As I have done every year (save one) since its inception, I headed over to the annual Urbana Beer and Chili cook off in Downtown Urbana. My expectations are never really high because of the usual things that go along with running such an event in a college town. It is promoted by Jay Goldberg Events, the owners of the canopy club if I understand correctly. It is more or less worked by volunteers who know little to nothing about the beverages they are serving, but there is a decent selection (I believe all coming from Premium Brands distributor). It has been held in the parking garage in downtown Urbana for the last few years and, although it was a beautiful day, I got fairly sunburned waiting in line, which brings me to one of my major gripes about this event.
I like to buy tickets in advance. One has to pay a “convenience fee” if they purchase online. The fee plus the ticket amounts to more than if I were to buy the tickets at the door. Fine. They need to cover some kind of costs for providing stuff online. I can accept that. I can also accept that every year I get there early and STILL never get the tasting glass that they offer to the first N people that arrive. The tasting glass issue was remedied this year, I got my first one ever. I was pleased about that.
The other fairly significant issue is that they either
A. Don’t have many chili options
B. The chili runs out before everyone gets inside
This year that was surprisingly different. Actually, this year the chili was more satisfying than the beer for me. Don’t ge tme wring, the beer was great but there were only a few things that I’d never had before. Most notably, there was a pretty good pear cider that I’d never had and several other belgian ales that I’d always been too cheap to buy a bottle of myself. Other than that everything else was either old hat for me or just not my style.
Overall I’d have to say that even though the organization and execution of the event is criminally inefficient, it’s still a “should do” in and around the Champaign-Urbana area.
A few things that you can expect if you’ve never been before:
A very long line to get in if you get there early.
They won’t let you in on time. Expect to get in at the earliest 20 minutes after the flyers say it will start.
Chili has been hit or miss in the past (although I’d give them an A for chili this year (2008)
Chili will run out way before the beer
All of the beers on the list will not be available
It’ll be crowded
It’ll likely be fun if you like to taste beer.
It’s the only event of its kind in the area so you might as well at least check it out.
Some things to look out for:
MAKE SURE to hit up the local home brew club table. It’s probably going to be the best beer at the place.
Hit up the tables with the “$1” or “two ticket” tastings. They have the more unique and, in my opinion, better tastings.
Probably one of the sharpest, most rude, envelope pushing shows on TV. Ever. I’ve been a fan since the beginning….and it seems to only get better.
I decided it was finally time to brew one of my favorite styles for myself. I jumped in with both feet on this one, what I hope to be a VERY hoppy Pale Ale, which I’ve so creatively titled “Buraglio’s Pale Ale”.
The recipe can be found on Google Documents here.
Here is an image of it fermenting after 2 days. This was my first batch ever that actually needed a blow off tube rather than a simple airlock.
From the recipe you one can see that I added a lot of not only high IBU hops, but just a lot of hops in general.
As an aside, I’ve never used whole hop cones before (thanks to Kat Wefel for the hookup of her home grown Nugget hops). They’re a little different to deal with, needing to be strained before the move can be made to the primary fermentation vessel.
I’m still undecided regarding the dry hopping. I may wait for version 2 to give that a try or maybe I’ll get ambitious, only time will tell.
I’ve long been a fan of Found Item Clothing, they have some really obscure shirts that aren’t found elsewhere and are pretty diligent about reproducing them as closely to the original as possible. I have several of their shirts and have always been very happy with both the quality and the service.
In keeping with their tradition of finding cool ideas from (often underrated) 80’s movies, they’ve introduced the “Death Before Disco” sweatshirt from Stripes. Stripes is one of my favorite movies from my youth (along with most other Bill Murray comedies).
I will very likely be ordering this or requesting it for xmas.
This seems to come around every year or so and I always enjoy it.
This is AWESOME! I can’t believe I missed this when it was aired.
I always enjoyed watching Evan Tanner fight and really liked his aggressive style. He had a great ground-and-pound game but was a much more well rounded fighter as well as an interesting person than what most MMA fans saw. Anyone that read his personal blog on any regular basis saw that he was both a charismatic and gifted person and troubled individual. I never had a chance to meet him in person but the game and the world will surely miss such a unique individual.
I got my keg order in and it looks like I can fit 2 kegs plus a co2 dispenser in the beer fridge. The local homebrew club got such a great deal on the kegs that I decided to put off switching to all grain and spend the money on a kegging system. I was able to get five used 5 gallon kegs plus new seals for $80 through our local club (we did a huge order).
I’m pretty excited. I think I’ll put my oktoberfest in there if I can get the co2 in time.
Let the kegging begin!
In the last few weeks I’ve been in what can only be described as a mission to taste as much good beer as I can. On the short list, all of the stuff at the the Morgan St. Brewery in STL
(the dark wheat was excellent, as was the altbier).
I’ve also been on a Belgian Ale kick, having just bottled mine a few days ago. The Hoppin’ Frog Belgian Strong ale is a favorite of mine.
It’s also Oktoberfest season, always my favorite time of year. My Oktoberfest was made late so it won’t really be ready until December but it should be good as well.
I’d like to get my 15 Gallon kettle going so I can make some double batches and get my kegs going as well but that will likely come a little later.