What. A. Brew. Day. Literally an hour after I was telling my fiance how much I'm enjoying brewing indoors on my new electric system, the power goes out. Fantastic. Thankfully it didn't catch me at too inconvenient time during the brew day, but what a pain in the ass. I suppose I should talk about the beer before I get too far into my mishaps. I'm brewing a simplified version of the Honey Blonde I've brewed in the past. I'm switching to a single hop (Centennial), and only using a single specialty malt (C10). The one thing I always liked about that beer was the cracker-y/biscuit-y character that it had, so I changed 30% of the base malt to Marris Otter, to bring some of that character back. Other than those changes, it's the same beer.

For those that aren't aware, the hop harvest is here. Over the next month to month and a half, the hop farmers will be harvesting their 2012 crop. Now is the time to buy your hops for the year. I know it can be difficult to predict what you're going to want or need for the next twelve months, but you'll get good prices and the freshest hops right now.

There are a lot of amazing commercial and home brewed IPAs these days. Unfortunately, there are plenty that miss the mark, by a lot. I see recipes posted on the web and forums that make me shake my head in disbelief. I realized though, there's a lot that goes into making a good IPA, and it's not as easy as simply throwing 400lbs of hops at the kettle to paraphrase a commercial brewer. So let's go over some of the more important steps to brewing a good IPA, and how to fix some of the common mistakes I see.

This beer wasn't originally on the schedule. Double Jack was supposed to be the next beer I brewed, but that changed after a trip to San Diego in mid-June. Stone had just released their 10th Anniversary Ruination, and I tracked down a few bottles while I was in town. This special release of Ruination has exactly twice the hops(5lbs/bbl) and more alcohol(10.8%) than the standard Ruination. After my first sip, I knew I needed to try to clone this beer. It's definitely one of the best Imperial IPAs I've ever had.

I'm proud to call myself a home brewer, but I often get an odd look from people when I tell them so. Their response is usually : "Oh....you home brew beer. Like...... in one of those Mr. Beer things?" My answer is always a balancing act between being too direct, or not direct enough. The direct version being: "No, it's nothing like Mr. Beer. It's just like (insert local craft brewery)." But where does the stigma from home brew come from, and how can we avoid it? Let's talk about methods to legitimize your beer others eyes, and make them excited to try it.

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