Ever since my first introduction to this project I have been excited by the idea. Just being around other brewers for the discussions, and events of the brewday at Klaserhausen in my formative years of all-grain brewing has kindled the passion that blazes on in my brewing to this very day. An even mix of science, technology, and art, brewing engages the mind and nourishes the soul (and belly) and while your successes can elevate your spirits (and ego) higher than many drugs can, the failures can send you crashing back to reality, reminding you how nothing in life is certain, and small changes can have huge impacts, especially with a living beverage such as beer. No matter how your mood swings, brewing is on my mind on a daily basis. They say a man thinks about sex on average, 19 times a day, I think an avid homebrewer rivals that number in beer-related thoughts.
But it’s all too common for homebrewers to stick to the familiar and get in a brewing rut. With all the new hop varieties that are being bred every year and the quality and diversity of their flavors and aromas, it’s all too easy to resolve yourself to be lulled into a lupulin-enduced coma and brew IPA for the rest of your life. We’ve probably all been in a similar period of stagnation: brewing the same style over and over again because it feels good to win. The IPA scene is so strong right now in the US… The hazy-days of NEIPAs are permeating everyone’s minds and mouths and driving the consumer market in a very one-dimensional way. Now, I love a good juice-bomb of a NEIPA but the fervor that people covet the stuff is a bit overboard for me. I’m past the phase in my life where I’ll wait on long lines for one bottle of overpriced beer or drive hours for a beer release with a low can/bottle limit. I’d rather spend that time trying to make a beer of my own. All too often I hear commercial brewers complain about being a slave to market demand – their creativity stifled by the mobs of Hop heads demanding more!
That’s why this project can be so liberating! Although the task seems daunting – research the history, design a recipe, selecting the right yeast with an appropriate water profile, decide on the mash schedule and set a fermentation temperature profile for every, single, style of the BJCP 2015 guidelines – I’m up for the challenge. I’ve come a long way since those early days working on this project, upgrading from propane to an electric boil kettle; from plastic “ale pale” buckets to glass carboys and now I’ve even purchased a stainless steel conical fermentor. In fact, in the years since this project was put on hold, I’ve grown on other fronts as well; I’ve read a ton online and in print, I’ve spent a ton of money on new, better equipment – hot side and cold. I’ve tasted my way through far away lands, honing my palate while broadening my tastes and preferences. I’m proud to be an active BJCP Certified judge, the president and founding member of an amazing Homebrew Club, and a multiple gold-medal award-winning homebrewer. It’s a project just like this one that will push me to the next level.
Some styles are going to be simpler than others, either because they’re popular and have been brewed before or the style guidelines are loose and allow for quite a bit of variability. But it’s those illusive white whales in brewing history, with an almost magical balance that only has come from brewing the same beer commercially for hundreds of years that are going to vex me. Lagers used to be a large category for me that I refused to brew. But with some recent success in brewing Marzen, Helles, Pilsner and Schwarzbier, I’m feeling confident enough in my prowess to take them all head on. I’m still worried about developing the richly malty-sweet flavors while maintaining a dry finish and quaff-able character that German lager is known for but no one has succeeded without first trying…
So (with permission) I resurrected the blog, Klaserhausen.com, and plan to do my best to learn from some of the pitfalls that were made in the beginning (temperature control.) I plan on leveraging BJCP score sheets for impartial judging and will post them when available with hopes to find a replacement The Stig to judge the beers with His own personal flare and brutal destruction before too long. I will also probably re-brew some of the styles already made by Klaserhausen and may even re-brew some of my own failures, not holding myself to the rigorous one-chance-to-get-it-right standards of the previous blog.
I truly don’t know where I would be if I didn’t meet the bunch of like-minded brewers I now call my friends, but looking back at all the ups and downs on the path I took to get here, I wouldn’t change a thing, and I’m excited for what lies ahead!