January just might be one of my favourite times of year for no other reason than the chaos of the holiday season is over and the feeling of a fresh new start is all around me. And although orders keep coming in, I suddenly feel like I have enough breathing room to allow those creative juices to flow which means it's time to create our Brew Calendar.
Most don't know this but I am the Brewmaster at Hub Town. Mark loves to brew and is very good at it but because he's in the shop 99% of the time building products, and I am a certified beer nerd with more ideas than I can pass along in a lifetime, we both agreed (unofficially) that this was the way to do things.
So, today...the 7th of January is the day I will be putting together my Brew Calendar for the year and I thought I would share with you why and how I do it just in case the idea appeals to you too.
First off...why create a brew calendar? Simple answer is, so you are drinking the beer you want to drink, when you want to drink it. Think about it...many of us love a dark, creamy, milk stout...but are you drinking that stout while mowing the lawn? If you are, GREAT...but most of us are dying in the summer heat and need a crisp, light, refreshing lawnmower beer like a kolsch or a mexican lager. Personally I would save the milk stout for today...I'm not looking to quench my thirst, just satisfy a winter comfort that comes from a full bodied beer like a stout. So planning when you will brew a beer style and how long it will need to age before you can enjoy a perfect pint of it is critical to it being ready at the right time.
Another thing to consider when building your calendar, is access to seasonal items. If you're planning to brew a raspberry wheat ale, will you want to use the imported berries found in the grocery store or are you looking to use this years' local harvest? Our 2017 Raspberry Wheat Ale was made with fresh picked (by us...what a day that was), Southern Alberta raspberries, right at the sweetest point in their growth. That mattered to us because we wanted to impart a significant amount of raspberry flavour without having to use a truckload of the precious berries. If you're planning an apple cider, waiting until the BC apple harvest may mean the difference between a good cider and an award winner.
The last thing to think about when creating your brew calendar is timing. If I save the brewing of our Christmas Ale until December, I'm likely to miss out on having a Christmas Ale at all. November and December are our busiest times of year and carving a day out for brewing is nearly impossible. So, I try to schedule that one in late October, giving the beer a little extra time to mature while taking the stress off of me, knowing I'll have something tasty for friends and family over the holidays. The same goes for the month of August for us when we take a few weeks off to enjoy some down time in the sun. Can't brew/transfer/bottle or otherwise if I'm hanging out at a campsite in Idaho :)
So now you have a few ideas on how to help you build your own brew calendar. There are some good examples of home brew calendars on the internet that show beer styles, popular months to brew those styles and the most common months people prefer to drink them. We've added a link to one we like here (cut and paste into your browser) since sharing resources is the "brewers way". Take a look for yourself and see if it can help you on your way:
We also thought it might help to show you the first draft of our 2018 Home Brew Calendar to help give you an idea of what we have planned. It may not stay this way but hey it's a good start!