Every year there are two homebrew competitions that I look forward to:  The National Homebrew Competition (NHC) and Novembeerfest.  I’m already my own worst critic, so I look forward to competitions where there’s plenty of — well… competition.  These two foot the bill.

Novembeerfest is next on the horizon, and I’ve done a reasonable job of preparing this year.  My last few beers are among the best I’ve brewed.  These include Anchors Away Ale, Absconder Stout, and Oktoberfest.  I have a couple of fringe beers that I also plan to submit, but I don’t expect much from them.  As it is, I’m submitting the Anchors Away Ale in a different category than its intended style.

A while ago I made the decision to submit competition brews using only new bottles.  When I gave one of my best beers to a friend and he said he had to dump it because it was so bad, I swore off of reused bottles for any beer I cared about, and that happens to be any beer I brew.  This has encouraged me to have a couple of cases of “submission-ready” 12 ounce bottles on hand at any time.

It’s also where the Blichmann Beer Gun shines.  Thanks to a donation from my dad, the Beer Gun was the first piece of Blichmann gear I ever purchased, and it’s brilliant!  Look for me to discuss it in another post.


Tower of Power – The Results Are In

I sent the two Tower of Power controllers back to Blichmann last week, and I recently heard back from Doug, who confirmed that the programmable units inside the controllers were toast.  The cause was most likely a short in the data cable, because the odds of two controllers suffering this same fate all on their own are extremely small.  According to Doug, these are the only two that have had this problem since the release of the Tower of Power.  Blichmann replaced the PIDs and sent the units back, complete with a new data cable.

I’ll test the units out as soon as they arrive.  I’m looking forward to having full functionality again and will put them to a test next weekend when another brew day is upon me.

Tower of Power, Redux

After weeks of frustration, I finally have an answer regarding the problems I’ve been having connecting my Blichmann Tower of Power controllers to my laptop:  It’s the controllers!

Today I took my laptop and communication cables down to The Beer Essentials (thanks to Bruce and Robert for offering to help) and I connected everything to the demo system they’re using down there.  What do you know?  Everything worked just fine.  Whew!  I had started to worry that I was losing my technical prowess…

Come Monday morning, these controllers will find themselves on the road back to Lafayette, Indiana for a warranty repair or replacement.  In the meantime, tomorrow I’ll be brewing a new beer, this one a clone of a well-known local amber ale.  I’ve had mixed results with ambers in the past, but I’ve been on a roll over my last few batches, so I’m expecting the best results.


Today I submitted three bottles of my Oktoberfest Märzen (actually brewed in May, so…  Oktoberfest Maien?) to Larry’s for an upcoming homebrew competition.  Join me in Enumclaw next Saturday to indulge in some beer, food, and good times at Oktobeerfest, and check out the awards ceremony if you are around Saturday evening.  Git yer tickets here.

A personal plug for my favorite folks at Lind’s Custom Meats, who will also be at the festival.  Lind’s sold me the pork bellies I used for my bacon and pancetta project a couple of months ago.  Over the summer they were also a regular stop on my Saturday morning Kent Farmer’s Market runs.  Pepperoni sticks, beef jerky, steaks, sausages and smoked cheese are just a few of their regular offerings.  I was stoked to find out they are also “processing” the piggy I recently purchased from Whistling Train Farm.  Locally-produced pork, raised and butchered within five miles of my home, is what I call a recipe for sustainability.