Happy New Year! While there is still a pandemic, we can make this new year better than last (the bar has been set pretty low). As is the custom, lots of people like to set goals at the beginning of the year to help them make the best of the year to come. Some people will resolve to watch less tv or to get out of debt, and these are great ideas. But for the purpose of this article, we are going to focus on homebrewing-related new year’s resolutions or Brew Year’s Resolutions, if you will.
Brew More Frequently
Brewing more frequently may be the top resolution among homebrewers. There are a few ways one could go about this—brewing smaller batches or brewing short and shoddy-style batches (check out brulosophy.com for more on this). I’ve brewed more frequently since picking up a Robobrew. Depending on your drinking habits and your budget, there are ways to squeeze in more brew days this year.
Brew Different Styles
There are loads of different beer styles and I’m willing to bet that there is at least two styles that you haven’t brewed, probably some that you have never even tasted. So, why not take this new year to make it a priority to brew something new? Might I suggest one of the styles that Victor North highlighted in his Speaker Series presentation this past summer? A Quebecoise Rousse or a Canadian Ice Beer, maybe?
Try A New Brewing Technique
Speaking of Canadian Ice Beer, why not try out a new brewing technique like ice distillation? Personally, I’d really like to try non-enzymatic mashing, a technique where your grains mash in cold water overnight and results in a low alcohol beer that still has loads of body and flavour.
Take Your Brewing To The Next Level
How’s your water chemistry? What about temperature control? These two elements among others will have significant impact on the quality of your beer. Check out a homebrew group online, a book or magazine for other suggestions of how you can improve your brewing.
Join A Friend For Their Brew Day
Assuming the covid restrictions in your area allow it, it can be really insightful to join a friend for one of their brew days. Maybe your friend uses a different technique for sparging or has their brewery set up in a way that you never thought of. Seeing a brew day from a different perspective can spark some great ideas on how you can improve your brew day and the quality of your beer.
Speaking of quality beer, it’s important to get objective feedback. While your friends may tell you that your beer is the best they’ve ever had, there is something to be said for unbiased feedback that can tell you how to make your New England IPA really POP! Assuming that the pandemic will be winding down soon (fingers crossed!) we may get to have competitions this year and competitions are a great way to get that unbiased feedback. You may really be surprised and could even take home a prize or two!
Become A Beer Judge
You can double-down on knowledge gained through competitions by helping to judge one! Judging can be a really enjoyable experience and is a lot of fun. I am hoping to be able to do a tasting exam with BJCP this year but that darn pandemic is sure putting a damper on things.
Join A Homebrew Club
Similar to joining a friend on a brew day, joining a homebrew club is an invaluable resource. Many clubs will have an educational portion to their meetings where they cover topics like brewing techniques, water chemistry, beer styles etc. Some also have a time where you can share your homebrews and get feedback on them.
As a bonus, some participating homebrew clubs are taking advantage of the CHA Club Discount program where you can get your CHA membership for $10. Check with your club to see if they participate.
One resolution I make every year and never actually come through on is my desire to read more. Maybe this year?
Reading is a great way to learn more about our favourite hobby. A couple books that I’ve been meaning to get into are Lars Garshol’s Historical Brewing Techniques and Scott Janish’s The New IPA.
Also, there are some pretty rad homebrewing magazines available like Brewers Journal Canada, Craft Beer and Brewing as well as BYO.
Have I missed any popular resolutions? What are your Brew Year’s Resolutions? Got any questions you’d like me to tackle in a Mash Out column? I’d love to hear from your! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.