December 4, 2014

2014 Brewing Year in Review/2015 Brewing Goals

As with the past several years, I conclude/begin my homebrewing year in mid-December with the brewing of the next year's lambic solera filling. With the end of the 2014 brewing year approaching, it's that time for another reflective post of this year's brewing and setting out next year's brewing goals.

Overall 2014 resulted in far, far less brewing than I had anticipated with roughly half of the brews I put on my schedule never coming to fruition. Much of that had to do with the time spent in beer travels this year to Portland, California (Orange County up to San Francisco), Austin and Denver (GABF). I drank a lot and took some time off to recover once I returned home. As a result I drank less beer at home than normal. I am trying to avoid brewing beer that should be consumed fresh if I do not believe I will drink it fresh and that was primarily the reason several beers went unbrewed.

On the other hand, 2014 produced several great beers. I bottled my first gueuze and locked in my lager brewing technique. Those are the year's greatest accomplishments. I also brewed my first coolshipped beer but the jury is still out on how that beer is going to turn out. I suspect it is never going to sour but I am willing to wait it out. I was particularly happy with my pilsner. I was worried about brewing a beer that requires that level of technical precision but not only did I avoid flaws but it turned out very well. I am also happy with the way Melting Point Imperial Saison turned out although I might tweak that recipe in the future.

The 2015 brewing year will be about picking up the pieces of the past and building upon them for long term future projects. I have several beers that will see packaging in 2015 including Year Four Lambic Solera, a blending of 2014's rye porter and old ale, Lucky Pierre Brett Farmhouse Ale (from 2013) and the brett portion of Tropic Bling (Funkwerks Tropic King clone) aged on bourbon-soaked cubes. I also have several beers from 2014 to brew, including a pale ale, gratzer, rye saison, doppelbock, sour mashed rye stout, tmare pivo and a rebrew of the Tropic King clone.

Additionally, I have several long term projects continuing or starting in 2015. The lambic solera will get Year Five filling. I also plan on starting what I plan on becoming a long term sour beer blending program. 2015 will start out two of the base beers, which I am still tinkering with. Ultimately I plan on this project relying on four or five base beers but that is also something I am still tinkering with. Right now the two beers for 2015 in the project will be an oatmeal pale ale and a Belgian brown ale with later additions of a rye saison, a wheat saison and my adambier. I'll get more into this program as I solidify plans.

Of course I also have several other recipes in mind for the year that will be new beers. Right now these include an Indian-themed saison, a Belgian quad, an old chub clone, pilsner, wheat saison, steam porter and a wheat wine. I am not sure how many of these beers will actually make the cut for 2015 with all the other beers left to brew in 2014 and all the aged beers getting bottled. There is also a small batch of an atypical lager that I will be brewing in a one-on-one competition. I'm committed to the competition but still working on the recipe so I'll keep quiet about that for now. I also have another beer that has to stay a secret for now but I'll talk about that when the time is right. Many of these beers will be small batch beers so that should help justify brewing a few of these beers.

Heading into December I have a very busy brewing schedule, which makes up for the long drought through the end of the summer and early fall. In addition to the biere de mars currently in the tank I have the rebrew of the lambic solera coming up plus another three beers I have to get fermenting between now and mid-January and I only have space to brew each of them in succession of each other, minus the solera brew. So 2015 will probably work out to a lot of brewing early in the year with a tapering off as the year progresses.

As an aside, I've added Brain Sparging on Brewing to Facebook so those of you who use Facebook to follow blogs can use that instead of RSS. Find the blog on Facebook here. 

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