a great job on the food and beer paring, the desert on the table with the cranberry (?) reduction was incredible. One thing to understand at the grand banquet is that you will run out of beer quickly as a table if you do not follow some simple rules. Don't start popping bottles open until the food paring is in front of you. Also share the bottles. A little hint, the left over bottles are normally in the back against the wall if you want more, but the servers will not bring them to you. You have to get back there before they are gone. Also, If you do not have a beer in the competition dinner can get a little long. My beer didn't place but a couple homebrewer buddies beers did, including Danny from DeeperRoots who started brewing along side of me. He received a 3rd place for this Kate The Great Stout. Which is an awesome beer, that I think I have the last bottle of. Looking back it would of been a great time to hit up Monks Cafe.