How long have you been brewing? 11 years
What is your typical batch size (gallons)? 12
All Grain or Extract: All Grain
How long have you been all grain brewing? 4 years
What type of water do you use? Reverse Osmosis
Do you make any water adjustments? How do you calculate them? Bru’n Water
Mash Process: HERMS
Explain method for mash temp control & measurement: Blichmann sight glass and recirculate through HERMS coil
pH – When/How do you measure and adjust? Mash, sparge run off, and pre boil – digital pH meter. Usually lactic acid.
Sparge: Fly / Continuous Sparge
Recipe and Equipment
Do you make your own recipes? Do you use any brewing software/tools?
I’m a BeerSmith user – I write my own recipes as well as make tried and trues. Brewing Classic Styles is a solid book! I often look to homebrewtalk.com for inspiration. Ryan is also great resource.
Describe your equipment and setup:
3×20 gallon Blichmann BoilerMakers. 5500W electric elements, 2 pumps, counter flow chiller. Electric Panel and HERMS coil were sourced from Kal @ theelectricbrewery.com. I built a clone system from his site.
Boiling : Do you use hop bags, screens, filters, spiders? Typical boil time?
I have a hop screen but stopped using it. I’m thinking about starting to use it again though. With the condenser, I don’t take the lid off the boil kettle so the hop matter has been getting stuck on the kettle walls above the water line. I normally boil for 60 minutes, but I’ll do 90 minutes for any beers with a pilsner base, and 120 minutes or more for motor oil thick stouts.
What is your MVP piece of equipment, technique or trick to make your brew day easier, faster or most impacted your beer quality?
Boil Condenser – I have it hooked onto my boil kettle and brew indoors with no ventilation. The temperature in the basement doesn’t rise very much during the brew day (2-3 degrees). The thing works like magic! Also, I have a thing for making really clear beer. It’s not much of an MVP trick, but I usually go 1/4 tsp of gelatin in 1/4 cup of filtered water per 5 gallons, microwave until 150+ degrees. Once I keg the beer, I cold crash for 24 hours, then dump in the hot gelatin mixture, and let it sit for a few days, sometimes up to a week. I pour off the first pint or two and after that I get brilliantly clear beer.
What do you ferment in?
Plastic Brewers Bucket, Glass Carboy, Plastic Carboy (BetterBottle, etc), Stainless steel (brewers bucket / conical)
What is your method of fermentation temp control?
SS Brewtech Conical – I use the FTSS system and pump in cold water sitting in a cooler that has frozen water bottles changed out twice a day. Other buckets/carboys, I just let ferment at ambient temperature. The basement is relatively cool so it works well for most ales. I can bring them upstairs for a diacetyl rest. I can just kick up the controller on the conical if I need to do the same.
Do you use secondary fermentation vessel?
Only when adding fruit / dry hop / spice or other secondary additives
How long have you been a member of NUBS?
How did you find out about the club?
Perfect Brewing Supply
What is your favorite style to brew, any styles you wouldn’t brew?
I enjoy brewing historical styles, especially ones with a good story behind them. I’ve shied away from brewing smoked beers thus far.
Have you ever had to dump a batch? If so, what happened?
I actually went 7 years of extract brewing without dumping a batch. Once I went to all grain, I’ve had 2 that I’ve dumped and one that got sacrificed to the keezer gods. I’ve had a few that I wanted to dump, but Andy normally talks me into letting them sit a little while longer and they end up turning out fine. One was a pumpkin pie beer and got WAY too much spice. Imagine if Leinenkugel’s made a pumpkin pie beer and then double the amount of spice they would use. Another was centennial blonde from homebrewtalk.com. It got skunked while in a glass carboy sitting near the window. I’ve tried to make that beer 3 times, and something always goes horribly wrong.
What was the biggest mishap you ever encountered when brewing? (bottle bombs, broken equipment, big messes, etc.)
The sacrifice to the keezer gods was a freshly kegged irish red that I left a picnic tap on overnight. I was getting ready to watch football on Sunday morning and when I lifted the lid to my keezer, everything floated up. All 5 gallons had spilled out. I still drank a pint, it was delicious.
What has been your biggest challenge as a homebrewer?
Keeping it simple
What has been your biggest success as a homebrewer?
I participated in the homebrewer of the month program that others in the club have done as well over at Bosacki’s Homebrew. It was pretty neat to brew 55 gallons of your own recipe. Greg (the owner) told me recently I still hold a single day sales record (35 gallons). It was a fun experience and really cool to be able to enjoy your beer at a commercial brewery with friends and family.
What is your favorite part of brewing your own beer?
I love sharing it with others and getting feedback. I really enjoy talking shop with whoever will listen too
Do you have any other stories, facts, tips, or information about yourself you would like to share with the club?
My aunt and uncle started home brewing quite a long time ago. They moved from Chicago to Pennsylvania back when Coors was difficult to find outside of Colorado. My uncle built most of their equipment by hand and my aunt is a chemist and came up with all the recipes. I specifically remember one time my uncle talking about schwarzbier at the holidays and I didn’t really realize there were beers like that out there. I was always fascinated by the process and variety of styles and just wanted to brew. When I started working after college, a coworker got a kit for Christmas and we started brewing together. We’ve since taught others in the office to brew and we’ve gotten several folks into the hobby.