Greetings, everyone.  I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

If you happened to be at the November gathering of the Society of Oshkosh Brewers, then you were fortunate to have seen an impressive turnout.  There was business discussions, a mead presentation, finalizing the Christmas Party (sign-up link below) and Chili Night.  Here’s how it sort of went down.

Shawn Lord started the night off with a toast, which was followed by a welcoming of new members and guests.  They were, Bill Schwalbach, Lori Kroening, Courtney Cerniglia, Bryce Knickelbein, Bob Ginke, Jesse & Vivienne Steinke, Shane Heling, Chad McKnight, Peter Kasprzak, Steve Mikolajczak, and Alec Kumrow.  Phew!  And 7 of them became members!!

Steve Wissink then gave us an update on the clubs funds.

After, which, it was opened up to a Q&A.  Brian Schneider is looking to plant a variety of hops and grape vines and was looking for feedback as to what types he should plant.  There were a number of hop varieties that were being mentioned and Mark Schmelling suggested he talk to Shane Coombs about grape vines.  Vivienne Steinke then asked what is the difference between a Scotch Ale and a Scottish Ale and was also wondering what kind of flavoring could be done to those beers, such as wood aging.

We then reminded everyone of the upcoming Club Only Homebrew Competition.  Jan will be Porters & Stouts and, to be able to get 2-3 oz. pours for all of those who will be judging, it is suggested that those entering should bring 6-9 bottles of their beer for sampling.  Keep your eyes out for more information on this event in another email.  A forecast of future competitions should get out on the calendar soon.

Club Brews was the next topic for the evening.  As most, if not all, of you are aware, the first Sat in May is Big Brew Day where homebrewers from all across the nation (and even other countries) gather together to brew beer.  This event is always a fun gathering and we would like to have more.  So, we are looking to have another setup for Fall 2016 that could be used as a prepping for Casks & Caskets and could also be an Iron Brewer type of event where a common recipe will be brewed for those interested.  Also, sometime this winter (a date is still being determined) the club would like to have a Lake Brew.  This event would have those involved gather on the ice and brew, possibly even using Lake Winnebago’s water.  More to come on these events.

This then led to other activities that the club is trying to get into place, mainly education.  One is a Glass presentation which would cover the variety of beer glasses out there and why they are for specific beer types.  The club is looking for volunteers to head this up and Vivienne Steinke has volunteered to talk to Shawn O’Marro about what options there might be with his contacts in the bar world.  The other education idea is an Off-Flavor tasting.  It was mentioned that the Beer Barons of Milwaukee are holding BJCP Training courses over the Fall/Winter and in Jan they will be having a Flaws/Troubleshooting class that will cover about 15-20 off-flavors.  These classes are open to all and they would like to fill this one up to make the best use of the beer needed to add the off-flavors.  There is a maximum of 20 people for the class and currently there are 7 seats left.  The class is held on Sun, Jan 4 at 8:30 at Ray’s Liquor in Milwaukee and the cost is $10.  Here’s the link to this class if you would like to go:

After that we had our Mead Presentation!  Myself, Mark Schmelling, Mike Douglas, Bryce Hinsch, Kurt Roberts, and a surprise special guest Mike Fairservice gave a presentation on what mead is.  What’s it made from, the varieties of honey, different styles of mead and the different methods for making them.  A few different honeys were passed out for everyone to sample as well as meads to sample.  Kurt Roberts and I each had a Blueberry Pomegranate Mead, Kurt’s was made using frozen juice concentrate and mine was made with juice.  Mark Schmelling had a mead made with honey harvested from his hive.  Bryce Hinsch had a sparkling Cranberry Mead.  I also had Valhalla, a metheglin, which was made with spices and fruit.  And Mike Fairservice had grand variety of meads for everyone to sample afterwards.  The members had plenty of good questions and showed a strong interest in this.  It sure seemed a hit for the night and it looks as if we will have another one of these presentations down the road.

The next topic was Beer Dinners.  We have in the past gone to Stone Cellar in Appleton to have a great meal where their chef utilized our homebrews.  This year we would like to bring that back to Oshkosh, and not at just once a year.  This way, we open up more venues and opportunities for the members to attend one of these events whereas the Stone Cellar may not have been able to work for them.  Plus, it gives a chance for the great chefs Oshkosh has to offer a chance to show off their skills.  Currently, O’Marro’s, Becket’s & Dublin’s have been suggested as being the places to first have these dinners.  Although, we will not be going to Stone Cellar this coming year, we are not taking them out of the picture.  They are still on the list but we may put that off for 2016.  Keep your eyes and ears open as this develops more.

Mike Engel then gave us a summary of Casks & Caskets.  Mike thanked everyone involved as this year’s event was the biggest yet.  Close to 400 people attended the event and the goal of $10,000 was definitely surpassed.  Congratulations to all who were a part of this great event for the Food Pantries of Oshkosh, they received a check for $12,000!!!  Well done!  There are already 3 sponsors who are on board for next year.  Now we just need to see if we can have another event.  Due to the homebrew laws in Wisconsin, we cannot charge people to drink homebrews.  Even though this event is for charity, all beers are donated by the homebrewers and no member receives any monetary compensation, the fact that tickets were charged beforehand and at the door makes this event illegal.  The Oshkosh Convention Center had received a notice from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue giving them a warning that if this were to happen again that they could lose their liquor license.  We definitely don’t want that to happen.  Fortunately, Mike has been in discussion with the Wi DoR to see what, if anything, can be done about this and they seem to be willing to hear ways that we can still run this event, but legally.  The main thing is that we don’t sell tickets beforehand nor at the door and that it must be done by donations only.  No worries just yet, the Casks & Caskets Committee is looking to see what can be done.

But back to a more positive note.  If we have the event next year, there’s a strong chance that instead of the first Sat in November for the event, it may be held on Halloween.  There was also discussions on things that could/should be done for the next one to help alleviate some of the problems/congestions and other improvements.  And a great, big THANKS! to Randy Bauer for all of the items he donated to the silent auction.  Of the ~$3,000 that the silent auction raised, close to $1,000 of that came from the item Randy donated.  Thanks again Randy for your generous gifts!

Then there was a brief (or at least it was meant to be) discussion about the Christmas Party.  The party will be on our normal meeting day & time, Dec 17 @ 7:00.  Megan Higgins had put together a few options for the Christmas Party food.  There were the options of having O’Marro’s make a dinner, the club members have a Potluck, or O’Marro’s making sandwiches with sides.  There was much discussion on this but was narrowed down to O’Marro’s making sandwiches and anyone attending is welcome to bring a dish to pass if they’d like.  There was a fee that was going to be per person but after the meeting the committee had discussed about covering the costs.  So, if you haven’t seen the email about the Christmas Party sign-up, or it may have slipped your mind, here is the link to the sign-up.  Please sign-up by the 10th.  There will also be a gift exchange.  If you want to be a part of it, bring a $10 value gift.  If you do, then you will get a gift in return.

After that, there was a reminder of the elections coming up in Jan.  There will be a few positions opening up, so if you’re interested in becoming an officer now’s the time to put your name in the hat.  Elections will be at the Jan meeting.  The positions becoming available are President, Member Coordinator, Webmaster & Secretary.

Mark Schmelling talked a bit about purchasing a barrel for a group brew.  He has since sent out an email about that.

By this time the night’s meeting had been going for a bit longer than normal and I think everyone was getting hungry to eat some chili.  So, Karen Lentzen then motioned for the meeting to adjourn which was immediately followed by many seconds.

A big thanks to all who brought chili in for the night.  I don’t believe there was much left to take home.

On top of the meads that were passed around earlier, here are the other selections members brought in.

Travis Sullivan brought his Copper Alt
Jeff Eaton shared Spiced Milk Chocolate Stout & Hot Tamali Mead
Steve Wissink had a Varrylo Saison
The Udelhoven’s had their Hazelnut Bender Brown Ale
John Dewane brought a Dampfbier, a Dark Wheat Ale, and a Dopple
Peter Kasprzak shared his Rochfort 8 Belgian Abby clone
Jody Cleveland had his Buck-Elk-Thunder (a Heineken clone) and a Super Berry Melomel
Lee Reiherzer  shared his Winter Wheat Ale
Vivienne Steinke & Lori Kroening brought their Welcome Black IPA

WOW!  That was quite a night.  See you all on Dec 17!

Richard Cardenas