Group Brew Project Showcasing Unique and Exotic Hops

NHC LogoWith the 2013 National Homebrewers Conference (NHC) being held right up I-95 from Baltimore in Philadelphia, it provided CSI club members who have never been to a national conference with an excellent opportunity to attend one.  In fact, CSI had around 20 members register to attend the event.

In the months leading up to the NHC, as we met to discuss CSI’s presence at the NHC, it became apparent that it would be both fun and educational to come up with a series of single hopped beers featuring rare and exotic hops to serve at club night.  The goal was to allow those tasting the beers the opportunity to really pick up on the characteristics of each hop variety.  It also provided a chance to those in the club who primarily brew with malt extract, to team up with an all-grain brewer, giving them the chance to try out the process.

First, we wanted to come up with a malt bill that provided for a solid drinking base, but did not overpower the hops.  So we went to the club’s resident IPA expert, Matt Barra, for a recommendation.  He brought a very simple, but enjoyable malt bill that he had used several times before.  The malt bill for a 5 gallon batch was:

  • 8 pounds of Pale Malt (UK)
  • 4 pounds of Vienna
  • 8 ounces of Victory
  • 8 ounces of Crystal 80L

Next we needed to find some hops.  We remembered back to the January 2013 club meeting when CSI member Mike Pietropaoli brought an IPA to the meeting that featured Caliente hops.  Prior to that meeting, no one in the club had ever heard of Caliente hops, let alone used them.  The hop profile in the beer was so unique and enjoyable, members immediately started asking where he found this variety.  Mike pointed us all to

Yakima Valley HopsFor those brewers who have not been to, you are severely missing out.  YVH is a legit hops super store.  In fact, I’d argue that there isn’t a shop out there with a larger variety.  At any given time, they probably have around 40 varieties of domestic hops and around 30 varieties of imported hops to choose from.  This provided us with an amazing selection of hop varieties to choose from for our project.  After printing up the current stock and reviewing the hop profiles with the club members, we ended up settling on buying a half pound of each of the following varieties for our group brew project:

  • Bravo
  • Caliente
  • Calypso
  • Comet
  • Falconer’s Flight
  • Millenium
  • Sorachi Ace
  • Super Galena

Note:  I was late on putting the hops orders in and the good folks at YVH were more than accommodating in making sure the hops were in my hand in time for the brew session.  Thanks sooooo much to the staff there.  Talk about tip top customer service!!!

Additionally, we had some brewers with Simcoe and homebrown Cascade hops on hand, so they used those for the group brew.

Members of the club got together on Saturday, April 6th in the parking lot behind Maryland Homebrew in Columbia, MD to take part in a group brew.  The rules were simple.  Everyone uses the same malt bill (along with some help from the MDHB staff, we measured the portions out and milled the grains the night before) but we left it up to the brewer to decide how to best use their half pound of hops.  No other hop varieties other than the single hop could be used.  Brewers could use as much of the half pound as they wanted and make their hop additions whenever they wanted during the brew session.  For example, I ended up adding an ounce at 60 minutes, half an ounce every 10 minutes during the boil, and then another ounce at flameout.

In order to serve all of these beers at the Club Night, I built a 9-tap draft box for the club out of spare wood that I had left over from previous woodworking projects.  That way attendees could go down the line and try up to 9 of these beers in a row, allowing them to compare and contrast the characteristics of each hop.  The draft box turned out awesome and is a nice piece for the club to have and use for years to come.

Draft Box

Feedback on the beers and the project from attendees at the NHC was awesome!  On top of many people just swinging by to try all the different beers and enjoying learning about hops they’ve never tried or heard of, in talking about our project with attendees, I had more than one person come up to me and say they wanted to try something like this with their homebrew club.  It is so exciting that our project inspired other clubs to try something similar.

Pouring Beer at NHC

The point of this post is to encourage CSI members and members of other clubs to organize and try a group project like this or something similar.  Below you will find a few other ideas that may be worth trying with your friends or you club, but however, I encourage you to think outside the box, and experiment on an aspect of homebrew that interests you or that you would like to know more about.

  • Large batch of homebrew using the same malt, hops, and yeast, portioned off and fermented at different temperatures.
  • Large batch of homebrew using the same malt and hops, but using different yeasts.
  • Several separate batches of homebrew using different base malts, but the same specialty malts, hops and yeast.
  • Several separate batches of homebrew using the same malt, hops, and yeast, but using different mashing temperatures.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me and I’ll be glad to talk to you about setting up a project like this for you and your friends.  The sky is the limit here and the end result is a lot of fun and extremely educational.  Cheers!


T-Bonz Grille & Taphouse and Maryland Homebrew Beer Dinner

As part of Baltimore Beer Week, T-Bonz Grille and Taphouse, Maryland Homebrew, and CSI Homebrew Club members are holding a homebrew beer dinner on Tuesday, October 23rd at 6:00pm.  The four-course meal will pair foods with homebrews, brewed by members of CSI.  Here is the food-beer pairings:

Greeting Course – Salted Sweet Potato Chips paired with Chris Gough’s Pale Ale

1st Course – Spinach and Lola Rosa Salad with Cranberries, Walnuts, and Goat Cheese tossed in a Peach Vinaigrette paired with Chris Anderson’s Peach Wheat Ale

2nd Course – Cheddar Cheese and Dunkel Soup topped with Fresh Popcorn paired with Ben Sugerman’s Dunkel

3rd Course – Meat Option:  Short Ribs Braised in Chocolate Stout  served with a Seared Pumpkin Cake and Roasted Corn OR Fish Option:  Grilled Rockfish with a Mole Sauce over Rice and Roasted Corn paired with Dave Hume’s Chocolate Stout

4th Course – Pumpkin Pudding Pie paired with Jill Legault and Trevor Fontes’ Pumpkin Ale

Tickets for this event are $50 per person (includes tax and gratuity) or $45 for T-Bonz Beer Club Members.  Tickets may be purchased at Maryland Homebrew (6770 Oak Hall Lane #108, Columbia, MD)or T-Bonz Grille and Taphouse (4910 Waterloo Road, Ellicott City, MD).  Limited seating is available, so please purchase these tickets well in advance.  A printable flyer can be found here.

Turkey Shoot 2011 Information Announced

Jeez how time flies.  Thanksgiving is right around the corner and that means it is Turkey Shoot time again.  Turkey Shoot is an annual competition put on by our friends in MALT around Thanksgiving time.  Winners can receive cash prizes –$100 for Best of Shoot, and lots of good prizes that were donated by their generous sponsors.

The competition is open to all homebrewers and submissions must come in the form of three (3) 10-14 oz. crown cap bottles without labels, or raised or embossed lettering.  Styles are open to BJCP beer categories 1-23 (no meads or ciders).  All entries must be accompanied with an entry form and each bottle must have a bottle ID form attached with a rubber band.  The registration fee is $6 for first entry and $5 for each additional entry. Please make checks payable to: Maryland Ale & Lager Technicians or simply MALT.

Entries must be received by October 29th, 2011 and can be dropped off at Maryland Homebrew (6770 Oak Hall Lane, Suite 108, Columbia, MD), The Thirsty Brewer (13522 Long Green Pike, Baldwin, MD), or The Flying Barrel (103 S. Carroll St., Frederick, MD).

For more information, an entry form, or rules, please visit the Turkey Shoot 2011 website.

T-Bonz Homebrew Beer Dinner Featuring CSI Beers

Look out Howard County!!!  T-Bonz Grille and Pub in Ellicott City, Maryland is teaming up with Maryland Homebrew on Tuesday, October 11th, 2011 to put on a very special beer dinner as part of Baltimore Beer Week.

What is so special about this beer dinner?  Well I’m glad you asked.  This is no ordinary beer dinner because it will feature beers brewed by members of the CSI Homebrew Club.  That is right folks…Baltimore’s best homebrew club will be supplying all of the beers for this dinner.  What an excellent way to share our beers with the masses!

Tickets for the event are $40 and will feature 5 beers with a 4-course dinner.  The menu is currently in the works (we will update this post as soon as we get it), but will be centered around a local theme with fresh, local products.  The style of beers that will be featured are:  Porter, Black IPA, Pale Ale, Belgian Strong Ale, and a Pumpkin Ale.

Tickets can be purchased at Maryland Homebrew (6770 Oak Hall Lane, Suite 108, Columbia, MD) or T-Bonz Grille and Pub (4910 Waterloo Road, Ellicott City, MD) between now and Saturday, October 8th.  A limited number of tickets will be sold (~60), so if you plan on going, please don’t wait until the last minute.  We hope to see you all there!


Brewing for the Cure – Homebrew Competition for Women

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Maryland Homebrew and Flying Dog Brewery are teaming up to take on breast cancer via homebrewing.  The event is called Brewing for the Cure and is a “Ladies Only” homebrew competition with proceeds going to the Susan B. Komen Foundation. The event will be taking place on Sunday, October 9th, 2011 at Maryland Homebrew (6770 Oak Hall Lane, Suite 115, Columbia, MD) from Noon – 4pm as part of Baltimore Beer Week.

For the ladies who are interested in participating, this contest has a fall theme.  So you might consider an Oktoberfest, a Marzen, an Alt, a Pumpkin ale, something with maple….whatever tastes like fall to you.  But choose well, because each brewer may only enter one beer.

Entries may be bottled or kegged, but you have to bring at least a gallon. (That’s eleven 12 ounce bottles, if you’re wondering.)  The store will open at noon, but women involved in the competition can come to get set up at 11am (and must be set up before noon). Entry to the event costs $5.

Judging starts at noon and will go on until about 3. Prizes go to the best beer in each of these two categories.

  • Best interpretation of fall/presentation — 1st place winner gets an MDHB gift certificate and a care package from Flying Dog
  • People’s choice award — 1st place winner will get picked up in the Flying Dog Winnebago with a group of her friends for a private tour and talk with Flying Dog brewers. 2nd and 3rd place winners will get MDHB gift certificates and Flying Dog gear.

Register Today! — to register, please send and email to Include your name, phone number and email address.

P.S. — You must be at least 21 to enter and/or drink. Men are welcome to pay the entry fee, sample the beers, and vote.

Maryland Homebrew Moving to Bigger, Better Location!

Maryland HomebrewGreat news for the Baltimore homebrewing community.  We just got word from Chris at Maryland Homebrew that they are moving!  Don’t get too worried, they are staying in the same plaza, just moving a few doors down.  Here’s an excerpt from the announcement that was sent out:

The expanded facility will give us a lot more room, which means we’ll be able to offer new classes and additional items, such as cheesemaking and distillation products for your water and essential oil needs! There will be a room dedicated to everything wine, one for milling of grains with a second mill along with some other new exciting features to come.

I don’t know about you, but I love the idea of expanded classes, especially on the cheesemaking and distillation end of things.  Sounds pretty damn cool if you ask me.  The move is schedule to be completed around September 1st (no exact date yet) and the new address will be: 6770 Oak Hall Lane, Suite 108, Columbia, MD 21045.  NOTE:  The change being from Suite 115 (current location) to Suite 108 (new location).

Also, we’d like to point out that the folks at MD Homebrew have updated their website and e-mail list as of late.  So if you haven’t seen the new website, go ahead and swing over to to check it out.  It’s a huge improvement over the old site and looks great.  And while you are there, if you aren’t on their mailing list, go ahead and enter your e-mail address down in the bottom right hand corner to sign up.

West Coast vs. East Coast Brew Off Competition

There’s a new brew club on the Maryland homebrew scene and they hail from Ocean City. Their name is Ocean City Maryland Home Brew Club (OCMHBC).  Well anyways, they have jumped right into the scene with hosting an AHA-sanctioned homebrew competition called the West Coast vs. East Coast Brew Off.

It’s not apparent where the West Coast part of the competition name comes from by the information the competition’s website, but this seems like a pretty cool competition where the Best of Show gets a cool looking teardrop trophy with their name engraved on it.

Anyways, here’s the lowdown on the competition should you choose to compete.

  • There are 28 beer style categories to choose from (see website for list)
  • Each entry will consist of four (4) 10 to 12 ounce capped bottles
  • Entries must be received by November 11, 2011 and can be dropped off at Maryland Homebrew in Columbia.
  • $5.00 per entry. $4.00 per entry after 1 entries.
  • Judges will pick the 6 best beers closet to BJCP style and award prizes
  • Judging will take place on November 27, 2011 at 2pm at Burley Oaks Brewery in Berlin MD

For more information, including instructions on registering and submitting an entry, visit the West Coast vs. East Coast Brew Off website.