What Goes On At Your Local Homebrew Club Meeting: getting technical with The Stoney Creek Homebrewers

Amidst the adulation for Tully’s brew, Jim Lachman, a fourth year med student, adds, “I’m getting a little sharpie marker here,” words almost as serious as crying card cheat in the bygone, lawless West.

Weikert and Bobiak quickly offer that it likely stems from the role of the honey meshing with that of the wheat—rather than a showing of any nasty phenolic elements.

Not that anyone takes offense. The motto here is say whatever comes to mind, which is doubly instructive, in that, it says to let your palate speak for itself, while also not being afraid to speak the truth.

Arguments, when they erupt are more akin to a debate class—one run by guys who put away a healthy bit of beer on the reg and who slyly inform you about things like “palate fatigue” as those 2-3oz tasting cups start to add up.

“Just to warn you in case it’s creeping into you beer,” Lachman adds.

And that’s the night’s first foray into the more esoteric country of brewing’s intrinsically chemistry laden course, where compounds such as phenols and esthers, kicked off by the yeast during fermentation, can either make a beer great, or completely sink it.

Bill McGeeney, who introduced me to the club after I caught him scouring for ingredients at Home Sweet Homebrew in Center City, says, “There are a whole bunch of selections of yeasts for each beer. Some may have a very slow fermentation at moderate temperatures, while others may be done at higher temperature over a shorter time period. Usually, the warmer—a Belgian or Saison—will give you more flavor; with the cooler ones, like a lager, you’re not going to get much flavor—maybe just a few malty notes,” he says, reinforcing a club given: nearly anyone can drop some gems on you at any given moment.

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