Most of you know that I have been brewing my own beer this year. My wonderful, generous sister is to thank as she is the one who got me a Mr. Beer kit for Christmas. To be honest, I got the kit and figured I would brew maybe a couple batches and probably go months before using it again. The only home-brew I had ever tried was a stout back in college, and I really did not like it. I'm not sure if it was a bad beer, or if I was simply so used to mass-produced watered down beer that I could not appreciate good beer at the time. But, based on that experience, I really did not think I would like home-brewed beer that much.
Boy, was I wrong. Of course, the nice thing about brewing your own beer is that you control what kind of beer you get. It takes a bit of trial and error, and you will most likely make mistakes (eg: Girly Berry; Maple Brown), but if you follow the process and stick to what you like, most likely you will end up with great beers (eg: Eric's Red; Wetta Blonde; Phat & Tyred; etc ... etc ... etc ... )
So far, if I just counted right, I have brewed 21 batches of beer. Those 21 batches have given me 16 distinctly different beers. Currently, I have 8 different types of SheppyBrew beers in my beer fridge which are theoretically drinkable right now, and 2 batches my fermentors which can be drinkable in the next couple of weeks. My batch sizes are smaller than most "real" home-brewers as the Mr. Beer fermentors hold just over 2 gallons, whereas most home-brewers do 5 gallon batches. Basically, every batch is a case of 12oz beers. But, even with my small - size batches, I have brewed over 45 gallons of beer this year, which I think is alot. Federal law allows and individual to home-brew 100 gallons a year and a household to brew 200 gallons a year. From my beer forums, I know some people who go over the 200 gallons a year limit (shhhh.... don't tell the feds) , so at least I'm not as obsessed as I could be.
My signature beer is Eric's Red, a deep- redish- amber beer with a heavenly malty, almost sweet flavor with very low bitterness. The thick creamy head on this beer is absolutely amazing. Even though this is my favorite (or at least in the top 2), it is also the one I have tinkered with the most. I have made 4 batches of Eric's Red, and each one has been a bit different. I have one that I have to bottle this weekend, which I am sure will be the best one yet. I also really like Phat & Tyred, which started out as a Fat Tire clone, but which I modified enough that it really isn't a clone anymore. It depends on my mood which one I like better and any particular day.
Out of the people with whom I have shared my beers, my Blonde beers have been the favorites. My very first beer was a simple beer recipe that came with the Christmas gift, Classic American Blonde Ale, which was a huge hit with everyone I shared it with. It was, of course, this beer that made me fall in love with the hobby, so obviously, I liked it as well, but it is not the kind of beer I want associated with SheppyBrew. It was a good beer, but not a great beer, so I followed up on a beer that beer drinkers could appreciate in which I added more body and hop flavor, Wetta Blonde, and it has been a big hit as well. Not only do others like it, but I think it is a great beer too.
My most recent beer is one I call Rocktoberfest Ale (in honor of the Rockies who just made the playoffs for only the third time in their history). This one is a deep-amber, almost dark brown with modest bitterness. It had a little higher alcohol content than most of my beers, and its dark malty flavor with the extra little alcohol kick serves well to warm you up on a cold October night while watching the baseball playoffs. Its carbonation is pretty low, which I will have to fix next year, but it is also a great beer. It is considerably darker than your typical oktoberfest lager, but I did not make it for the typical oktoberfest drinker.
So, out of my 16 different styles, I would say at least 4 will be part of my regular lineup (Eric's Red, Phat & Tyred Ale, Wetta Blonde, and Dragon Spit). I plan to always have bottles of each of these ready to drink (NOTE to self: Need to make some more Dragon Spit). At least 4 will definitely be repeated seasonable brews (Whisky Wife Wheat, Gringo Cervesa,X-Mas Ale, Rocktoberfest Ale). Whisky Wife Wheat has the potential of making the regular lineup. It is too soon to tell on Vanilla Porter and Tommy Hawk APA, but I need an APA and a Porter or Stout in the mix, so their chances are pretty good if I like them at all.
And of course, I will always be looking to try new recipes (if I can ever fit them into the schedule having just committed to at least 8 and probably 10 beers to regularly brew). I know I am going to try a DoppleBock and an Irish Stout.
If you made it this far in the blog entry without getting totally bored, you might be interested to see the artwork for my beer labels. You can check them out by going to my public facebook page.