We at the AHA love a great story, especially as it relates to beer. One of the best ways to hear these stories is through this feature, the Brewer of the Week. We are currently tinkering with the format of BOTW, by putting more control into the hands of the brewers. We want to know more about you, so give it a shot. This features is about homebrewers and you don’t have to be a big-time muckety-muck to be a BOTW.
The AHA Forum has a list of questions that our governing committee has compiled to get the taps flowing, so to speak. If you are not a member of the forum, please consider becoming one. Besides BOTW information, there is a wealth of valuable knowledge and experience.
Sorry to steal the spotlight, Jeff. Take it away….
Who Are You: Jeff Britton, President: Garage Brewers Society
Home Town: Wentzville, MO
Homebrew Club: Garage Brewers Society
I’ve been a homebrewer since: Off and on since 1996, seriously into it since 2005
Do you have a homebrewing disaster you’d like to share? Once, I had two of my friends over to brew. They lugged all of their equipment out to my house and we each did our own batch. It was the middle of a brutal St. Louis summer and was probably close to 100 degrees that day. Of course the best way to try and stay fresh while homebrewing is to drink beer. Well, evening fell and we were all exhausted and hot and ready to be done. One friend, we’ll call him “Hott Scespen” (to save him from embarrassment) might have had one or two more than he should have. As we were cleaning up, he decided it would be a good idea to move his carboy that he had just pitched to get it out of the way. The other 2 of us said to him “maybe you shouldn’t do that”. His reply was “No big deal, I’m just going to put it right over here”. No sooner did those words come out of his mouth and he dropped the carboy in the middle of my driveway. Glass and beer went EVERYWHERE. It was an Imperial IPA that he had used close to a pound of hops in. It took us almost an hour to clean up since it was dark out. Eight months later and I still find a random piece of glass in my driveway.
What is your favorite style(s) to brew? As any homebrewer would probably say, anything with hops. I love the smell as they boil.
What style(s) will you never brew? Sour. I hate sour beers.
What was the first beer you ever brewed? How did it turn out? The very first beer I ever brewed was on a Mr. Beer kit. It was awful. I only tried two or three more on that before I took a hiatus from brewing until I started up again using real equipment.
Have you ever had a homebrew mistake that turned out great? Once, a friend of mine and I used the second runnings from a Pale ale and a Cream ale to make a third five-gallon batch. We had to bump it up using brown sugar, table sugar, lactose, and honey. Then we fermented it with Champaign yeast. We called it Champale. It was awful. It was so bad that, one night when I had six or eight other homebrewers over, we decided to mix it with random things from the pantry. My wife would find something to mix it with and the rest of us tried to guess what it was. Champale and Red Bull wasn’t really that bad! Neither was Champale and Captain Morgan. However, Champale and chocolate was even worse than the original
Do you have a favorite homebrew trick or gadget that you’ve found to make your beer better/brewing easier, etc? A drop of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) just before pitching. The yeast love it.
Describe your brew system. I use a 52 quart Coleman Xtreme Cooler with a stainless braid for my mash tun and have a 15 gallon stainless pot with a weldless ball valve and thermometer.
How frequently do you brew? In the spring and fall I will brew once a week. During the summer it is usually once every two or three weeks. Winter is tough. I hate the cold. Maybe once a month if I am lucky.
What is your favorite hop? Why? Magnum or Amarillo. They both seem to be a do-all hop. You can practically use them for anything. I love an Amarillo dry hopped beer.
Do you have a favorite or house yeast? What qualities do you like about that yeast? I use S05 for almost every beer I make. The results are so consistent. You know what you are going to get from it every time.
Do you have a good homebrew club story you’d like to share? Right now, our homebrew club is doing an Iron Brewer competition. It is based off the show Iron Chef. But instead of everyone making one beer with the “mystery ingredient” we had 16 brewers in a bracket. They competed head to head against each other. Each pairing had a different ingredient to use. The club judged them and the winners moved on to the next round. The ingredients ranged everything from Iced Oatmeal Cookies, to Fruity Pebbles, to Agave extract, to tarragon spice. The finals are being decided this at our meeting this month. The last two had to use five pounds of russet potatoes, four sweet potatoes, and a box of white rice. They had to get at least 40% of their fermentables from them. I can’t wait to see how they turn out. I already have some things in mind for the next one.
Do you have any pets or kids named after beer styles or ingredients? I have two dogs, Kona and Stone.
Do you brew alone, with friends or with someone you live with? Usually with friends or alone. My wife likes the beer but she hates the smell while its ‘cooking.’ She doesn’t tend to help much.
Are you an indoor or outdoor brewer? Outdoor. My wife would kill me if I ever had a boilover inside (again).