Following on from our previous article covering the seminars we attended on Day 3 at NHC 2014, this article covers the Club Night and Grand Banquet events plus some of the key homebrew suppliers that we spoke to during the conference which include:
Blichmann Engineering is a well renowned name within the brewing industry for producing high quality and innovative equipment for both homebrewers and professional brewers.
At this year’s conference John Blichmann demonstrated their new BrewEasy system which is a compact all-grain brewing system consisting of a mash tun sitting on top of a boil kettle. The system comes in 5, 10 and 20 gallon batch sizes and has both propane and electric heating variants.
The system works on the concept that the mash drains from the mash tun, that is placed on top, down into the boil kettle and the liquid is then heated to maintain temperature and recirculated via a pump back up into the top of the mash tun via the AutoSparge.
Temperature control is carried out by the Tower Of Power control mechanism and once mashing is complete the liquid drains into the boil kettle and goes through the boil and hopping regime.
Prices of this system range from $1950 to $2550. For more information on the BrewEasy system visit their website here.
The BeerBox is a packaging solution for beer that sits between bottling and kegging to compete with the likes of Tap-a-Draft.
The system consists of a BeerBox which is a 2.75 gallon plastic container that has a fill cap and integral spigot together with a valve and a CO2 injector.
The BeerBox is filled with beer and conditioned inside by adding corn sugar as you would when bottle conditioning or it can be filled direct from kegs. The carbonated beer is then dispensed using the injector so that the head space is filled with CO2 rather than air thus keeping the beer in good condition for longer.
The BeerBox can be stored in a fridge or taken on picnics etc in a cooler. A starter kit consists of the following for $199.90:
- 2 x BeerBoxes
- 1 x CO2 injector
- 5 x CO2 cartridges
- 1 x hose with tap
- coasters & stickers
Cool Brewing are a company from Michigan who have come up with a product called the Fermentation Cooler which is a cost-effective solution for controlling fermentation temperature or lagering without the need for a fridge or freezer.
The Fermentation Cooler is a fold away insulated and waterproof bag with a zip-up lid that allows a fermentation container or carboy to be placed inside with ice packs or frozen soda bottles placed inside to lower the temperature.
The ice packs or frozen soda bottles can then be switched out as necessary to reach or maintain the desired temperature. The Fermentation Cooler retails for $57 and we will be carrying out a review when doing our next batch of homebrew in the coming weeks so keep an eye out for that.
For further details you can visit the Cool Brewing website here.
The PicoBrew Zymatic is a 5 gallon batch brewing system which aims to make brewing beer simpler. PicoBrew are based out of Seattle, Washington, and had a KickStarter campaign in 2013 with the aim of raising $150k. This campaign was so successful that it raised over $660k!
The Zymatic is the size of a kitchen appliance and comes in 110V and 220V versions. It has a stainless steel body and a drawer for the grain with 4 compartments for hops (bittering, flavor & aroma) and any other additions e.g. herbs, spices.
Brewing software is accessible online and programs the Zymatic via a WiFi or Ethernet link. This allows recipe formulation as well as setting the steps in the mash (time and temperature) plus the duration of the boil and when the various hop and other ingredients are added.
Connected to the Zymatic is a 5 gallon cornelius keg via in and out tubes. To begin brewing, the keg is filled with water and once the brewing is complete this is where the wort is contained ready for pitching the yeast.
The Zymatic has cleaning cycles and also contains a heat exchanger for cooling down the wort. Currently the Zymatic is available for Pre-Order with prices starting at $1699. For further details visit their website here.
The Synek Draft System is a counter-top appliance for dispensing beer and the team were on hand to promote their product as well as their KickStarter campaign which can be found here.
The Synek is a stainless steel unit that keeps beer cool and dispenses it from a bag or bladder that can either be filled with beer from a tap handle in a bar or a keg. Another option for homebrewers is to fill the bag with homebrew and condition (carbonate) it in the same way as you would with bottles.
Each bag can hold one gallon of beer and are multi-layered so that they can hold pressurized beer. One key advantage this system has over growlers is that oxygen does not come into contact with the beer hence keeping it fresh for longer.
Prices for the Synek start at $299. For further details visit their website here.
On the evening of Day 2 we attended Club Night which is an event where homebrew clubs from around the country pour their homebrew covering many diverse beer styles.
This is the night where homebrewers dress-up and also have themed booths, there were ladies dressed up in 1920’s outfits, guys from the Mob as well as Monks, Nuns, constructions workers and many other bizarre outfits.
Club Night is a great social occasion to meet passionate homebrewers from across the US and discuss with the brewers themselves how they produced the beer that you are tasting.
On the evening of Day 3 we attended the Grand Banquet which began with a beer paired meal prepared by guest chef Sean Paxton. The beers were from Samuel Adams and consisted of:
- Stony Brook Red – Flanders Red @ 9% ABV
- Boston Lager – Vienna Lager @ 4.9% ABV
- American Kriek – Fruit Lambic @ 7.0% ABV
- Rebel IPA – American IPA @ 6.5% ABV
After the meal the National Homebrew Competition Award Ceremony was held and the results were announced for the following:
- 28 BJCP categories – Bronze, Silver & Gold medals. See here for full details.
- Homebrew Club of the Year – The Brewing Network, Martinez, CA.
- Cidermaker of the Year – Edward Walkowski, North Abington Township, PA.
- Meadmaker of the Year – Matthew Weide, Minneapolis, MN (Minnesota Home Brewers Association).
- Homebrewer of the Year – Robert Hilferding, Zephyrhills, FL (Special Hoperations).
- Gambrinus Club Award – Minnesota Home Brewers Association, Edina, MN.
- Ninkasi Award – Jeremy Voeltz, Lakeside, AZ (Arizona Society of Homebrewers).
We were fortunate to have tried some of Jeremy Voeltz’s (Ninkasi winner) homebrew on Club Night and to have the Bronze medal winner in the European Amber Lager category, William Haase from Leesburg (VA), sitting on our table. It was Bill’s first homebrew competition and he took a Bronze medal – well done!
NHC 2014 was yet another great conference where we learned a lot, met plenty of very nice people and sampled numerous great beers. Next year’s event returns to San Diego, CA.
If you have any comments or questions, please do not hesitate to leave them below.