Weekend Brew Report – My Iron Brewer Entry

About to boilover

About to boilover

Yesterday I brewed my entry for Round 6 of Iron Brewer Batch 2.

But let’s back up a minute. What’s Iron Brewer?

Iron Brewer is a homebrew contest that I first read about last year and have been interested in participating in since the beginning.  Due to some e-mail issues and schedule conflicts, I was never able to get into a round in the first iteration of the contest, but lucky for me they decided to do it again and finally everything came together and I managed to get in to the very last round.

The concept of Iron Brewer is similar to TV’s Iron Chef; for each round, 3 ingredients are chosen, generally a specific grain, a hop variety, and some other flavor element. Here are some examples:

Batch 1, Round 1: 

  • Rye Malt
  • Simcoe Hops
  • Dark Belgian Candi Sugar

Batch 1, Championship Round:

  • Chili Peppers
  • Horizon Hops
  • Crystal Malt, 120L

To be honest, I’d thought about entering previously but not felt inspired by the ingredient choices.  However, this time the ingredient list spoke right to my love of bizarre brewing:

Batch 2, Round 6:

  • Melanoidin Malt
  • Galena Hops
  • Rose Hips

Now I’ve used Melanoidin malt, and it’s nice. The malt is kilned specially to develop the melanoidin compounds that give beers a rich malty flavor and full mouthfeel. Galena hops were new to me, but a quick read on them told me that they were a pungent, high-alpha hop but they also were described as having fruity, citrusy, candy-like flavors. The word “candy” stuck out to me and then the next ingredient, rose hips, made me think of the rosewater flavored Turkish Delight I’ve bought from time to time at various shops in the Albany Park area of Chicago.

Turkish Delight, if you’ve never had it (and have never read The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe, in which it plays a part), is a gelatinous candy of Turkish origin. It’s sweet and mouthfilling, sometimes rosewater-flavored, often containing nuts.

A beery interpretation of Turkish Delight? Why not? I signed up immediately and was lucky enough to get in. I had my recipe designed and my ingredients ordered within 24 hours.

The Iron Brewer schedule is a bit daunting. 8 weeks are allotted between the announcement and the due date. That’s not a lot of time, when you consider shipping time. Due to the holiday weekend, my ingredients were not shipped in the most timely manner, and I didn’t receive them until a week after the contest announcement. Brew day was yesterday. There are now 6 1/2 weeks left to finish this beer, bottle it, ship it and have it delivered, both to the contest organizer/judging committee and to the other brewers.

Which is another great thing about this contest. A typical homebrew competition, you submit 2 bottles, and those 2 bottles are tasted by the judges and no one else. In this competition, we the brewers get to taste each others beers, and see what the others did with the same ingredients. We get to discuss this with each other.  And we have some say in the judging as well, though minor.

Overall, I’m really excited about the challenge this presents, and the opportunity to have the results tasted by other brewers as well and get their feedback. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t most excited about the beer itself. It’s been a while since I did one of these oddball batches and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

I’ll revisit this topic in the future and post status updates on the beer & the contest as they happen. I’ll discuss my recipe and my process for this beer, and the decisions I made in designing it. I’ll give tasting notes. I’ll discuss the contest process and the tasting, which will be broadcast live via internet from the Iron Brewer website. Wish me luck! And if any of you other Iron Brewers happen to stumble across this post, say hi in the comments.


Related: Iron Brewer recipe, update

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