April Updates

At this weeks meeting we judged style of the month (STOM) which was “coffee” beer. 4 entries this month with first place going to Sean Roney with an Oatmeal Milk stout with coffee and vanilla, second place went to Kris Thompson who brewed a Coffee milk stout, and third place Ben Andrus  with a Founders Breakfast Stout Clone.

Speaking of STOM. Some changes have been proposed.

  • Every other month or quarterly, qualify 4 out of 6 brews
  • A guided informal voting/tasting
  • Have club pick the styles via voting
  • Bring back style presentations and talks
  • Bring back committee with 3 people, but still have whole club do the tasting.

Spring Ferment is officially profitable … probably! We are still waiting to finalize some bills and payments from a few vendors but this year was by far our best year. With that, the Home Brewers have decided to turn the festival and its future planning over the the Coop Brewery (per Coop acceptance of course).

Our annual brew contest turn in date has been pushed back to September. We will also be limiting the number of turn-ins to 2 per brewer. We will continue to have a couple local professional brewers judge, but will also have the club judge as well.

The music brew challenge, extreme music, is being pushed back to June. So everyone will still have some time to make some Extreme Brews. I personally am excited fo this one. Mine will be called “The King” and thats all I’ll say.

Last Wednesday meetings have been canceled simply due to lack of attendance. We may push it to Fridays or Saturdays, or possible have a bi-yearly beer jam or beer-cation.

Finally, don’t forget our big brew day on April 28th at Barrel and Beam. All the cool kids are doing it!

What you missed at the last meeting.

The February meeting was held at Barrel & Beam.  Nick was a great host and poured us all a complementary beer and gave us a great personal tour of his brewery.  It’s really really nice to have our local breweries support the club, so please try to return the favor and visit the tap room on Saturday afternoons.  It’s a great space and the beer is excellent.

Style of the Month was Gose.   Ben Andrus won with a traditional version, his second consecutive win and only his second entry as a new member.  An impressive accomplishment!  Sean Dombrowski’s Grapefruit Gose took second place and Sean Rooney’s Cranberry/Orange/Hibiscus Gose came in third.

The next Big Brew Day is April 28th at Barrel & Beam ,  starting at 10 am.  This will also be the tasting day for our next Music Listening/Tasting project.  See the project Facebook group for more info.

Last Wednesday Club this month is January 31st at Black Rocks at 6:30pm.  We will have a Spring Ferment planning meeting immediately preceding at 6:00pm.

Next month’s meeting on February 14th will be held at Marquette Brewing Cooperative, 501 Lake Street, at the usual time of 6:30pm

As usual please try to watch the club Facebook group for announcements and updates.

If you weren’t there you missed out!

Brew Your Own Magazine Affiliate Program

If you subscribe to Brew Your Own Magazine using the links provided on this site the club will get half the revenue from your subscription.  Just click on one of the BYO graphics  that appear in various places on the site to subscribe.  For example this one:

Meeting location changes.

We will no longer be holding our monthly meetings at Ore Dock.  Our May 10 meeting will be at Jasper Ridge Brewery.  Future meeting locations will be announced as plans are made.

We will no longer be holding our Spring Festival planning meetings at the bowling alley.  Our April 19 meeting for this will be at The Vierling.

Listen/Taste Event

Our next music listen / beer taste event has been moved to the April monthly meeting.  This is a wild card in terms of music choice.  Pick any piece of music and interpret it with a batch of home brewed beer.  Let Kris Thompson know what your music is.  Bring some beer to serve, in any form you like.  The brewer of the best beer, voted by the tasting crowd, will get to choose the musical theme for the next event.   My entry is Deep Sabbath, a traditional rauchbier, and the song is Smoke on the Water.  It’s delicious.  I challenge you to make something better! – Sean R


The American Homebrewer’s Association National Conference, HomeBrewCon, is in Minneapolis this year, June 15-17.  Some links:


The National Homebrew Competition – club members are encouraged to submit beer for judging.   This is the link for applying for the competition; the window to apply is Jan 30 to Feb 5.  Here is a FAQ document about it.

We are considering having a club presence at the conference this year.  There is a club competition and the club gets points for the beers that we submit for the homebrew competition.  There is a thread on the Home Brewers FaceBook page about it.

Also, if you are joining or renewing your membership at AHA, please click on this banner to do so, as the club gets a cut of your membership fee:

Experimentation in Beer: An Outlet For Creativity

You can taste craft beers brewed by members of the Marquette Home Brewers at local U.P. breweries like Cognition, Pictured Rocks Brewing Company, and Chocolay River Brewery. (photo by AROON)

By Kris Thompson

Let’s face it; you’re already an outsider. You’ve grown tired of the readily available mass marketed beers available around you and have chosen to craft your own at home. You hastily pieced together a “Frankenbrew” system out of old coolers, some PVC and a little of that do-it-yourself attitude. You may or may not take pride in your current status but you should know you are no longer considered “normal” to most people. So why, after all your creativity and drive to get to this point, do you continue to brew so simplistically? Let’s change that.

Within beer there are four main areas to focus on experimentation in beer and they are:

Grain Bill
Hop Selction
Yeast Style

Let’s delve into each category more in depth.

Grain Bill: Here we can play with both selection of grains and amounts. Every all grain brewer goes through the process of balancing out the grain bill to hit an ale that matches a select style closely. Why not change that up and try something new? Who says you can’t make a stout with 50% wheat malt like a hefeweizen? An IPA with copious amounts of raisiny Special B malt? How about a beer that uses no base malts at all and only uses specialty malts? Somewhere in your head you’re referencing an unwritten rule of balancing and checking the bill to assure you’ll get to style. Stop that. Let it go and see what comes out the other end. You could end up creating an entirely new and delicious beer that would otherwise been undiscovered.

Hop Selection: The amount and variety of hops you choose for a beer will greatly affect end bitterness and aroma. Throughout history we have established a table of acceptable bitterness in beer styles. For our purposes here let’s forget that exists. Why not triple dry hop that cream ale you just made? How about a stout hopped as aggressively as a double IPA? Instead of getting that citrusy aroma and flavor from your current hop switch them for a floral or piney character. There are endless combinations within the hop selection process to radically change any beer.

Yeast Style: Yeast and proper temperature control will ultimately get you to that desired style. Yeast has some much to do with the why beer finishes that you can drastically change any beer by switching out yeasts for other options. Who says a stout can’t be fermented with a lager yeast strain? Instead of adding a clean American yeast to your IPA, pitch in some Belgian strain. That blonde ale is just screaming for a whole mess of wild bugs to sour it up and add complexity and depth. You could even go so far as to use multiple stages of fermentation to achieve a large depth of flavor from multiple strains of yeasts. Why not try mixing multiple yeasts together right at first pitch to see what comes out? These practices will completely change the final taste of your beer.

Adjuncts:  This is the category that I personally have the most experience in. By adding in new flavors to any step in the brewing process we can create an infinitely weird and wonderful world of beer. How does a coconut curry hefeweizen sound? Throw in some hot chilies into that IPA for a rush of heat and flavor. Any flavor you can think of is more than likely attainable in your beer. I once brewed a Bloody Mary beer that included sun dried tomatoes, dried onions, garlic, hot sauce, black pepper, mustard seeds, wasabi powder, celery salt and horseradish directly into the boil to achieve the flavor. Sure the boil smelled like soup but the final carbonated beer tastes exactly like a Bloody Mary. It is very easy within the world of homebrewing to experiment with adjuncts. Split your batch into multiple versions and try out different ideas to see which work. Here’s the recipe for the aforementioned Coconut Curry Hefeweizen I brewed to give you an idea of what you can accomplish with only a few added ingredients.

Coconut Curry Hefeweizen

5 lbs Pale 2-Row Malt
5 lbs Wheat Malt
1 lb Munich Malt
2 oz Czech Saaz Hops (60 Min)
1 oz Hallertau Hops (5 Min)
Wheat Beer Yeast
1 lb Toasted Coconut Flakes (Secondary)
2 Tablespoons Curry Powder (Secondary)

Marquette Home Brewers members learn from one another as they enjoy tasting and talking beer while brewing together. (photo by Ron Caspi)
Marquette Home Brewers members learn from one another as they enjoy tasting and talking beer while brewing together. (photo by Ron Caspi)

These four main categories are not the end of where you can experiment in beer and it’s flavors. You can go on to extended aging and even blending beers to unlock a new frontier of creativity and uniqueness. Let your imagination and insights into the process this far take you away from the simplistic and straightforward to the complex and confusing.

I once read and article about the stigma of homebrewers and the “right” way of doing things. The internet provides a vast library of knowledge on all homebrewing topics, but many people take things written in a forum post as gospel and believe it’s the one true way of doing it. No one has ever written the definitive rules of homebrewing because homebrewing is an ever-changing amalgamation of each and every homebrewer’s shared knowledge and creativity. I wouldn’t be where I am today as a homebrewer without the help and guidance of many homebrewers before me, but I’ve assimilated that help and forged a path all my own. A path filled with adjuncts and strange selections. A path of mixing and experimenting where I see fit. A path of undiscovered combinations and unknown flavors. I mean, it’s only five gallons, what could go wrong?