Happy New Year, gang! 2017 was an excellent beer year, and I managed to keep (almost) all of my resolutions. I didn't have more than one of any beer (a habit that's proving surprisingly difficult to break, but some pitcher-ed Miller Lite at a bowling alley helped), tried a number of new beer bars (rather than just tap rooms at breweries), made a (passable) perry, and I would have gone back to my least-favorite brewery to try out their beer but (I swear this is true) they closed two weeks before I'd planned on going.
So, what's on tap for 2018?
10. Drink Around the State, Country, and World
As noted last week, this year's beer challenge will be to see what percentage of PA counties, US states, and countries in the world I can "visit" via their beer. Should be fun, especially when the "easy" places are checked off of the list! Just the other day I ordered an IPA from a brewery in Wyoming, because when you're looking at a state with fewer residents than South Philly, you'd probably be wise to take that beer where you can find it!
9. Brew a "Wet Hop" beer
I've played around with fresh hops, thanks to friends with bumper hops harvests, but I've never specifically brewed a beer exclusively with them and designed for them. I'm hoping to go mobile with my brewery and do it on-site for maximum freshness.
8. Visit every brewery within 20 miles of home
Some might scoff, but that's a lot of breweries for me. Every now and then someone asks me if I've been to a brewery, and I'll say no and ask where it is, and it'll turn out to be within a few seconds of a route I travel regularly. That's wrong. I'm not a "drink it because it's local!" guy, but I definitely want to support good breweries - and if I haven't visited, I don't know if they're any good.
7. Brew with five new yeast strains
There's a fine line between consistency and being in a rut, and just to be sure I'm not doing the latter, I'm going to brew ten batches with five new yeast strains this year. Preferably strains I'm not in any way familiar with. But never that Trappist High Gravity yeast - there's something really wonky in there...
6. Empty my beer fridge completely, and start fresh
I swear I have beers and meads in there that I've had for so long I have no idea what's in them and/or I've forgotten what the code on the top means. I wish I could say it's because I've been deliberately aging them, but I don't want to lie to you. They're just the ethanol-laced debris at the back of the shelf. This could be an ugly summer...
5. Replace my Better Bottles
I had this on the list last year. I just didn't do it. But the same logic applies: I've still never had an obviously contaminated batch, and I'm worried it's lurking in there someplace...
4. Rebuild my taps and faucets
I've never been especially happy with my tap handles, and I have a couple of new stainless faucets, so I think it's time for a freshening up in the service department! I have three beautiful new black-gloss painted handles, and I'm looking forward to dressing them up with some von Rycknell Brewery logos and magnetic tags to indicate what they're serving.
3. Get back in the habit of bottling
For some reason, I've gotten out of the habit of bottling up a six-pack of my beers and setting them aside for competitions, which I've always done as a form of quality control. Kegging is easy, but bottling a little bit isn't that hard, and it's a great way to keep a steady stream of beer evaluation data coming in.
2. Use homebrewed beer to raise money for a good cause
As a member of a homebrew club, I've gladly participated in events where our beer is donated and poured, but I don't think I've ever explicitly used homebrewed beer to raise money for a charitable cause. Once I figure out if that's legal, I'm going to do it.
1. Keep writing Beer Simple
I love writing Beer Simple. I'm grateful to all of you for reading, for your feedback, for your ideas, and for your time. I know that if it's ever time to stop, you'll let me know. Since I haven't received any voodoo dolls or horse heads yet, I guess we'll just keep it rolling. Have a great 2018!
Keep it simple.
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