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Geoff Engel
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You'd have to be really careful with that, 'cause the TTB (Tax and Trade Bureau, the AT part of ATF that didn't get spun off into Homeland Security) frowns mightily on anything that comes even close to homebrewers selling their beer. What you might do instead is look up a friendly local brewery and a local homebrew club, set up a homebrew competition with the entry fees as a donation to Child's Play. Winner could, for example, have their beer brewed by the brewery as a seasonal special. If I had a brewery running at the moment, I'd totally help sponsor that.
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While I was a head brewer at several SoCal brewpubs (Huntington Beach Beer Company and the former Riverside Brewing Company) I noticed that except for a few bright spots (Port Brewing, maybe Stone, TAPS, my breweries...) SoCal beer culture is somewhat...stunted. I never figured out why--there really isn't any reason for it and when the beer down there is on it's *on*. Now I live in Oregon. It's better here.
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Any time! If there's one thing I love talking about...well, beer. I won't even charge you my consulting rates.
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The thing about mead is that it generally needs a *really* long aging period to be drinkable. Honey is an incredibly complex sugar, and it produces a wide variety of higher alcohols during fermentation--ones the human body doesn't metabolize well at all. Aging helps to dissipate them. I once made a mead that took three years to stop tasting like gasoline.
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Currently I'm...how do you say...between breweries. I am, however, listed as "Brewmaster" for Shanghai Brewery--mostly because I designed all their recipes and vetted their equipment. I've been working as a freelance international brewery consultant for the past two years, which sounds a lot more impressive than it actually is. I have, however, helped with startups in China, India, LA, New York... Before that I mostly worked for small breweries in California, such as Huntington Beach Beer Company and Hoppy Brewing Company in Sacramento. The only big brewery anyone would recognize that I worked for was Pyramid, which was my first job out of brewing school ten years ago or so.
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(Disclaimer: I'm a professional brewer and brewery consultant) I'll second the advice on cold crashing, especially if you're going to keg eventually. It'll help the yeast drop out, which means less yeast left in the beer, and a cleaner flavor. Actually, if you're going to do five gallon batches and you've got the room, I'd advise a dedicated beer fridge and something like this to control the temperature. You can keep your carboy at (for example) 68, then do a controlled crash 52-->42-->32 (or however cold the fridge will go) for the best yeast drop. That's what (on a larger scale) breweries do. If you are going to keg, I'd recommend getting one of these to carbonate. Uses a lot less CO2 than just putting head pressure on. Let me know if you need any advice.
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Aug 5, 2011