BOTL is a club that was founded as a means for our members to educate themselves and others about brewing beer, ciders and meads. We are all in this hobby as like minded individuals that have a thirst for knowledge and an appetite for an enjoyable time. Most of us are from Holland, MI and the surrounding communities.
We are accepting new members at this time.
For more information about our fine organization please email us at
We meet on the second Thursday of each month at the New Holland Pub. Start time 7 PM.

Please bring 3 bottles of this month's style homebrew that you want to share, OR a different style of your homebrew.
When bringing your homebrew to share, please bring your recipe to tell everyone about your brew.

Styles of each month:
January – Barleywine, Winter Warmer, Strong Ales
February - Belgian/French Ales, Lambics and funky stuff
March – English Ales and Milds
April - Lagers, Kolsch and Hybrids and Alts
May –
Cider, Cysers, Perry and Meads
June - Pale Ale, IPA and Ryes
July – Ambers and Reds
August – Wheat, Wit, Weizens and Fruit Beers
September –
Scottish Ales and Browns
October – Oktoberfest, Pumpkin, and Spiced Beers
November – Stouts and Porters
December – Saturday, Dec. 8 Christmas party, best of cellar and potluck lunch

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Thank you New Holland!

Homebrewers United was a great time!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fall Hop Harvest

Now that you have spent the entire growing season diligently caring for your vines, it is time to harvest what can turn out to be copious amounts of hops on healthy, mature plants. The following will cover some guidelines for you to follow in order to assure that you are harvesting your hops at their peak of potency and freshness. A little study in this area will allow you to accurately time your harvest so that you can maximize your return on your annual investment in water and time.
Take note, the following guidelines are on a cone by cone basis, rarely, if ever, will all of your cones be ready for harvest simply because some of them are presenting the signs that they are ready to harvest. Harvests can many times take days, or weeks to complete in separate stages for the home brewer. Hops farmers will often harvest everything at once, but at home you can take more care.
  1. Hop cones appear less “tight”, the leaves of the cone are visibly “opening” 
  2. The bases of the hop leaves are showing ample amounts of bright yellow lupulin 
  3. When squeezed, the cones emit the fragrant scent that you would come to expect from fresh hops (pungent, fragrant)
  4. When the cone is squeezed between your fingers and released, it feels papery, resilient, not green and hard
  5. The small bract leaves at the base of the hop stem are beginning to dry and the tips are browning 
Typically when you observe a hop cone presenting all of the above traits, there will be an ample number just like it, enough to justify harvesting all of those that have peaked. Those cones that do not exhibit the signs listed above are best to be left alone until they do. It can take days or even weeks for them to mature.
Once you have harvested the ripe cones, it is time to prepare them for preservation. Hops have several enemies when it comes to maintaining their characteristics.
  1. Temperature
  2. Oxygen
  3. Time
Hops must be stored cool, or better yet frozen. The oils that exist in the lupulin glands are volatile and do not store well at room temperature. These oils are also easily oxidized, which means that long term storage planning must include some sort of vacuum packaging. Lastly, even if you have frozen and vacuum packaged your hops, time is one enemy that you cannot avoid, that is, unless you actively brew and use your hops!
To prepare your hops for storage as discussed above, they are typically dried. You can freeze them wet, or use them wet in a specialty beer if you like! There is a school of thought, however, that believes that freezing WET hops will actually serve to preserve the hops longer, though drying them is the norm. (Source Charlie Papazian, Homebrewers Companion)
To dry the hops you can use many methods, but stay away from cookie sheets and ovens if you can. Hops are fragile, their oils and thusly their characteristics are extremely susceptible to degradation from high temperatures, best to dry them slowly and naturally. Food dehydrators have been used with success, or another method that is used with great success is the box fan and window screen method.

If you have a home, you most certainly have windows, and you most certainly have some window screens to go along with them. You can use some chairs, 5 gallon buckets, really anything you can think of to support the window screen horizontally above the floor. Now, you must do the same with a cheap box fan from any retail store… supported above the floor (to allow it circulate air), but below your window screen, facing upward.
You can then spread your freshly harvested hops across the screen in a singular layer and turn the fan on low. You don’t want the hops flying all over your garage, but you do want to promote drying and air circulation. Agitate the hops periodically to ensure even drying of all of the hops. Allow this process to carry on until your leaf hops are papery and sufficiently dry to store. Once this is accomplished, vacuum seal and freeze any hops that you do not intend to use right away to preserve them.

When you are picking, make sure to keep the different varieties you grow in separate containers and drying screens as not to mix them up.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Vander Mill cider garden now open

MittenBrew, Christopher Epplett In hopes of promoting more on-site consumption of its hard cider, Vander Mill celebrated the grand opening of its outdoor cider garden Friday. Hard cider’s increasing popularity has created fairly rapid growth for Paul Vander Heide’s cider mill. Friday’s opening of its more than 2,000 square-foot outdoor garden was another benchmark for Vander Mill. “It’s a relaxing, family-friendly place to have a drink,” Vander Heide said. “We’re trying to maintain a balance of family-friendly and craft-alcohol drinking.”
Among the “family-friendly” options, youngsters were carted around on a train powered by a tractor and took full advantage of an adjacent playground area surrounded by five acres of woods to the east of the mill.
In the past three years the cider mill has seen increased traffic, which the owner attributes to familiarity of its products now served at 28 bars/restaurants and 40 store retailers across the state, mostly in West Michigan.
 “There’s a lot of traffic coming from Grand Rapids and they recognize the logo, they recognize the name,” Vander Heide said. “And then there’s other people seeking it out.”
  Vander Mill, 14921 Cleveland St., is en route for beachgoers to Grand Haven State Park or Ottawa County’s North Beach Park. Those taking I-96 and exiting on M-104 pass the mill on their right heading into town (on the left as heading out of town). The store is open during the summer Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday noon to 7 p.m.
During the event, two specialty ciders were on tap in addition to eight others — the mill usually has 10 ciders on tap. The specialties, Luscious Lutes, hard cider fortified with apple brandy, and Doubled Over, a dry-hopped, bourbon-barrel aged cyser, are both available until the batches run out.
 “We’re hoping to have a food element,” Vander Heide said. “The concept is going to be that we do 100 percent Michigan product. We would hope the additional food we offer would feature the products sold in the store.”
 Vander Mill was recently state-approved for a microbrewing license and is working on federal approval. The owner says Vander Mill will brew various fruit beers, “things that are kind of in our vein.” “We are a cider mill first,” he said. “We’re going to make a beer that has cider in it, you can bet on that.” The brews — perhaps two or three offered on-site with occasional one-offs at local bars — will be made “on a really micro scale,” according to Vander Heide.
 The mill is transitioning from poly totes to tanks, which should help produce a higher volume of cider. In total, three tanks will be used — a 2,000-gallon fermenter and two 850-gallon brite tanks for carbonation. “It’s really going to help us improve consistency batch to batch,” Vander Heide said, adding the tanks will give a more consistent carbonation and help manage the company’s overall distribution growth.
 Vander Heide said. “It’s not how much we can sell, it’s who we can sell it to. We want to be able to sell it as a craft cider, not just a cider.”