What do you think of when you think about homebrew clubs? If you aren’t a member of one, homebrew clubs aren’t always what you expect. When I first started brewing, I really wanted to join the local Tucson Homebrew Club (THC). I imagined a place where you’d find out what the best grain was and the perfect water profile to use, a place where homebrewers shared the secrets of brewing flawless beer; back then I thought about brewing in absolutes. I imagined every homebrewer wanting to be a part of a club. Why not? Dues are a small price to pay for the secrets of beer nirvana.
However, I was new to brewing and didn’t know any club members. All I knew about them was what I heard while at my local homebrew shop. I quickly got the impression clubs were groups of elitist brewers, a waste of time, and nothing more than an excuse to get drunk. I almost let all of the negativity dissuade me from ever going to a meeting. It took months for me to make the time, and work up the courage, to go.
My first meeting was a shock. I found a small group of brewers in the taproom of a local craft brewer, Dragoon Brewing Company. An officer of the club came over and welcomed me. The homebrewers ranged from flat out beginners to a professional brewer who was the education officer. They were open, they were friendly, and they didn’t have the secrets I was hoping for. Instead, they had opinions. Each brewer had unique tastes and preferences. Thankfully, many of them brought in their creations to share. It changed my view of brewing. I learned what different grains, hops, and yeasts contribute to a beer, not through a supplier’s description, but from tasting it for myself. My brewing and palate evolved so much faster than it ever would have on my own. That was almost three years ago.
Today, I’m the President of THC and I want every homebrewer to have the same opportunity I did. If you’ve never gone to a club meeting, check it out; if your club isn’t what you want it to be, neither was ours. Without the tireless determination of Michael Fry, our events coordinator godsend, pushing the club to be better than it was, and the generosity of Dragoon’s founders Eric Greene and Tristan White (two former THC members by the way), we wouldn’t be where we are today.
Today we’re a much larger group of homebrewers ready to party. THC turns 21 next near — a big year for a group of beer drinkers. On January 23, 2016, THC will take over Dragoon. An anniversary ale was chosen from our club competition to headline the event and will be brewed on Dragoon’s 15-barrel system. This, in itself, is a homebrewer’s dream, but we aren’t stopping there. Along with brewery tours, our club will be conducting a homebrew demonstration with each step of the process staged so attendees can witness a complete brew in mere minutes. We want to open up the world of homebrew to as many people as possible. We’ll hold a raffle, the top prize being a chance to brew at Dragoon. Honestly, so much is planned it would look like a honey-do list here. The best part, though, is that we get to give back to a community larger than ourselves. Proceeds from the raffle and sales from our Anniversary Ale are going to Easter Seals, a nonprofit group that assists people with autism and other disabilities.
This is what homebrew clubs have come to mean to me: Camaraderie and community. The beer is nice and talking brewing technique is awesome, but it’s the people that make clubs a truly special place to belong.
(5 gallon/19 L, all-grain)
OG = 1.057 FG = 1.012
IBU = 61 SRM = 5 ABV = 6%
8.4 lbs. (3.8 kg) 2-row pale malt
2.6 lbs. (1.18 kg) German red wheat
8 oz. (0.23 kg) Belgian caramel pilsen malt (10 ˚L)
4 oz. (113 g) honey malt (24 ˚L)
8 oz. (0.23 kg) rice hulls
1 mL 88% lactic acid
6.9 AAU Belma™ hops (first wort hops) (0.66 oz./19 g at 10.4% alpha acids)
4.4 AAU Amarillo® hops (30 min.) (0.5 oz./14 g at 8.7% alpha acids)
8.7 AAU Amarillo® hops (10 min.) (1 oz./28 g at 8.7% alpha acids)
13.7 AAU Citra® hops (10 min.) (1 oz./28 g at 13.7% alpha acids)
2 oz. (57 g) Amarillo® hops (hop stand)
2 oz. (57 g) Citra® hops (hop stand)
2 oz. (57 g) Amarillo® hops (dry hop)
2 oz. (57 g) Citra® hops (dry hop)
1 oz. (28 g) Centennial hops (dry hop)
Servomyces or similar yeast nutrient (15 min.)
5 mL 88% lactic acid (0 min.)
White Labs WLP644 (Saccharomyces "bruxellensis" trois) yeast
¾ cup corn sugar (if priming)
Step by Step
Starting with soft water, target your water profile to about 2.5:1 sulfate to chloride ratio and calcium levels about 50 ppm. This is a single infusion mash, with a mash ratio of 1.5 qts./lb. (3.1 L/kg) which translate to about 4.4 gallons (16.7 L) strike water. Add 1 mL lactic acid direct to the strike water or mash to target a mash pH of 5.4. Target a mash temperature of 155 ˚F (68 ˚C) for 60 min and mash out at the end by raising to 168 ˚F (76 ˚C). While sparging, add the first wort hops to the kettle.
Total boil time is 75 minutes, adding remaining hops and ingredients at times indicated in the recipe. At flameout add a final dose of 5 mL lactic acid direct to the wort. The pre-boil pH was 5.4 and the post-boil pH was 5.06. Add the hop stand hops after cooling wort to 190 ˚F (88 °C) and whirlpool for 30 minutes before cooling to fermentation temperature. Aerate to approximately 12 ppm and pitch yeast at 66 ˚F (19 °C) and ferment at 70 °F (21 °C) for seven days. Allow the temperature to free rise afterward up to 78 °F (26 °C) for another two weeks. Then add 1 oz. (28 g) of each Amarillo and Citra for 8 days total as a dry hop addition. Add 1 oz. (28 g) each of Amarillo, Citra, and Centennial after the first four days of dry hopping for an additional four days of dry hopping. Rack and keg or bottle as usual. The final pH measured at 4.48.