Man, what a day! Circle City Zymurgy had a great time at Union Jack’s Pumpkin, Cider, and Fall Beer Festival. The event was completely sold out and had about 650 attendees. There were around 40 different vendors pouring delicious beverages with a total of 76 different, unique beers being poured.
CCZ had a great presence at the festival. Along with myself, other attending members were Steve Kent, Wes Martin, Jeremiah Tyson, and Allen Brown. We brought 5 kegs of homebrew. Wes brought his “Great Horse Pumpkin Ale”, Jeremiah his “Jack ‘O’ Porter (served on nitro), Steve brought his PSL – also on nitro, Allen had his near 15% mead, and we had Jonathan Marting’s Pumpkin Roll Ale.
In the end, we poured a total of 25 gallons of homebrew. Everyone that came up for a taste wanted to try something different and I believe we had a great variety for everyone to have something to enjoy (I’m pretty confident in saying that based on the constant line we had!)
There were a total of 9 homebrewers that attended and we were all right next to each other. As you could imagine, we had great conversations discussing the hobby we love. This year, Union Jack also held a homebrew competition with the winner receiving a $100 gift card to Union Jack. A big congratulations is in order for our member Jeremiah for getting 2nd place for his Jack ‘O’ Porter!
The festival itself was a great time. We really could not have asked for a better day. The weather was perfect and really gave an exact feeling of what Fall is all about. As soon as you walked in you were given a choice of two neat glasses that you get your beer poured into. The festival had plenty of great food to keep you going during your beer trek. A few vendors such as Indiana on Tap were there as well supporting the hobby and offering free or discounted offers.
Elysian Brewing, based out of Seattle, Washington, had a great presence as well. They had their own little area where 6+ of their beers were served. Each of theirs had its own unique style and taste as well. With a big name like Elysian, I definitely had to try them all.
In conclusion, this was a very prosperous event for Circle City Zymurgy. I heard multiple attendees surprised that our beer was homebrewed, expecting it to be made at a professional brewery. I also had a few people walk up to me after seeing my shirt and asking where our beer could be purchased. You can’t get a much better compliment than that. This will definitely have to be an annual event for CCZ!
Come out to the Noble Order taproom in Zionsville on June 29 as they officially tap the second of our collaboration beers with Noble Order Brewing Company! CCZ member Nick Boling and Noble Order Brewmaster Mike Miller have collaborated to bring you Meeb’s Milk Stout. Based on Nick’s National Homebrew Competition-finalist recipe, this is a smooth, balanced, excellent stout. A portion of the sales from this beer go to support club activities; so you get to sample an excellent beer and help out Circle City Zymurgy. Meeb’s Milk Stout will be available until the keg runs out, so make sure you get it while you can!
Anatomy of a recipe is a new feature where Circle City Zymurgy members walk you through the process of developing and perfecting either an award-winning recipe, or a recipe they are just very proud of. Our first entry is by me, Steve Kent. My classic Rauchbier, Bamberger Helper, won silver at the Hammerdown Brewcup in April, made it to mini-best of show at the UpCup, and just last month finished third in the smoke and wood-aged category at the Indiana Brewers Cup. It is a very good beer.
Centuries ago all malts were kilned on wood fires, lending them a smoky-sweet flavor. But with the onset of the industrial revolution, these beers quickly fell out of favor and were replaced with beers brewed with the clean, neutral malt produced using steam power. But the small town of Bamberg in Northern
Bavaria made sure that smoked beers wouldn’t go extinct. Their rauchbier (literally “smoke beer” in German) is brewed like a maltier, higher-alcohol Marzen with an unmistakable smokey flavor and aroma. Far and away the most popular exemplar of the style is Aecht Schlenkerla; and for good reason. It is an excellent beer, and if you can find it fresh (not always an easy task) it is delightful. Rauchbier was one of those styles that I knew I would love, even before I ever tried one. And when I had my first Aecht Schlenkerla at the Rathskeller, my hunch was confirmed. If you’re still on the fence, you just have to trust me. A good rauchbier is not like drinking a fire pit. When done right the smokiness is mild and serves to heighten and accentuate the clean, rich, malty flavor of the base beer. For me, rauchbier is the perfect beer for when you’re sitting in front of a fire on a March or April night; when it’s probably too cold to have a fire, but you’re too sick of winter to care. It is no coincidence that Bamberg is also the home of the Weyermann Malting Company. Their Rauchmalt, which is smoked over beechwood and is my preferred base malt for rauchbier. It clocks in at about 2.1-3.6 Lovibond and has enough diastatic power to self convert.
Attempting to brew a clone of Aecht Schlenkerla is a quixotic endeavor because, depending on who you believe, they either smoke their own malt or get their smoked malt specialty made by Weyermann. So the best I could do was make the best version of a rauchbier using the ingredients available to me. Based on everything I read, a beer brewed with 100% rauchmalt has too overpowering a smoke flavor. I wanted an assertive but not overpowering smoke flavor in my rauchbier, so I settled on 65% rauchmalt. Luckily that ended up providing just the right level of smoke. This style should be light amber to dark copper in color, moderately strong, and have a rich, sweet and toasty malt character. Given this information, the instinct is to incorporate crystal malt in the recipe, but I prefer not to use crystal malts in my continental lagers; instead I prefer to achieve a malty beer using richer base malts and multi-step mash schedule. I rounded out the grain bill with 30% dark Munich malt which provides an orange color, a pleasant breadiness, and a rich, malty sweetness, 3% melanoidin for even more maltiness, and 2% Carafa III to give it that deep copper color I wanted.
Even though this is a malt-forward style, I knew I was dealing with a very malty grain bill, so I couldn’t be shy with the hops. I went with about 23 IBU of Magnum for bittering. Usually a single bittering addition is enough, but I opted to add ½ oz of Tettnang hops with 15 minutes left in the boil. My reasoning was that the subtle hop flavor would help balance the maltiness better and it would allow the beer to be drinkable for a longer time. This particular beer won its two awards nearly three months apart, so I feel like that strategy worked perfectly.
I perform a Hochkurz mash on all my continental lagers. This involves a beta rest at 145 degrees F and an alpha rest at 158 degrees F. Doughing in at a lower temperature allows me to better control the fermentability of their wort, and the higher alpha rest helps improve maltiness and head retention. Beers brewed with a Hochkurz mash will be well attenuated and still have a nice, malty finish, characteristic of the best German lagers. A 30 minute rest at each step followed by a mashout was sufficient. If I am not feeling lazy, I will perform a double decoction with this mash. The small differences between rest temperatures makes decocting easy. If you plan on performing a decoction, feel free to omit the melanoidin.
Water is very important when making rauchbier. You 100% can not use spring water or tap water. Chlorine and smoke don’t mix. Since I didn’t want my rauchbier to taste like rubber bands, I started with a base of 100% distilled water. Beyond that, I just kept my minerals low. I used a small amount of gypsum and a moderate amount of calcium chloride; enough to get my calcium levels close to 50 ppm.
Saflager 34/70 (the Weihenstephaner strain) has been my go-to yeast for most lagers. It has never done me wrong, so I figured why switch things up. I always pitch an insane amount of yeast and keep it as cold as it can possibly handle–46-48 degrees with a diacetyl rest after seven days. I wanted this beer to be clean, clean, clean.
The power of the homebrewer is being able to take a beer brewed solely in a German city of 70,000 people and say, “I can do that”. There is nothing quite like a fresh homebrewed rauchbier done right. And now that you know how to do it, go out and brew it. Prost!
The Indiana Brewers Cup is kind of a huge deal. Over 1500 entries (both homebrew and professional) are judged by dozens of certified judges. Competition is fierce, and should you happen to win here, you can consider yourself one of the best homebrewers in the Midwest. Think of every other festival as the regular season and this as the World Series. Even though Circle City Zymurgy has only been existence for four months, we came in to this granddaddy of homebrew competitions hoping we could make some noise. And while we came short of our ultimate goal of being crowned homebrew club of the year, we still had a very strong showing (and a heck of a lot of fun).
The tasting reception before the actual awards ceremony always promises a good time. It is set up like a low-key beer festival, only this time breweries and homebrew clubs are treated as equals. There six commercial breweries and eight homebrew clubs sampled out some of their best beer, cider, and mead (and even barrel-aged coffee!). Highlights of the evening included McClure’s Orchard’s Paige’s Peaches and Razzled (a gold medal winner that night), The Tap’s Double Barrel Buckshot (a smoked roggenbier), and the Broad Ripple Brewpub’s Welcome to Helles (the homebrew best of show recipe from 2015). Circle City Zymurgy was there pouring, nestled right between The Tap and New Day Craft (and gleefully smuggling samples from each. We served a California Common, a gose with cucumber and jalapeno, a Flanders red with cherries, a Belgian sour with crab apples, and a Hefeweizen run through a Randall stuffed with blueberries. Lines were long and steady and our beers were roundly praised. Speaking of which, did you know that Circle City Zymurgy is on Untappd? You can check out all of our offerings and review our beers. Your support is valuable!
As for the awards ceremony, five Circle City Zymurgy members took eight ribbons, and we finished as the second most successful club at the event. Club results can be found on our events page and Full results can be found here. The awards ceremony got off to an emotional start when the Godmother of Brewing in Indiana (and, full disclosure, my employer) Anita Johnson won the Golden Growler Award (think of it as sort of a lifetime achievement award). It was also exciting and rewarding to see several of our professional compatriots bring home medals. Friends of the club Bier Brewery, Tow Yard Brewing Company, Grand Junction Brewing Company, Flix Brewhouse Carmel, McClure’s Orchard, and New Day Craft all emerged highly successful.
But Circle City Zymurgy saved the best for last with our fun, rip-roaring, porkified after party hosted by our own Brady Smith. We had seven excellent beers on tap (including two award winners from that night), and the appetizers were a revelation. Highlights included bacon donut hole skewers, sopressata, and manchego cheese, and deviled scotch eggs. Outside people were hanging out, playing corn hole and beer pong, and enjoying a rare mild July evening. All this was soundtracked by the live bluegrass stylings of The Barefoot Hollers. From what I can remember, it was an excellent party (did I mention seven beers on tap?).
Whether they won awards or not, we are proud of all the club members who participated in the Brewers Cup. Their help coordinating our plan of attack and their willingness to step out of their comfort zones helped make this such a success. We only spent two months planning for the Brewers Cup and we still ended up with nearly seventy entries and eight awards. From here the sky is the limit.
We had an awesome time, and were able to lock down three awards this go round. Altogether CCZ entered 13 beers into the competition. Jenn Myers placed 1st in Belgian Strong Ales for her Belgian Golden Strong “Hoge Vennen”, Steve Kent place 2nd in Smoke-Flavored and Wood Aged Beer for his Rauchbier “Bamberger Helper”, and Erik Howell took 2nd in the Sour Ale category for his Straight Unblended Lambic “Circle City Zymurgy Lambic.” The Hammerdown Brewcup results can be found here.
The All American Homebrew Competition was held last Saturday in Cincinnati, and we are happy to report that three CCZ members came away with medals.
Brandon Meyer won a gold medal for his “Kentucky Breakfast Quad”.
Brady Smith won a bronze medal for his California Common, “Carrollton Common”.
And I won a bronze medal for my Schwarzbier, “Black is Beautiful”.
As our club grows and matures, I hope that we enter more and more competitions and earn more and more medals. I believe the sign of a great homebrew club is the willingness to participate and succeed in competitions. Check back periodically with the “Upcoming Competitions” portion of our site for more local and regional competitions,
Full results for the All American Homebrew Competition can be found here.