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NHC 2016 Recap

NHC 2016

NHC 2016 has just come to an end.  For those of you who don’t know, this is the conference “HomebrewCon”, formerly known as the National Homebrew Conference.  It’s a four day mashup of beer related seminars, vendors, socializing, late nights – and, of course, some serious sampling.  The last NHC (I’m still having a hard time with the new HomebrewCon title) I attended was in 2013 in Philadelphia.  While I had a great time there as well, this time I was far better connected and got to put a face to many of the people I’d been conversing with online for years.  Here’s what I remember, and apologies to anyone I left out:

Departing Anchorage, 2:45am

Departing Anchorage, 2:45am

I left Anchorage late Tuesday evening and arrived Wednesday evening in Baltimore.  After dropping off the beer for my seminar, I checked in to the hotel and went to meet up with Eric of Eric’s Brewing Blog and Marshall of Brulosophy.   I converse regularly with both of these guys, but it was the first time we’d met up in “real life.”  Both are super awesome dudes.  We scarfed some seafood and pounded some brews at Phillips on the water.   We then headed over to Max’s, a local watering hole with a great tap selection.  We had some beers, talked about karaoke, then, had some more beers.

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Thursday morning I woke up bright and early around 11am.  Having already checked into the conference, I headed down to meet up with Marshall, Matt, Malcolm, and a few others.  We also met up with Derek of Five Blades Brewing and Matt of Accidentalis.   I spent the afternoon checking out the vendors and meeting up with many of the people who make some of the great products I love to use.  I also made a few connections with others whose products I plan to use in the future.  A highlight was chatting chillers with the guys at JaDeD Brewing.  They make a fantastic chiller that uses coils in parallel (rather than one long one that uses the same length in series).  Both were also great to chat and pound brews with.  I also met up with Rex from the Brew Bag.  Great sense of humor and super helpful in answering all of my questions.  Other vendor highlights were the Devil’s Backbone Vienna Lager, aromatizing hops at the Lagunitas booth, and blending with the guys from Love2Brew.  Fantastically enough, I chatted more with the Love2Brew guys to work out some flat rate shipping to Alaska.  Hellllllo ECY!

Wooo!

Wooo!

I attended Tasty’s talk on Fast Lagering in the afternoon with a few others – it was a great “to the point” talk on making Lager beer in much less time than traditional methods.  Afterward, we swung by my hotel room to get a sample of some sour beer, then headed out to nab some some food at Luna Del Sea.   Crab cakes were great.  After dinner we all attended the Craft Beer Kickoff Party, where we drank from many breweries near and far.

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Craft kickoff!

I was also pumped to meet Ed of Ales of the Riverwards.  Ed was another Yeast Bay beta tester from a year ago, and someone who I chat with regularly about all things bread and beer.

Friday morning I got up and headed out to see the talk “Brewing Wild” on spontaneous beer.  Brian Wolfe and John Wilson did a great job of providing an informational and entertaining talk on strategies for brewing using yeast you won’t find anywhere but outside.  After that, I went back to prep for my seminar.  The seminar went well and while I didn’t have as much beer to serve as I would have liked, the beer that did make it was still in fantastic shape.  [Having flown from Anchorage, the best way for me to get beer to the conference was in 2L plastic bottles.  A method I’d used before, but I’m always nervous checking important things with airlines.]

Giving my seminar. Lambic sample in foreground.

Giving my seminar. Lambic sample in foreground.

After giving my seminar, I finally got to relax and decided to attend Jeff Mello’s seminar on Wild Yeast.  Jeff is working on making a yeast bank with yeast from around the world that have never been used before.  An ambitious goal!  After Jeff’s talk we proceeded to another highlight of the trip:  Milk the Funk meetup!

Milk the Funk is a resource for all things funky when it comes to brewing.  Their wiki is a fantastic resource for sour and wild brews.  Here I met Mike, The Mad Fermentationist, Matt from SourBeerBlog, Scott from ScottJanish.com, and many other interesting and genuine people.  I served my Lambic v3, my Framboise (yeah, the same one, now 4 years old!), a Brett IPA, and a Kriek I plan on writing about soon.  I also had a NE Style IPA (another upcoming article) which wasn’t sour/wild (gasp!) but was a great palate cleanser.  I was really impressed with the quality of everyone’s beer, especially a couple of the bottles from Matt Miller.

Rowdy.

Rowdy.

After removing most of the enamel from our teeth, we headed to Chipotle for a quick burrito, then back to the convention center for Club Night.  If you’ve never been to an NHC, you should probably go simply because Club Night is amazing.  For one night, every homebrewer who wants to can serve their own beer!  I tried as many beers as I could.  Some were simply amazing.  I had several great Lambics,  a fantastic Berliner Weisse from Clarence at Midnight Homebrewer’s League and played around making a blend of IPAs from Mike and Scott’s beers from the DC Homebrewer’s Club.  There were other countless great beers but I simply can’t recall the name of each one!

I loved this.

I loved this.

Saturday I awoke feeling excited and refreshed.  With a little skip in my step, I went down to attend the Homebrew Blogger’s Roundtable.  Moderated by Chip Walton, this presentation was hosted by Ed, Marshall, Derek, and Matt (of A Ph.D in Beer.)  The seminar was informal, yet inspiring – hence this post!  After the roundtable, I stayed to watch Malcolm and Marshall share information they’d collected in mash length, boil length, and fermentation temperature in Modern Perspectives on Traditional Methods.  Great speaking, guys!

Great roundtable, guys!

Great roundtable, guys!

After the presentations, I took a brief siesta, had lunch, and came back to watch Mike talk about Dry Hopped Sour Beers.  To summarize: Mike is an enthusiastic and inspiring speaker.  I get the sense he’d done this before, but his talk was motivating, funny, and easy to follow.  All of the beers he served were great, although his second offering, a slightly more soured, one-month-old pale beer was my favorite.  It was the talk that I was most interested in after having tried similar methods recently.  There is a fine line between too hoppy and too sour when brewing this style:  one which I plan on investigating more thoroughly soon.

After the seminars, we freshened up and went to the grand banquet.

HUGE banquet!

HUGE banquet!

I shared a table with Eric, Marshall, Malcolm, Matt, John Palmer…

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After the banquet, we headed out for a few more beers at Max’s.  I had a light sampler of local brews, we downed some grub and headed back to the hotel.  The next morning was final goodbyes and a short plane ride home.

Back to Alaska!

Back to Alaska!

Would I go back to NHC?  Hell yes.  I’m already starting to brainstorm about Minneapolis for next year.  Am I having a beer tonight?  Probably not.

A Teaser

What’s new here at brouwerij-chugach?

With my seminar work finally done, I hope to finish up a few of the Fast and Dirty sours series. I’ll also share a few recipes on some NE IPAs that came out marvelously, as well as a Brett IPA with Lemon Drop hops.  I also went through to taste everything in my cellar and am working on dumping or packaging those beers.  Recently, I ordered a BrewBag to fit my 55 gallon pots so I hope to try that out in the next month or so.  I’m also planning a series on reviewing beers and breweries in Alaska.

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Bread related, I’m working on expanding my baking to using less common grains for variety and flavor:  kamut, spelt, and einkorn.  I hope to have results within a few weeks.  I’m also working on my flour blend for bagels.

Other than that, if there’s anything YOU as a reader want to know about, shoot me an email or leave a comment below.

19 Comments

  1. Great recap. And that’s one handsome moderator at the Bloggers Roundtable. Hahahaha. Cheers!

  2. It was an experience for certain, I’ll not soon forget. Thank you for the mention, and for the inspiration! It was really cool meeting and chatting with you, I also really enjoyed your talk. I’ll be in touch – cheers!

  3. I really enjoyed your talk (and beers!) and admittedly was staggered by the scale of your brewing! This was my first NHC (better late than never, since I have passed the big 5-0) so it was a bit overwhelming, but a lot of fun. I definitely plan on going next year, and will make sure to introduce myself.
    I am new to Lambics, but fell in love with them after having a few in Belgium last year. I want to try brewing one, need to work up the courage 😄
    Cheers,
    Scott

    • bhall

      June 15, 2016 at 12:14 pm

      No courage needed! Very similar process to any other beer, just adding different microbes and letting it sit for a year or three. The hard part is not tasting and keeping the airlock full.

  4. That talk about dry hopped sours sounds interesting. My partner and I did some experiments dry hopping a Berliner Weisse and got some really mixed results. Citra was just super bitter but Nelson Sauvin came out beautiful.

    Really looking forward to the AHA publishing these online so I can hear what I missed.

    🍻

    • bhall

      June 15, 2016 at 12:14 pm

      Mike had some great examples of the style. Subtle sour and hopping. Really nice to have the samples to reference the talk as I’d had some mixed results lately with the process.

  5. Great, concise recap Brian! Great to meet you at the conference and I look forward to checking out more of your blog and hopefully reconnecting next year in Minneapolis!

  6. Great write up! The problem is, it just makes me sadder that I didn’t go. 🙁

    Are you thinking about going next year? Cheers!

  7. I wonder if it is possible to access the recorded seminars somewhere

  8. Great meeting you, Brian! hopefully see you next year!

    • bhall

      June 18, 2016 at 7:43 pm

      Here’s to hoping! I’m already asking for the time off. Great to meet you as well! Love the recap of NHC on your site!

  9. Great recap Brian! It was very nice meeting you and I thoroughly enjoyed both your seminar and your beers. Thank you for the kind words on my beers from the bottle share (Which was awesome! Easily the best beers I had all week!). Hopefully I will see you next year in Minneapolis! Cheers!

    • bhall

      June 18, 2016 at 7:49 pm

      Thanks! I hope to be in MN next year as well. Hopefully I’ll plan a little more in advance and bring a few more bottles/kegs. MtF bottle share was a super-highlight.

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