February – March period is always a very busy month for our club, and this year was no exception.
Beerfest for the second consecutive year was held at the warehouse. Two years ago we brought it back into the city after having it held a various country locations so that more member could get involved. It was thought at the time it may have given more members the opportunity to attend and participate with our competition.
This year we had a terrific role up of members and also outside volunteers who generously gave of their time to judge and steward. Hopefully those that did come along enjoyed their participation.
The committee did a great job with the promotion and organisation of Beerfest. Special thanks goes out to Tom Cooper and John Keske for their tireless work to ensure that Beerfest was a success.
The weather for Steinbrew was more conducive this year and the heat less extreme. Linton organised the Bendigo Brewers to join with The Melbourne Brewers to experience the weekend under the stars. Both Linton and John Keske brewed, so the outcome of these brews will be on tap at this year’s dinner.
After missing a year, Melbourne Brewers are back in the Cryer Malt SMASH Challenge as part of Good Beer Week in May. The grain and hops were supplied by Cryer Malt, we were given Bairds Marris Otter malt and Chinook hops. The other local home brew clubs came away with other grain and hops. Each club is to brew up their SMASH brew and the public will decide the best beer on the day. The reasoning behind the competition is to make the general public aware of the home brew clubs with the idea clubs may pick up some new members. If you would like to take part in this brew off please let me know.
Both at Beerfest and Steinbrew the new club logo on printed shirts and T -Shirts were on show. Thanks again to Dave Barkla for organising and making this happen. If there is enough interest a re- run can be organised .
Look forward to catching up at this month’s meeting at Pete’s warehouse Wednesday night
The next meeting, 27th March.
Will be back once again at Petes warehouse in Ferntree Gully.
Brewer of the month.
This months brewer is…Erik Schwab
Tell us a little about who you are.
I grew up in Norway and after spending some time in the army came to Melbourne to study and ended up meeting my future wife here with just months before finishing up. We moved to Norway for a few years but settled down back in Melbourne. We’ve got two young boys at 4 & 6 years old. I work in Procurement at Goodyear.
When did you join the Melbourne Brewers and what do you like about being in the Club?
I joined the Melbourne Brewers about 8 years ago, but had a bit of a hiatus with the arrival of our boy. Initially it was getting tips and learning from more experienced brewers that brought me into the club (my wife was tired of hearing me talk about brewing). It’s the community and great social aspects that kept me coming back.
When and why did you decide to give brewing a try?
It was my brother in law that first introduced me to home-brewing. During a trip back to Norway we visited a local microbreweries and a farm with a brewshed from the 13th century. Later I brewed a batch of IPA together with him and he gave me some samples of his previous batches which were, to my surprise, very different from the less than palatable yellow swill imitating beer I was given at uni. I realised that homebrew could be really good. He gave me a copy of Randy Mosher’s Radical Brewing and I picked up a starter kit from the local store. I have always had an interest in cooking, so the step into brewing wasn’t that scary.
Do you brew kit, extract, all grain or a combination?
Every batch from my second one has been all grain.
How many batches are you up to?
I am up to about 50 or so batches, but have managed to loose my initial brew log so I am not entirely sure.
What’s your favourite style to brew?
My favourite style is a hoppy pale ale or amber.
What about your favourite style to drink?
This is a hard question – it varies from the season and the setting. I probably drink mostly American Pale Ale, but also really enjoy a stout, saison or refreshing lager on a hot day.
Do you have a favourite store bought beer?
The one in front of me. I do try to support independent breweries when possible.
What system do you brew with?
I have recently upgraded from a single pot on the stove top to a 40 liter Guten (a big boilover that resulted in some scorched marks on the new stove top that are still there helped get me over the line – any tips on getting rid of the scorched wort would be appreciated).
What’s your favourite brewing gadget/tool?
A temperature controlled fermentation chamber lets me brew year round and probably made the biggest impact on the taste of my beer, but going to kegging was the best for my brewing – bottling was keeping me from brewing.
What’s been your best highlight since you started brewing?
I haven’t been brewing for competitions yet, but having friends and family who drink pale lagers go back to the taps for seconds and thirds of my beer instead of the esky is pretty rewarding.
What about your biggest disaster?
One year I figured I’d brew a Christmas Ale -full of spices and dark molasses flavours. I rushed the bottling to get it ready for Christmas and it wasn’t fully fermented. Having to call all my friends and collegues I’d given some bottles to explain that they had to open the gushers outside or bin them was quite humbling. If it’s not ready or right – don’t serve it.
What’s your favourite brewery to spend some time at.
We don’t go out that much, but the best memories is from going to Little Creatures in Freo when I spend a summer in WA some 15 years ago.
What would be your best tip for others?
Have fun brewing and don’t stress – beer wants to be beer.
What do you love about brewing that keeps you picking up the paddle?
I love the process of making beer from scratch – having some tasty beers on tap is a pretty good reward too.
When you’re not brewing, how do you spend the rest of your spare time?
I enjoy puttering around the garden/veggie patch and have also taken up smoking meats. The busy social life of young boys keep us busy most weekends as well.
Our sponsors put up some fantastic prizes this year in support of the Home Brewing Community. Lets show them some love back and get behind them when you next do your shopping or recommend a store to a new brewer. It’s these sponsors that keep our competitions running so lets return the favour and support them any way you can!
The Old Dick.
Since 1999, the Club Brewer of the Year trophy has been an unusual mechanical device, affectionately known as “The Old Dick”.
The trophy was built about 22 years ago by former Member Dick Seville who was a popular and eccentric Member of the Melbourne Brewers and the ABAV which preceded it. “The Old Dick” is designed to hold a 750ml bottle of beer and to gradually tilt it in order to pour the contents without disturbing the sediment, thereby obtaining a crystal clear beer.
Dick an engineer by trade would regularly take the device with him when dining at BYO restaurants and drinking his own beers, mostly bottle conditioned brown ales.
Longstanding Members will remember Dick as the quietly spoken gentleman who would bring a large plate of cheese and onion sandwiches to every club meeting which would be unveiled late at each meeting after the standard Club nibbles had been consumed. These would rapidly be devoured and were a traditional part of Club meetings for many years.
Dick was an inventive guy having a hand in building one of the first commercial washing machines ever built in Australia. Unfortunately, Dick passed away several years ago but much of his brewing equipment was donated and subsequently auctioned by the Club so many current Members have equipment designed and built by Dick and his legacy lives on.
The Old Dick was donated by Dick’s family and Colin Penrose. So next time you see “The Old Dick” remember that it, like our Club, has a rich history built on the efforts of eccentric good blokes like Dick Seville.
The Old Dick is a prestigious award given to the Club Brewer of the Year, based on all the members points tallied from all competitions entered. First, Second and Third all generate points to determine who gets to be this years Brewer of the Year.
Club Social Night.
Your membership comes with these great benefits plus many others so support the club and help keep it going.
(This is a great saving over an individual subscription)
Meetings are held on the last Wednesday of each month at different locations. They are a great place to socialise, listen to talks, participate in Club competitions, BBQ’s and of course taste lots of beer plus many other things.
A monthly newsletter outlining upcoming Club events and competitions as well as general Melbourne Brewers information and photos. This gets distributed by email a few days before Club meetings.
Members are also advised of upcoming events by email. Our member email distribution is also used as a forum to discuss topics of interest and to provide brewing information amongst members.
Periodically, Members volunteer to have a Brew Day at their brewery and invite Club Members or guys who may be interested in brewing to have a look at how they brew, equipment used etc. Brew Days are a good way for novice brewers to learn how to make all-grain beer.
Every so often, days are organised for a group of members to build or assemble equipment e.g. convert kegs to boilers, make immersion chillers, yeast stir-plates, counter pressure bottle fillers, temperature controllers.
Events & Excursions
Periodically the Club organises events/trips e.g. trip to Maltings, Melbourne microbreweries, weekends away at country pubs, fishing trip.
Annual Club events include the Annual Dinner, Xmas party, Steinbeer weekend and Beerfest weekend (Club run comp).
Club buys (Bulk buys) of equipment offer significant savings to members.
There is a large range of brewing books and equipment available for loan by members.
Things to keep you busy.
Get a brew happening for:
6th of April, Yarra Valley Brewers Belgian Beerfest
24th of April internal Get Your Kit Off competition.
7th of July, Westgates Stout Extravaganza
October, Baysides Oktoberfest
Go to our Calendar and sync it with your own so you never miss an event.
Get some reading done after you buy some books through our book depository link.
Last but far from least, help keep the Club alive and don’t forget to pay your membership fees for this financial year