High Plains Drafters

Homebrew Club – Cheyenne, WY

January 12, 2018
by Fred Hirsch
Comments Off on How to Enter a Homebrew Competition

How to Enter a Homebrew Competition

Quite often, new brewers feel a bit apprehensive about entering into homebrew competitions. Not only is there a competitive pressure, but using online competition software can be a bit of a headache. We’ve created this quick guide to help those interested in entering competitions overcome this obstacle. Keep in mind that competition is not just about the accolades and awards, it is primarily designed to allow brewers to receive unbiased feedback from certified beer judges and make you a better brewer.

Step 1: Prepare your beer

The first step to entering is simply packaging your beer, cider or mead entries. In general, competitions prefer simple brown 12 ounce bottles with a metal cap closure. You can enter bottles with different sizes or caps, but these are the most common. If you choose to recycle commercial bottles, this is also allowed, but all paper labels must be fully removed so that your bottle remains anonymous through the judging process.

Next, clean and sanitize your bottles before packaging beer. If you are planning on bottle conditioning, ensure you use a proper amount of priming sugar and provide enough time for your bottles to carbonate and settle before competition. If you’re bottling from a keg, fill bottles to a proper level and try not to over or under fill. In all cases, use sanitary methods when transferring your beer to the bottle. Cap your bottles and set them aside so you can keep your entries separate (if entering multiple beers). If you choose to mark your caps to keep your bottles organized, please black out any cap label prior to sending your beer.

Step 2: Register as an entrant

Next, you’ll need to visit the competition web site and register an account. You’ll be asked some simple information on who you are and where you live. This information is important to allow the competition staff to send you any awards you earn. If you wish to volunteer to participate as competition staff, you can also do this during your registration. Competitions are always seeking staff of all positions to help volunteer. If you know ahead of time, also choose how you will be sending your beers to the competition. Many entrants choose to drop off entries themselves, but you will also be given an option to ship your entries to a drop off point.

 

Step 3: Enter your beers

Once registered, you can then add entries to your account. Your brewer information will be automatically attached. If you had a co-brewer you want to give credit to, enter their name. Then you get to choose a name for your beer. You can be creative or simple, however you choose. Lastly is the most important elements. Choose the style of beer you wish to enter. Keep in mind that the style you choose will dictate how the feedback is tailored to fit your beer. For instance, if you enter a hoppy pilsner as a pale ale, hoping it will get an award, you may miss points for the beer not being fruity enough or having enough body, and your feedback will have nothing to do with the pilsner style. However, if you enter that hoppy pilsner as a German pilsner, hoping to get more feedback as to how to brew it better, you’ll get more pertinent feedback.

If you’re entering a specialty beer, such as a fruit beer, spice beer or other specialty area, you’ll be asked to enter additional information to clarify your entry. You are free to add as much information about the beer as you would like, but if you have a cherry vanilla beer and cannot taste vanilla, its unlikely the judges will find it. This may hurt your score and feedback on the beer. Some additional styles may require information on color and strength, as some styles have a range of values. You may also enter any additional information on your beer for any entry. Keep in mind this information is usually not shared with judges except for specialty styles.

Step 4: Prepare your entries

Once you’ve added your entries, you’re then ready to prepare your entry for shipment or drop-off. Again, check that the bottle is clean, with no label and that any identifying marks on the cap are removed. Next, go to the bottom of your competition profile on the website and review your entry. You will need to print your entry sheet for each entry you are sending. This will print a form that provides information to the competition staff to categorize your beer during the sorting process.

Cut out a label for each bottle of beer you are entering. Usually this is at least two bottles. One will be used for primary judging and one may be used for best-of-show judging. In some cases, a competition will request a third bottle to allow for more beer during pro-am selections. Using a rubber band, attach the label to the bottle. Do not use tape, glue or any other method. Once your bottle is sorted into its category and made anonymous, this label will be removed.

Step 5: Send or drop off your entries

If you are dropping off your bottles, it is usually best to place them in a common commercial 6-pack bottle carrier. If dropping off several bottles, use an appropriate box. Communicate to the drop off location person which competition you are dropping off for, and help them to place your entries in an adequate storage area (usually refrigerated or very cool).

If you are shipping your bottles, it is best to individually cover the bottles in taped bubble wrap and then wrap the entries in groups in additional padded packing material. Some brewers will also zip lock bag the beer and sometimes the entry label separately in order to protect them from breakage. Use a sturdy box to contain all the bottles you are sending. Send bottles only through USPS, as other carriers may not allow you to send alcohol in regular mail.

June 20, 2017
by Fred Hirsch
Comments Off on Wyoming Brewfest

Wyoming Brewfest


This year, High Plains Drafters was invited to serve homebrew beer at Wyoming Brewfest in Cheyenne. Due to a change in the homebrew laws in Wyoming in 2015, we are now able to participate in such events as brewers. Twelve beers and two meads were served over the course of two nights. Beverages served were as follows:

Scottish Light – Rusty Brinkman
Cherry Saison – Brian Brothers
Double IPA – Leo Casseli
Hoppy Summer Wheat – Fred Hirsch
Pale Ale – Brian Mertz
Brown Lager – Shawn Miller
Vanilla Porter – Doug Schmidt
Maple Mead – Kent Shook
Saffron Mead – Kent Shook
Rye IPA – Frank Strong
Australian Sparkling Ale – Brent Wickham
English Porter – Brent Wickham
Berliner Weisse – Ryan Willson

The meads were the most popular between the two days, with the vanilla porter, cherry saison, summer wheat, Australian sparkling ale and Berliner weisse all being very popular as well. All beers were very well received by those attending the festival. Unfortunately, not every beer was able to be tapped, but every club member that donated beer had their beer on tap for at least one night. Next year, we will try to balance the serving list out a bit more. Many kegs nearly kicked, but we really don’t need more than 6 kegs per night.

Brian Brothers worked tirelessly to try and recruit many members during the Friday session and we had many others on Saturday looking for meeting information. Many new prospective homebrewers will hopefully be coming to future meetings. We’ll also look at doing more brewing demonstrations for new brewers, as this seemed to be the most requested activity new members are interested in.

March 30, 2017
by Fred Hirsch
Comments Off on Learning about Malt

Learning about Malt

Our latest education session explored malt flavors by doing a tasting of a variety of malt teas. Crushed malt was mixed with hot (160-170F) water and steeped for 15 minutes apiece. While we did see some sugar extraction from all the base malts (2-Row, Pilsner, Maris Otter), extraction from most other malts was a bit disappointing. We’re thinking that raising the amount of malt in the samples would help considerably, and perhaps using an extraction device like a French Press would also help force out more flavors.

A variety of malt extracts from base malt to crystal to roast.


Overall, the meeting really helped our members to understand how base malts can be expressed in various styles. The various crystal and roast malt tastings also showed how much these malts contribute to the aroma of the beers they are used in.

The varieties of malt sampled included American 2-Row, Pilsner, Maris Otter, White Wheat, Rye, Crystal 10, 60 and 120, Special B, Roasted Barley, Chocolate Malt and Carafa II.

If you’re interested in trying out malt teas on your own, you can follow the instructions provided by the AHA here.

Thanks much to our education VP Ryan and his wife Sara for putting together the teas and hosting this meeting. We’ll be looking at doing hop teas for flavor and aroma at our next meeting in April. We’ll explore each of the base types of hop (Noble, English, American), and look at a variety of flavors and aromas related to them. Look for event details on Facebook and the mailing list in the coming weeks.

March 16, 2017
by Fred Hirsch
Comments Off on Barrel Project – 2016

Barrel Project – 2016





After several months, the High Plains Drafters 2016 barrel project has wrapped up. We racked 110 gallons of Belgian Golden Strong into two California Wine barrels. These barrels aged four months and were trialed throughout their maturation. Eventually, we decided it was time to pull the beer into individual kegs.

The beer retained much of its original high ester character (banana and bubblegum very prevalent), but also took on some tannins from the wood and a bit of an acetone note. We’ll have to watch to see if this solvent quality subsides. Unfortunately, very little of the wine quality of the barrel is expressed in the resulting beer.

Many thanks to DanielMarks Brewery in Cheyenne with their help with this project. Thanks to George for the space to keep the barrels, Shawn and Brent for the use of the barrels and all the members of the Drafters for participating in the transport, tasting and emptying of the barrels.

Lets come up with some good ideas on what we’d like to put in the barrels next and we’ll arrange for everyone to brew and get the beer ready for a 2017 session.


February 7, 2017
by Fred Hirsch
Comments Off on Club Updates, February 2017

Club Updates, February 2017

Our new officers have been elected for 2017. They are as follows:

  • Fred Hirsch, President
  • Doug Schmidt, VP Competitions
  • Ryan Willson, VP Education
  • Orris Wickham, Treasurer
  • Bill Briggs, Historian
  • Rusty Brinkman, Secretary

2017 is just getting started, and lots of things are already in the pipeline with the High Plains Drafters. You can follow regular updates, homebrewing news and regional beer events through our club discussion page on Facebook as well as our club mailing list.

Ongoing beer education & tasting meetings are now moved to the last Wednesday of the month. Our next meeting will be on February 22nd, 6:30pm @ Shawn’s house. We’ll be judging and discussing IPA. You can get more info at the Facebook event posting.

Coming up in March, we’ll be helping coordinate the homebrew competition with the Wyoming Brewer’s Festival. This is a Wyoming only competition, held in Cheyenne on March 11th. Unlike prior competitions, we’ll be helping run this as a sanction BJCP competition. There is no entry fee, but only a max of 3 entries per brewer will be accepted. We’ll be setting up categories once we have a better idea of the number of entries we receive, but will have places for each category, a best of show and two brewers will select beers to be served at the festival from the placing beers.

In addition to the competition with the festival, homebrewers have been invited to serve homebrew at the competition. If you’re interested in brewing and serving beer for festival goers, please sign up here. Preference may be given to brewers who have entered beers into the competition, but we are hopeful to be able to serve as much homebrew as possible. Dates for the festival are June 16 & 17. If you intend to serve, you will likely be required to attend a TIPS training session as well.

In April, this year’s Eight Seconds of Froth will be the 23rd annual competition and the second oldest on the front range. We’re already gearing up, as we’ve moved the competition up to April, 29th. Keep an eye out for new announcements on prizes and additional judging dates through the mailing list and Facebook discussion group. If you’d like to get involved with the competition, please contact Doug on the club mailing list. Additional information is available here.

We’re also in the process of planning a small homebrewing competition with the Laramie County Fair. This will be August 5th and will be conducted at the fair along with homebrewing demonstrations.

Commitee Updates

Our commitees help organize some club events and improve home brew culture in our community. If you’re interested in any of these groups, please feel free to contact any club officer for more info, or reach out on the mailing list for contact info:

  • Competition Committee – As always the annual competition needs volunteers for various tasks. With our additional competitions this year, anyone is welcome to help. On competition days, stewards and judges are always welcome to participate. If you don’t have judging experience, our monthly BJCP education meetings will help get you up to speed.
  • Social Committee – Lots of planning going on for the Summer party and possible camping trip. They are also looking at future brewery tours and other social events outside of the meetings.
  • Marketing/Internet Committee – We’re looking out for new members and ways of including more home brewers in the club from the local area. If you have ideas on promoting homebrewing and the club to others and how we can appeal to brewers outside the club, please let us know.

Upcoming regional competitions (Feb-March deadlines)

Sweetheart’s Revenge, February 17-18th, Loveland, CO
Dredhop, February 24-25, Boulder, Collins
2017 Peak to Peak Pro-Am, March 4, Longmont, CO
Mazer Cup (Mead only), March 10-11, Broomfield, CO

If you’re planning on entering into Sweetheart’s Revenge or Dredhop, entries are being transported to Fort Collins on Feb 10th @ 5pm. Contact Fred through Facebook or email for more information.

For more information on our recent club meeting, the minutes have been posted here.

March 2, 2015
by Doug
Comments Off on BIG BREW DAY

BIG BREW DAY

Just a reminder that Big Brew Day is May 7th.  The Cheyenne High Plains Drafters will be hosting a Big Brew Day @ 6846 Hitching Post Ln, Cheyenne, WY.  More info can be found here.  Hopefully this year will be just a tad warmer than last year: BigBrewDay20140427

 

December 23, 2014
by Doug
Comments Off on Reminder for Thomas Hardy Brew day. January 11th @ Brent’s

Reminder for Thomas Hardy Brew day. January 11th @ Brent’s

Thomas Hardy’s Ale – From Clone Brews

5 gallons
O.G. = 1.123 – 1.125
F.G. = 1.028 – 1.031
IBU = 70
SRM = 24
12% abv

All Grain
21.25 lbs Maris Otter 2 row
12 oz. Crystal 55°L
12 oz. Amber Malt
2 oz. Peat Smoked Malt

Extract
16.5 lbs Light LME
.33 lb Wheat DME
12 oz. Crystal 55°L
.5 lb Amber Malt
2 oz. Peat Smoked Malt

1 oz. Northern Brewer (60 min.)
3 oz. East Kent Goldings (60 min.)
1 oz. Fuggles (15 min.)
1 oz. East Kent Golding (2 min.)
.5 oz. Fuggles (Dry Hop)
.5 oz. East Kent Goldings (Dry Hop)

Wyeast 1084 Irish Ale

add 18 HBU less bittering hops than called for in the extract recipe above (25%)

Mash at 150° for 90 minutes.