Alright, this year will be a great one. We are expecting our baby girl at the beginning of June, me and my wife are currently attending college (I just started, she only has a year to go), and I have decided to get my BJCP certification.
The certification came to mind after listening to becomingabeerjudge.com. I found out about his new podcast from Brulosopher’s website, and after his second podcast, I knew that the BJCP certification was what I wanted. Not only will it teach me to understand the different styles of beer, I will be able to participate as a judge and give back to the AZ homebrewing community. If you would like to know what the certification entails, check out becomingabeerjudge’s second podcast, he does a great job of explaining everything.
I also found out a few days ago that my all amarillo pale ale won a gold medal at this years Great Arizona Homebrew Competition. It pretty cool to have won because I only entered it for the judges feedback. I am anxious to get those notes in the mail. I have one bottle left that I have been saving it to drink while I go through them. It got a score of 40.5.
In an effort to save some cash (so I can buy more shiny!) I have been gathering up some items to help me start buying in bulk.
Hops will be my main focus because I believe this is the most expensive ingredient, after yeast, that can be easily stored. I have read many post over at the HBT forums but their article on Cheap and Easy Hop Storage really made it easy with a great explanation.
What I purchased:
- Ziploc Vacuum Starter Kit – I got this at Walmart for less that $5, but you can get it on Amazon as an add-on item for the same price.
- Food Saver Jar Sealer – Make sure you buy the correct size for the jars you choose to buy. I have regular jars so I bought the regular sized jar sealer.
- Jars – Got these at Walmart too. These were sitting around from when I got a wild hair up my ass and tried making some strawberry jam… I have the half pint size, but you can choose what size works for you as long as the jar sealer matches.
- Vacuum Sealer – I picked this up refurbished and was a great deal for $24.95.
Both are easy to use. For the jar, you just place your hops inside, place the lid (not the screw on part) on top of the jar, press the jar sealer over the lid and the jar, put the Ziplock Sealer on the jar sealer and pump away. You know it is sealed when you try and remove the jar sealer and the lid stays put.
The vacuum sealer is also simple. The one I got came with some bags and I was able to cut them down to smaller sizes and seal them up. I would recommend you leave about 2 inches of space above the hops in the bag to make it a little easier to seal. I will probably end up just using the Rival for long term storage and other food items around the house (I sealed up some steaks with it already, just freeze them a bit before). To seal the bags, just fill it up with your hops or food item and lay it over the orange seal strip with the open end inside the vacuum area. Press the lid down with both hands until the hands free light comes on and wait for it to seal. It’s a bit loud, but it works and it was a great price.
Hopefully I can find someone to split some hops with so they can be ordered by the pound. At $3-$4 an ounce at the LHBS, buying hops in bulk can really save some money. Here’s an example: At HopsDirect.com, a pound of Amarillo Hop pellets and a pound of Centennial Hop pellets plus shipping (to AZ), totals $47.40. Two pounds of hops is 32 oz’s total, so that is ONLY $1.48 a ounce! I don’t think I could use up 2 lbs of hops in a timely manner, but having a partner would really help. If no one wants to split them I can always store them for later. Cheers!