My NHC Support Group, Steve, Me and Stephen!

My NHC Support Group, Steve, Me and Stephen!

Day three, the last day of NHC, has been amazing.  I attended four sessions led by brewing legends and another about homebrew club management and organization.  Today I attended the following breakout sessions:

Homebrew Club Organization Panel moderated by Drew Beechum

High Gravity Brewing with Patrick Rue of The Bruery

Recipe Building and Competition Tips with Gordon Strong

Collaboration Beers with Greg Koch of Stone Brewing

Workshop on American Hops with Matt Brynildson of Firestone Walker Brewing

The homebrew club panel was informative.  We’re looking for this kind of info as our club, The Central Valley Brewers Guild, grows.  Steve and I attended and we pulled a few good nuggets out of the session.  There was talk of having a pre-NHC workshop for homebrew club leaders at next years NHC in Seattle.  I’m definitely up for that:)

Greg Koch of Stone Brewing with his eyes covered!

Greg Koch of Stone Brewing with his eyes covered!

Simply put, Greg Koch, of Stone Brewing, is an manic, crazy genius!  He body surfed our session and I’m proud to say that at one point I supported his left buttock as he passed over head.  It was a lively session with much info and frivolity.  My first NHC quote of the day came from the session.  During the Q&A session, someone asked if there was a chance of Double Bastard becoming a year-round Stone offering, rather than becoming available at the beginning of the holiday season in early November.  Greg quickly replied that it is offered at the “Beginning of Double Bastard season.” A great off the cuff line:)

The best session of the day was led by Matt Brynildson.  He is so much the “every man” brewer and relates incredibly well to the homebrewing community.  His session on American hops was full of useful information and statistics on American hops and their use in brewing craft and homebrewed beers.  He also offered up the best ale selection of any session I attended at NHC this year, and German style hefeweizen, Hemp Ale, Union Jack and Double Jack.  Thankfully I had saved my daily alcohol allotment for this session:)

Matt Brynildson of Firestone Walker Brewing

Matt Brynildson of Firestone Walker Brewing

The second quote of the day came from this session during the pouring of Matt’s ales.  One of the NHC pouring volunteers, with (good) attitude, said to us, “I’ve got a lot of beer back there. You guys have got to hurry the hell up!” in our sampling drinking:)

We’re off to the Grand Banquet and Awards Ceremony in a bit.  Hopefully my barleywine and vanilla porter will bring home the gold!  Cross your fingers for me!

Me, Matt, and Stephen - taken by Dr. Tommy's son!

Me, Matt, and Stephen - taken by Dr. Tommy's son!

Cheers to Matt!  Thanks for the awesome ales!

Cheers to Matt! Thanks for the awesome ales!

The volunteers make this conference as good as it is!  Thanks!

The volunteers make this conference as good as it is! Thanks!

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NHC 2011 Day 2 – A Marathon, Not a Sprint!

On June 18, 2011, in Homebrewing, Travel, by Mark Ranes
The CVBG Crew the NHC Club Night

The CVBG Crew the NHC Club Night

Day 2 of NHC 2011 brought several new, amazing beers to my lips.  In my first session, I had the opportunity to taste Firestone Walker’s Saucerful of Secrets, a dark Belgian ale that has been mellowing in bourbon barrels for three years.  It was incredibly smooth and even with its high ABV, very very drinkable, even at 9:20 in the morning:)  I also enjoyed a Firestone Walker double IPA, some Pliny the Elder and another Russian River IPA, Hop 2 It, which uses a new still unnamed experimental hop.  Today I attended the following sessions:

Cooking with Beer with Sean Paxton, The Homebrew Chef

Historical Extreme Beers with Mitch Steele of Stone Brewing

Pragmatic Brewing with Denny Conn

The White Labs Hangover Kit!

The White Labs Hangover Kit!

The highlight of the day was Vinnie Cilurzo’s keynote address.  It was captivating hearing about the early days of his brewing career – the struggles and successes, and then the development of the Russian River Brewing we all know today.  On top of it all, Vinnie is a down to earth, humble man.

Tonight’s social event was the annual Club Night, where homebrew clubs from across the nation offer their best homebrews out to NHC attendees.  The best ale I had tonight was Nathan Smith’s double IPA, from the DOZE booth – a big, spicy IPA, but dry and lacking the overpowering sweetness that too many IIPAs have.

We enjoyed Club Night for about an hour and a half and then retired to our room for some much needed sleep:)

Yum!  Firestone Walker's Saucerful Of Secrets - at 9:20 am

Yum! Firestone Walker's Saucerful Of Secrets - at 9:20 am

Oh, yea!  This is going to be good!

Oh, yea! This is going to be good!

Vinnie Cilurzo giving the 2011 NHC Keynote

Vinnie Cilurzo giving the 2011 NHC Keynote

Vinnie Cilurzo, Mark and Steve

Vinnie Cilurzo, Mark and Steve

I'll Have What He's Having!

I'll Have What He's Having!

Steve and Maggie Supporting Dust Bowl Brewing

Steve and Maggie Supporting Dust Bowl Brewing

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Yeast for a Year!

Yeast for a Year!

So today was a Charlie Sheen day at NHC.  Winning!

At tonight’s Pro Brewers night, the lovely Mrs. Lazy Brewer won a year’s worth of yeast from White Labs!  There were twelve certificates, each good for two vials of White Labs yeast!  Two raffle tickets were called, with no one responding and the third call was her ticket!  Life is good:)

Today I attended the following breakout sessions:

Brewing on a Budget with Chris Graham of MoreBeer

Hop Boil Chemistry with Colin Kaminski of Downtown Joe’s in Napa

Choosing the Right Yeast with Chris White of White Labs

Brenda and her (my:) Yeast!

Brenda and her (my:) Yeast!

All the sessions were good, but I really enjoyed the brew nerdiness of the hop chemistry and yeast sessions.  Very good info:)

On a sad note, the Town and Country Resort Hotel shooed the gourmet food trucks off their property.  Seems like a money grab move to capture the conference attendees food dollars.  Very very uncool…

The Hospitality Suite Brew Board, beers 17-30

The Hospitality Suite Brew Board, beers 17-30

30 handles at the Hospitality Suite

30 handles at the Hospitality Suite

The Three Beerscateers!  Onf for all and all for beer!

The Three Beerscateers! Onf for all and all for beer!

The conference opening toast!

The conference opening toast!

My Twitter beer buddy @BrettGlenna

My Twitter beer buddy @BrettGlenna

What the hell? A line for the mens room?

What the hell? A line for the mens room?

Incredible Hospitality Room Portable Cold Box with 30 handles!

Incredible Hospitality Room Portable Cold Box with 30 handles!

The Floor of Pro Brewers Night

The Floor of Pro Brewers Night

Me, Vinnie Cilurzo, a big-assed bottle of Temptation and Steve

Me, Vinnie Cilurzo, a big-assed bottle of Temptation and Steve

Mark, Maggie, Steve and Brenda

Mark, Maggie, Steve and Brenda

Mr. & Mrs. Lazy Brewer

Mr. & Mrs. Lazy Brewer

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Conference Flyer

2011 NHC Conference Flyer

Yesterday was a travel day to the 2011 National Homebrewers Conference in San Diego.  The drive was long, but uneventful, other than me just about dozing off while driving in Fresno.  I haven’t had an issue staying awake while driving for probably 25 years, but this morning I was just wiped out.  Brenda took over the driving from Fresno to Bakersfield, and while I didn’t actually sleep, I drifted on the edge of consciousness for about an hour and a half.  We got to the Town and Country Resort Hotel, the conference host, just before 3 o’clock, checked in, went and picked up our NHC registration materials, beer schwag and three lovely bottles of ale:)  Shortly after that we were enjoying our first complimentary ales from the conference hospitality room.  We visited with Steve and Maggie for a bit and then decided to head out to check out Green Flash Brewing’s new tasting room.  This will also be their future brew house in the coming months.

Green Flash Brewing Tasting Room

Green Flash Brewing Tasting Room

While the Green Flash tasting room doesn’t actually serve food, on the evenings they are open, one of San Diego’s gourmet food trucks parks outside the tasting room and serves up incredible fare.  Tonights food truck was Devilicious.  We enjoyed lobster and cheese sandwiches, fabulous burgers, BBBLTs ( the extra Bs were for all the extra bacon they throw on the sandwiches), truffled parmesan fries and some Fried Yumminess (tonight’s rotating Fried Yumminess was deep fried cheeseburger and pickle balls:)  The ales at Green Flash were incredible.  I had a Hop Head Red, a Green Flash Imperial IPA, a West Coast IPA and a taste of something they call Palate Wrecker – another IIPA.  All in all, it was a great way to ease into a three day beer conference.

The opening toast for the 2011 National Homebrewers Conference takes place at 1:00 pm today.  After that, there are three breakout sessions, and at 8 o’clock, the Pro Brewers Night starts, where over 45 craft breweries will be providing unlimited pours of their best.  Additionaly, the conference organizers worked with many of the San Diego gourmet food trucks to provide a mobile “food court” each evening of the conference.  Yum!

Green Flash Tasting Room

Green Flash Tasting Room

Having two of my beers in the final round of the National Homebrew Competition will make Saturday night’s Grand Banquet (a beer dinner – go figure:) and National Homebrew Competition Award Ceremony a special event.  Cross your fingers for my Beanilla Porter and annual barleywine!

Fun times ahead!

Fried Yumminess!

Fried Yumminess!

Green Flash Imperial IPAs

Green Flash Imperial IPAs

Green Flash Ales

Green Flash Ales

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