Monday, April 9, 2012

10 Years of Brewing, a look back



I brewed my 1st homebrew batch in late 2001, it was a Mr. Beer kit that my sister got from a Skymall catalog on a Southwest flight from Nashville to San Diego.  I remember looking at the can of malt supplied by Mr Beer kit and thinking, "This is all?"  That little packet of dry yeast was all I needed to add to start the wonderful process of fermentation?  It seems silly now after dozens of books read, thousands of forum posts and most importantly absorbing the knowledge from "The Brewing Network"

 I can remember that Mr Beer kit on the stove boiling away completely lost in brewing thought.  It was a scary experience, to me and my stove.  Luckily around the same time a childhood friend started brewing extract beers.  We would pour one of our homebrews and think about different beer styles and have a cigar.  I remember the beer being drinkable, but not great.  The truth of the matter is we would have a quality craftbeer and then jump into the homebrews after we had a inkling of a buzz.  I'm sure this strategy was to trick our minds into thinking that our beer was better than it really was.  (Off topic, I wish I could taste my old homebrew to compare it to today's batches.  I'm sure that I would man up and drink it) 




I ended up brewing extract batches a lot longer than I should of, a lot longer.  Filling up my spare time with building my 4 tap keezer and making sure that each tap had it's own dedicated Co2 regulator.  Around 2004, Danny (DeeperRootsBrewing) started to play around with partial mash recipes.  This absolutely floored me with fear.  When thinking about his kitchen, I can still recreate the smell of grain from that 1st batch.   I was paralyzed with stress watching the temp sit at 155 as we converted the starches.  Steeping that 2 pounds of grain started to make me think about more involved brewing ideas.  Don't get me wrong, the idea around all grain brewing scared the "Shit" out of me.  But let's be honest, I'm a guy and Danny was moving toward this elite title of "All Grain Brewer" and I wanted a piece of it to.

I purchased my current brewing set-up in early 2005, a MoreBeer B-1000.  I purchased this set-up without ever brewing "All Grain" before.  It was a gift to myself after doing my taxes.  I drove up to get the tower at the More Beer in Riverside to save on shipping and pick-up my 1st  "All Grain" recipe with help from Danny.  The next day I brewed my 1st real recipe.  Honestly I don't remember what it was, but knowing myself I would like to look back and think it was an IPA. 

This taste of "All Grain" brewing put my world into a tailspin.  I became obsessed with learning everything I could about homebrewing.  I discovered homebrewing forums, groups and podcasts.  Like a sponge collecting water I used this information to churn out batches of homebrew at record pace.  This went on for about 4-5 years.  My beer was getting better and better but not to the level that I knew it should be. 

In early 2010 I started my homebrewing blog.  It was and still is mostly for me personally, an easily referenced site that I can host my recipes, brewing notes and pictures for friends and family.  Also its a place where my friends can check and see what's currently on tap at my house.

For 2011 my brewing goal was to do 2 things.  Attend the National Homebrewer Conference in San Diego and make a Fermentation Chamber.  I did both of those things and it did wonders to my homebrewing.  I don't think a homebrewer can attend the NHC and absorb the information provided without solid basic understanding of brewing.  With that said, at the conference everything just clicked.  Want to talk about yeast?  Yes I do.  Want to talk to me about fermentation temps and why they are important?  Yup.  This single event somehow managed to take all the brewing information I had floating around in my brain and organized it into workable thoughts.

2012 is the year that I plan to break out of my brewing shell and brew beer with different ingredients, processes and styles(including sours).  Also this is the 1st year that I have entered my beer into competition.  I think I have flushed any worthy comments from my homebrewing friends.  I really need to find the next fault in my beer so that I can "fix it"

Brewing as become a true passion for me.  Unlike most homebrewers, I have no desire to jump into the professional brewing world.  I run a family business that keeps me busy during the day and a family that is overly open with my love of brewing.  So after 10 years of homebrewing, its been a great ride.



2 comments:

  1. Nice Story.

    One of the things that has improved my brewing the most has been starting to go to competitions as a Steward. I will eventually take the plunge into being BJCP certified so I can judge, but stewarding is a great first step. As a steward, you get a chance to taste the beer after you have observed the judge's notes and heard their discussion.

    Actually, NHC judging is this weekend (Fri night and Sat morning to afternoon) and they can always use more stewards. Here is more info: http://www.quaff.org/NHCStart.htm

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  2. It brought a tear to my eye...

    A lot has changed in the past ten years, all for the better. I think having people around you who are like-minded is a really important part of the growth process in any venture that has so much variation and potential for creativity. I've learned a massive amount from you. You've made some of the most delicious beer I've ever tasted and some that made me question your sanity, but regardless you've always pushed the envelope fearlessly. I think you have plenty to be proud of.

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Thanks for Commenting, Prost!