2021 Year in Review

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by OddNotion, Dec 3, 2021.

  1. OddNotion

    OddNotion Defender (600) Nov 1, 2009 New Jersey

    At the end of last year I posted a thread about 2021 Brewing Goals

    Now that we are at the end of the year I wanted to see how everyone fared with both the originally stated goals as well as anything else you set out to accomplish this year.

    My original goals and results:
    1. Nail down my perfect Saison
    Failed on this one. I made maybe 4 or 5 saisons, all were acceptable but nothing worth rebrewing without tweaks.

    2. Brew a Pilsner I am happy with
    Victory on this one, though I only brewed 1 Pilsner. It came out great and I will be brewing more in 2022 if I can find the time. I also brewed a Kolsch I was equally happy with which was almost the same recipe with different yeast and shorter lagering.

    3. Enter a few competitions
    Victory on this one as well. I entered a total of 6 beers in 2 competitions. I ended up with 1 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze in their respective categories. 2 beers got completely torn apart, one of which is the Dark Mild I mentioned in that thread as a beer I had nailed down :sunglasses:

    Aside from that, my NEIPAs took another huge step forward and I really think they compare favorably to most of what I can pick up from the store. Oxygen free dry hopping and spunding make a world of difference.
  2. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (5,369) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Society Trader

    I didn't have any goals for this year, but let me tell you, this has been one of my favorite years of beer.

    - I passed 2500 reviews (and headed for 2600).

    - I met several more BA members, and got to travel to some fun places, including the PNW.

    - I tried one of my grails - Beer:Barrel:Time. And several other beers, including BA Abraxas, BA Sump, and BA Affogato.

    - I tried several Top 250 beers, and collected several more for the future.

    - I focused mostly on local work, enjoying the company and product of local brewers.

    Best part is there is still a chance to try a couple more grail beers this year, and - potentially - meet another BA member or two.
  3. MrOH

    MrOH Poo-Bah (1,993) Jul 5, 2010 Malta

    Going to give myself a D for meeting my goals this year. The closest homebrew club meets on a night when I'm already busy, and building a keezer seemed like a poor use of money while I was out of work and incurred some medical debt. Did a pretty good job of moving through ingredients, though. Not as much as I had hoped, but I didn't brew as much as I had hoped, either.
  4. PortLargo

    PortLargo Zealot (510) Oct 19, 2012 Florida

    Would you mind expanding on the categories where you had success? Did the judges for your Dark Mild know what they were talking about?
    Harrison8 and OddNotion like this.
  5. thebriansmaude

    thebriansmaude Initiate (110) Dec 16, 2016 Canada (AB)

    I had intended to give away more beer, I think I gave a way less (does that just mean I drank more?? Still gave away a bunch of growlers and bottled sours though)

    My second goal was to brew a Pils that I am proud of - so far I have made 7 pilsners this year, and some were definitely better than others, but I still feel that I am a long way off from nailing this style. First attempt was a Bo Pils that was severely under bittered (wow you gotta crank up with hops when brewing with soft water!) that was 'so so ', ranging to a live-lagered Pils that once cleared, was pretty spectacular. I also dabbled in big hop stands, whole cone hops, dip hopping , all boil hopping. I recently procured some Saphir to try on the advice of Stan Hieronymus. I tried Mexican lager yeast, Diamond lager, Isar lager from escarpment, and WY2206. I think Escarpment's Isar Lager got me by best attempt this year.... Still nothing like a proper German or Czech example, but hey, Brewing wouldn't be fun if brewing really great beer wasn't sometimes VERY challenging

    Third was to brew with intention and be less careless, or avoid trying to just throw a batch together because I felt like brewing - this I think I did , and although they still weren't all zingers, I enjoyed some beers that were tweaks on past successes, and ones that were more thought out. Not to say an improvised off the cuff beer can't be good , but last year I did that and then was kicking myslef trying to get through kegs of underwhelming beers. ONWARD!
    Jasonja1474, VikeMan, MrOH and 2 others like this.
  6. jbakajust1

    jbakajust1 Crusader (777) Aug 25, 2009 Oregon

    What yeast(s) are you using? What malts? ABV? Hops? IBUs? FG? What is "perfect" to you?
    OddNotion likes this.
  7. OddNotion

    OddNotion Defender (600) Nov 1, 2009 New Jersey

    I had success with my barrel aged barleywine and an NEIPA. I think the judges did fine with the Dark Mild, I think part of the issue is that I have not had a real example so my version was based off of my reading and interpretation and not personal experience with the style. It was a good beer but more likely than not belonged in a different category. I will brew something from the Barclay Perkins blog in 2022 to brew it closer to his descriptions and research.
    JSullivan, VikeMan, PortLargo and 2 others like this.
  8. OddNotion

    OddNotion Defender (600) Nov 1, 2009 New Jersey

    Perfect to me is something along the lines of Saisons I have had from Tired Hands. Tart but not sour, funky but not full on barnyard, still retains flavor of the Saison yeast. Very balanced and drinkable.

    Yeasts have varied with ECY08, ECY14, ECY46, Bootleg Biology Saison Parfait, Bootleg Biology Mad Fermentationist Blend, Omega Saisonstein, Omega Saison II (Blaugies) and am using ECY03 in a beer I am brewing today. Most of these I was hoping to get a good base then add in Lacto and Brett in future batches to get the tart and funk that I am looking for but have not gotten that solid base down yet. My favorites to date have been ECY08 and Saison Parfait. I am also not against pitching multiple strains or blends or even blending with a lambic style beer to get some of the characteristics I am looking for.

    Malt is usually Pils, Wheat, Vienna and Munich usually 50/20/20/10. ABV generally in the 4.5 to 6.0 range.

    Hops I bitter with Magnum and add in some Styrian Golding near the end of the boil. Have not dry hopped in the past.
  9. jbakajust1

    jbakajust1 Crusader (777) Aug 25, 2009 Oregon

    @OddNotion might I suggest taking a portion of the unfermented wort, say 0.75-1.0 gallons, and pitching the dregs from a couple bottles of a preferred Wild you like (even from Tired Hands), letting it go for 2 weeks, then blend back into the Saison fermented main batch for packaging. I did that a few times with RR sours and really enjoyed the results. It was a nice tartness and mild funk, and the base Saison came through really nicely.
    Jasonja1474 likes this.
  10. OddNotion

    OddNotion Defender (600) Nov 1, 2009 New Jersey

    Not a bad idea, I have a couple of 1 gallon growlers that need a use anyway. When doing this, about how many ibus did your base beer have? I think that may be part of the balance I am missing as most beers that I sour tend to get overly sour.
    Jasonja1474 likes this.
  11. jbakajust1

    jbakajust1 Crusader (777) Aug 25, 2009 Oregon

    Looking back at the blog posts for those beers I went with 15-18 IBUs. Oddly enough, I would expect that level of IBUs to allow for more souring than I got. I had bottles of the Witbier in the cellar for like 5 years and it never got tarter or funkier. It will also depend on which beers you use for your dregs. The strains that they use in their beers and the IBUs they use will effect the tartness of your beer. Since you enjoy the ones from TH, I would go with a couple bottles worth of dregs from them into one gallon of unfermented and unpitched wort.

    You could also shoot for the same IBUs that TH uses.

    Another option is to pull off 0.75 gallons of the wort just as the boil starts, before you add the hops, chill, and pitch the bottles into that. Do the remainder as normal aiming for 5 IBUs higher than TH does. No hops in the small batch gives the lacto more sour power, and the higher IBUs in the main batch should stop the lacto after blending. If you pitch unhopped wort with Lacto plantarum and add it to the hopped batch it will definitely stop.
    OddNotion likes this.
  12. skleice

    skleice Aspirant (299) Aug 6, 2015 Connecticut

    My goals are to simply continue to hone a handful of styles that I've been focusing on that will eventually become my house beers. My NEIPA, Amber, Brown, Imperial Stout & Milk Stout are really coming along nicely.

    At some point this year, I'd also like to brew a proper lager.

    The year turned out to be a bit of a meandering. I was dealing with an off flavor associated with rice malt. This pushed me to move to millet based beers that I generally don't like. So, this put a big pause on my goals. However, the off flavor was resolved and I've been able to carry on with using rice as a primary fermentable.

    My American brown ale & milk stout are the biggest successes. They could be left as is, but I will probably tweak some tiny things here or there.

    The amber is ok, but nowhere near where I want it (I think I have too many malts going on and things are muddy).

    The Imperial Stout is decent but I've been keeping at 8%. I will be brewing a 10% version shortly, planning on bumping the roastiness and body.

    The NEIPAs have been inconsistent. Some have been really good and others totally disappointing. I think my hopping schedules and O2 mitigation are strong, but I'm still dialing in the grain bill. It's tough to achieve the body and mouthfeel with these gluten free grains. I prefer the rice flavor, but it has an even lower protein content than millet. I cannot use wheat, spelt, flaked barely, etc, so it is a challenge. I've been using quinoa, but it's only a small protein boost and too much can bring out that grassy quinoa flavor.

    Finally, I did brew a legit lager. It was not mind blowing, but it was fermented cool and properly lagered. It was clear, crisp and clean and did not last long in the keg.
    mushroomcloud, SABERG, Davl22 and 3 others like this.
  13. jbakajust1

    jbakajust1 Crusader (777) Aug 25, 2009 Oregon

    Could you run with a healthy dose of Flaked Oats? More protein and stable haze.
    skleice likes this.
  14. riptorn

    riptorn Zealot (532) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    Missed my wanna-do's except to stop buying malt w/o plans for using it before it gets tired.
    With a few weeks left in 2021, maybe I'll get some more malt and run the table. :astonished: :grin:
  15. skleice

    skleice Aspirant (299) Aug 6, 2015 Connecticut

    For sure, I use gf flaked oats, but the % has a tipping point on head retention and haze.
  16. GormBrewhouse

    GormBrewhouse Zealot (536) Jun 24, 2015 Vermont

    No idea if I had goals, but, highlights were learning to use some fruits better and why to avoid/not grow for beer.
    Bought special roast for the first time which really makes my nut brown shine, and meeting a younger brewer wanna be that is super interested in brewing, helping me and becomes another brewer pal.

    all in all another good season
    Eggman20, MrOH, OddNotion and 3 others like this.
  17. butterygold

    butterygold Initiate (50) May 12, 2020 Spain

    Oooof, here was my post on that thread:

    After my first year of brewing I've learned a fair deal and plan on learning a lot more.

    In 2021 I would like to:
    1. Improve knowledge and technique with watery chemistry and fining
    2. Stop brewing NEIPAs until I can upgrade equipment. I will focus on West Coast IPAs that don't seem to oxidize on me
    3. Find a way to better control sediment in the bottling process
    4. Improve yeast knowledge and pitching technique

    Not much progress...
    1. Water chemistry 0, fining a bit, as I've started using Irish moss and Campden a little.
    2. Stop brewing NEIPAs - no choice here. The quality IPA continues to gallop just beyond my reach. I went back and rebrewed my first-ever IPA and, while good, it missing a hit of pine up front that I was looking for. It's more like a hoppy amber, which is a style I like, so not too bad.
    3. Sediment - Yes! I have this well under control and rarely have floaties these days.
    4. Yeast - yes and no. My journal has more and more detailed notes and on the last beer I brewed I paid more attention than ever to adequate pitching rates and fermenting conditions/times.

    The balance of 2021 is non-hoppy styles great, hoppy styles not so much. Many of you have pointed out that my equipment limits are a big reason behind this (BIAB and bottles). I just tried a cranberry sour and, humbly speaking, it is excellent given my setup. The bad thing was that due to a slow fermentation with Philly Sour and back problems that I am having, it was not ready for Thanksgiving (we drank one anyway, but it had only been in the bottle for 5 days).
    It is somewhat comforting to read all your posts and that some of you wily vets still have some issues with getting the perfect version of the desired style.

    I don't mean to sound sappy, but I really value the camaraderie and willingness to help on this site. I hate to admit it, but I feel a bit burnt out on brewing right now and am going to take a step back for a while. I am travelling to the states for Christmas and am really looking forward to diving into all the craft beer Seattle has to offer. I don't envision myself brewing again until spring/summer if... In any case, I plan to keep checking in from time to time and keep learning all I can.

    Enjoy your holidays!
  18. skleice

    skleice Aspirant (299) Aug 6, 2015 Connecticut

    Happy Holidays, Bro. Hope u enjoy some down time.

    FWIW - dealing with water chemistry will prob really help your IPA/NEIPA fight. It seems overwhelming at first, but after a brew or 2 it's second nature. Pretty cheap too, other than a decent pH meter.
  19. rocdoc1

    rocdoc1 Aspirant (295) Jan 13, 2006 New Mexico

    My goal for 2021 was very simple. Get over my unexplainable reluctance to re-start brewing after a 3 year break. In 2018 we moved so all my gear got packed, unpacked and stashed. Then I developed some health issues that made beer pretty much off limits. But by early spring I had assembled the ingredients, by June I had all my equipment re assembled and cleaned. By August I had 4 different beers on tap from 2 10 gallon batches and they were all keepers, my wife helped kill a keg of Centennial/Columbus IPA in no time. By September 2 of the 4 kegs were empty and then we took off for a few months. But I'm stoked and when we get back in January or February I plan on refilling the pipeline.
    Another issue was that now I'm brewing at 6200', I wasn't sure how that would affect brewing, and I'm not used to the water I brew with, These things and others made me doubt the beer would turn out drinkable so I kept putting off brewing and spent more time on my other hobbies
    SABERG, Applecrew135, riptorn and 8 others like this.
  20. Eggman20

    Eggman20 Initiate (84) Feb 14, 2017 Minnesota

    Well 2021 was the least amount of beer I've brewed so that was kind of a downer. I've now bought a house that I am fixing up and will be moved into early next year so 2022 I will be back to brewing more regularly!

    I did meet my goal of brewing smaller batches which has dropped my quantity quite a bit. Also had good luck with some 4% session ipa's (especially liked the one I added some Rye malt to). Also used oak cubes in a stout for the first time and the first taste of that batch was quite good. I think the base recipe was one of my best so now that I have space again I will putting it into a true barrel sometime next spring.
    OddNotion, PortLargo, skleice and 4 others like this.
  21. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,563) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    How small did you go (e.g., 1 gallon batches)?

    It essentially takes the same amount of time to brew a batch so was brewing small worth it to you in this regard?

    Eggman20, GormBrewhouse and rocdoc1 like this.
  22. rocdoc1

    rocdoc1 Aspirant (295) Jan 13, 2006 New Mexico

    I never understood the small batch concept back when I had friends and neighbors to help empty kegs, even now I brew 10 gallon batches but less often. I dry hop each keg differently or add stuff like coffee or vanilla to get 2 very different beers from each batch so I'm not stuck drinking the same thing for weeks or months but the idea of spending most of a day to have a dozen bottles of beer is baffling to me
  23. Applecrew135

    Applecrew135 Initiate (52) Jul 18, 2012 Pennsylvania

    I did not set any goals for this past year, but none-the-less, it's been a pretty consequential year in brewing for me. Having been affected (really, become totally dis-interested with the hazy hop-juice IPA scene), I decided to branch out and expand my homebrewing horizons. The biggest success (and shocking surprise) I had was with the Averagely Perfect Kolsch, which I totally nailed. I had brewed a hefeweizen at the same time, but the Kolsch was the star. Many thanks to Vikeman and everyone who contributed! Simply delightful!

    My ex-brother-in-law, who teaches a brewing science class at a university here in PA, was really impressed with it. As we discussed the brewing process at length, I became more interested in my brewing water, which I had never really paid much attention to. It tastes good and makes a decent beer! The water is a bottled spring water from the local grocery chain. I chased down the manufacturer and was able to obtain a water chemistry report which I shared with him.

    It was no surprise to him that my brewing water was very similar to water in Pilzen, which explained why the Kolsch was so good. So I learned more about water chemistry and am applying that to my homebrewing. So far, I have noticed that my results are more closely hitting my target numbers in BrewCalc, which I am quite pleased with.

    I'm finishing out this year with the Averagely Perfect Dubbel, which I hope is a success. Will be popping the first bottle on Christmas Eve with the fam.

    Happy holidays to all!
  24. Eggman20

    Eggman20 Initiate (84) Feb 14, 2017 Minnesota

    Smallest batch was 2.5 gallons but usually aimed around 3 to 3.5 gallons. I enjoy the process of brewing and a wide variety of styles so for me I am not worried about maximizing my time to beer ratio. I also had some equipment limitations as I wasn't able to use my mash tun so I did BIAB in my 8 gallon kettle so that made it tough to go much bigger on any high abv beers. I'll still brew some larger batches but I need to do a better job managing my inventory to reasonable levels and this has helped a lot.
  25. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,563) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Not that I would encourage you to do what I do but....

    Later today I will be meeting two friends for happy hour at a local craft brewery and as gifts (I will be putting a Christmas bow on these) I will be giving each a mix-a-six of my homebrewed beers. In three weeks I will be attending a Christmas Party with friends and I will be bringing a case (24 bottles) of homebrew to that party.

    My personal "inventory problem" is that even when brewing 5 gallon batches I have difficulty meeting 'customer demands'.

    Best of luck with your new house!

  26. GormBrewhouse

    GormBrewhouse Zealot (536) Jun 24, 2015 Vermont

    I’m right there with Jack. One year I brewed 52 batches in a year. Yep 1 a week. Even with that. Volume, just never got every thing that everybody wanted. So now I brew much less and immediate fam and friends are content.
  27. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,563) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Cheers to you here!
    GormBrewhouse and Applecrew135 like this.
  28. butterygold

    butterygold Initiate (50) May 12, 2020 Spain


    ...and here I am complaining about three batches in 6 weeks.
    GormBrewhouse and Applecrew135 like this.
  29. Merlyn

    Merlyn Initiate (44) Jan 17, 2021 Michigan

    ~I did fix the cold side oxidation problem. It massively helped, especially with hoppier beers.
    ~I've taken chemistry seriously, to the point where I refuse to brew if I'm out of CaCl or something. I use distilled water or well water depending on where and how much the water profile needs to move.
    ~Still working on not drinking my beer too fast :stuck_out_tongue:
    ~I don't filter. I'm considering fining with gelatin but filtering seems like a pain.

    Not bad!
  30. jbakajust1

    jbakajust1 Crusader (777) Aug 25, 2009 Oregon

    Gelatin is simple to use if kegging. Heat the water, stir in the gelatin, dump into sanitized keg, purge keg with CO2, fill keg through the dip tube, inject CO2 through dip tube to mix gelatin into beer, put beer in keezer, let it chill and carbonate, pour off first pint, drink clear beer.
  31. utahbeerdude

    utahbeerdude Devotee (419) May 2, 2006 Utah

    Sadly, I’ve only made one beer this year, and that was back in January! It wasn’t until April that I ran out of home brew, though.

    There are various reasons for the drop-off, not the least of which is a general COVID-induced funk. However, I recently put together a recipe for a Brown Ale, which I hope get brewed before the end of the year, weather permitting.

    Here’s to a better 2022 for everyone!
  32. jbakajust1

    jbakajust1 Crusader (777) Aug 25, 2009 Oregon

    I haven't really brewed much the past few years. 2021 I did 3 beers in November and December. Happy with how they turned out. Wit, Saison, Winter Warmer. Fixed my leaking kegerator CO2 as well.