Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Let's Talk Blending at the 2015 National Homebrewers Conference

I was recently selected as a speaker for the 2015 National Homebrewers Conference. What a HUGE honor! I thoroughly enjoyed presenting in 2013 and can't wait to geek out again in San Diego! A (still pretty rough) outline of this year's presentation is given at the end of this post.

This year's list of seminars and speakers is outstanding, and I can't wait to take in brewing knowledge from these all-star brewers!

I'm STOKED to meet up with several of the homebrewers who I know mostly or solely via social media, forums and blogs. If you're going to be there, give me a shout on Twitter or Instagram!

Every year I'm blown away by the quality of homebrewed sour and funky beer at NHC. Though I can't serve beer during the presentation, I will be filling my bags with as much homebrew as they will hold! I can't wait to trade pours and talk shop! Of course, this luggage space will be refilled with Cali saisons and sours before we make our way back to Saint Louis.

After the conference, my wife and I are heading up the coast to visit family and breweries (Russian River and The Rare Barrel, among others). I want to visit breweries doing interesting things with mixed fermentation, so if you have recommendations, I'm all ears!

Presentation Outline

In this year's presentation, I will dive into the broad topic of post-fermentation evaluation and adjustment. My intent is to give practical advice on execution of beer evaluation, small adjustments, flavor additions, and blending.

First, we will review critical beer evaluation. It may see elementary, but committing to an evaluation ritual and being able to consistently repeat it will, in turn, make your adjustments repeatable in the future. After all, the whole point of evaluation and adjustment is to produce great beer now while making it easier to replicate later.

For 'tweaking' finished beer, I've stolen a few tricks from chefs, bakers, and wine makers. We will discuss 'seasoning' beer with minerals: salt, gypsum, and calcium chloride. I will also share some ideas and experiments in enhancing a signature flavor by adding very small amounts of supporting flavors, like enhancing chocolate flavor with vanilla or coffee (an old bakers' trick). Finally, we'll spend some time on adding fruits and spices without going overboard OR using an entire batch. Because 5 gallons of pumpkin or Christmas beer is just too damn much (for our house, anyway).

Blending beer fits in well with this topic, but it is also the portion I'm most passionate about. Though my blending experience is based in sour beer, we'll discuss how to apply blending principles across all beer styles. I will also share my setup and procedure for blending by weight in a closed, keg-to-keg transfer.

See you in San Diego!


  1. Very cool. Sounds like it's going to be a great presentation. Congrats!

    1. Thanks, man. Can't wait to share beers and get the update on Bootleg Biology's growth!