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

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Is Too Much Flavor Numbing Our Beer Palates?

  JON SUFRIN-Special to theglobeandmail
The first time I tasted a hop-forward craft beer, a door opened in my mind. I realized I had been drinking bland beer my entire life. Beer, as I knew it, was refreshing, but it was about as interesting as Evian. This craft beer was fruity, floral, citrusy and bitter, like an artfully composed cocktail. It demanded attention.
 From that moment on, I sought out only hoppy beers. I wanted that same adrenalin rush and I wanted my mind blown again and again. So I snapped up every India Pale Ale and other hop-heavy style of beer I could find: Southern Tier IPA, Red Racer IPA, Augusta Ale and then onto double IPAs.  But recently, I noticed that the beers I sought tasted more or less the same. They tasted, of course, like hops. My range of preferred beers had become disconcertingly tiny. Like an opium addict, I was chasing the dragon of that first experience and in the process I was ignoring an entire world of beer.
 I’m not the only one with this curious problem. In the United States, the obsession with hops runs deep. According to IRI, a market research firm from Chicago, sales of IPAs in the U.S. surged 50 per cent last year and accounted for a quarter of all craft beer sales. Some U.S. brewpubs serve beer with fresh hops added as a garnish. (The only way to get a more intense hop rush is to inject the stuff directly into your veins.)
 Hops have given beer drinkers an unprecedented flavour gain, but there seems to be something vaguely Faustian about it. Isn’t sensory overload one of the drawbacks of our modern world? Shouldn’t we be developing palate sensitivity rather than seeking ever greater outside stimulation? Shouldn’t appreciating good beer – or appreciating anything for that matter – be more about paying attention rather than waiting to get slapped in the face?
 Maybe we’ve reached peak hops.
 Hoppy beers have been around since at least the late 1700s, when the British Empire shipped highly hopped beer to India (hence the name, India Pale Ale). The abundance of hops aided preservation and ensured that the beer would still have flavour after the months-long journey. But this new wave of IPAs is completely its own animal.
 Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. claims to have ignited the craft beer boom in the U.S. with its hop-forward Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Launched in 1980, this beer uses Cascade hops, an unusually floral American variety.
 These hops give you really grapefruity, piney notes, You can’t find those types of hops anywhere else. It’s the terroir, it’s the soil. If you have an IPA made with English hops, it won't be as popular.
 But these wonderful flavours come with a cost. Because those hops add such a low-effort flavour boost, some brewers use them carelessly, without regard for balance, just to tap into the lucrative IPA market.
 Gradually you can’t taste it any more. You get used to it. And as people have gotten used to it, you have to start putting in more hops.
 In the midst of this hop rush, other types of craft beer are often pushed to the wayside. Craft beer is not defined by hops alone and IPAs don’t have a monopoly on flavour. Complicated beer has been around for centuries, such sour beers from Belgium, slightly salty Gose beers from Germany, fruity saisons or lively Trappist-style beers such as St. Bernardus Abt 12.
 There are some brewers that still think that a hoppy beer is something that represents craft beer. To them, craft beer equals hops, but it takes a very skilled brewmaster to make a hoppy beer that’s still enjoyable to drink as opposed to just being a novelty.
 It’s natural. People have been turning away from bland lagers and getting into this new thing. And when you do that, you tend to go after something that’s very different. When I first started tasting the American IPAs, I thought, ‘this is crazy and wild.’ I like extremes, but I think if you open a brewery and it’s the only thing you go after, that’s a little over the top.
 My fear is that people will think these hoppy beers are the only style of beer. There are so many types of beer. It would be nice to see people getting into them rather than putting all their money on one horse.
Flavorful beer styles
 Herewith, four flavourful beer styles that don’t rely on hops.

Sour IPA
This is a very new style. It’s called an IPA, but it’s not really that hoppy. Sour IPAs are made with sour mash, which is what is used in Berliner Weisse [a sour wheat beer from Germany]. The mash creates lactic acid, so it’s sour, and the combination of that with the hops brings out really nice flavors.

It’s way lower in bitterness than an IPA, but it can still holds some of the same characteristics. I think that an IPA fan would appreciate saison because it has fruitiness, tropical flavors and other things that people look for in an IPA, but without the bitterness.

This is a very old style of beer, and a lot of people associate lager with crappy beers. But people are starting to make better lagers and are bringing in some of the flavors that you’d see in an IPA. And now people are even starting to make India Pale Lagers, which uses lager yeast instead of ale yeast. Lager yeast ferments a little bit cleaner, so you have something that’s more drinkable. It’s a cool style.

Amber Ale
It’s not the most popular style, but I like it because it has characteristics of both pale ale and brown ale. If you want to try something that doesn’t have crazy bitterness but has a little bit more roasted malt flavors, amber ale is a good style.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Increased Hop Consumption

 These are good times for farmers who grow hops. The beer-flavouring plant is in short supply because of the dramatic increase in the popularity of craft breweries, Newser reported on June 12.  That has growers in the Yakima Valley - which produces 75 percent of the nation's hops - rushing to expand their production.
 Mitch Steele, brewmaster for Stone Brewing Co. in Escondido, California, agreed that "hop usage is outpacing supply." Stone Brewing, one of the nation's largest craft breweries, typically contracts several years out for its hops.
"When beer volume projections change, we get into trouble with some varieties," Steele said. So far, Stone Brewing has been able to buy or trade for the hops it needs, he said.
 But some brewers have had to curtail production because of the shortage, he said. It's not just the hops plants that are in short supply, Steele said. More processing facilities that dry and bale the plant are also needed, he said.
 In Washington, acreage grew more than 6 percent in 2014 from the year before and is projected to rise 10 percent this year. Prices are also climbing.
Craft beers typically use four to five times more hops than blander mass-produced beers.