This week’s featured BOTW is Alaskan native Ryan Gribble who is currently working for Ice Harbor Brewing Co. located in Kennewick, Washington. Ryan has got a great brewing background with over 100 batches under his belt as well as 8 signature recipes of his own including Craig’s Full Moon (Amber), Loud Mouth Stout, and Dead Hamster IPA. Each beer has its own interesting name and story to go along with it.
What got you brewing? / When did you know this was no ordinary hobby?
I’d always heard about people brewing their own beer growing up, but it wasn’t until I went to Montana to do some work for a friend of my dad’s that I actually got a chance to actually try some homebrew. Over the next year after a lot of talking about doing it with some of my buddies and reading a lot of material on the subject, I finally decided to go out and buy some equipment. The day I brewed my first batch was the day that I realized that this was something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. As soon as all the equipment was cleaned from the first batch, my buddy and I went down to our local homebrew store and got more ingredients to make another batch. It’s been homebrewing for me ever since.
What is your favorite local craft brewery?
Personally, I’d have to say Ice Harbor Brewing Company is my favorite local brewery, mainly for the consistency of their beer, but also because I’m a bit biased because I work for them. Other than Ice Harbor, I’d have to give a shout out to Iron Horse Brewing as they make a mean Imperial Red and an even meaner Irish Stout.
Describe your brew system?
My brew system currently (and I say currently because it is an ever evolving life form) consists of two half barrels with the tops cut out and used for false bottoms. I have a home built counter-flow chiller made from 25’ of 3/8” copper tubing a few flare fittings and a 5 gallon Home Depot bucket. One of my 4 fermenters is a half barrel with a corny top welded on with a valve in the side and a valve in the bottom so I can take samples and pull my yeast slurry off respectively. The other fermenters are two liquid malt extract mini drums that hold 18 gal., and a half barrel with the stem pulled out that I use as a secondary for the mini drums.
How often do you brew?
I like to brew at least twice a month minimum, but I like to try to brew every Sunday. Hey some people seek religion on Sunday, I seek homebrew.
What was the first beer you ever brewed? How did it turn out?
The first batch I ever brewed was a honey hefeweizen, and it was horrible. My sanitation wasn’t up to par and the batch went sour.
What is your favorite style to brew?
I don’t necessarily have a favorite style to brew, but I do like big beers. If the gravity is over 1.070, I’m happy with it. My two favorites that I have in my recipe list is my IPA and the 120 Schilling Strong Scotch that I brewed two days before my son was born.
What is your favorite recipe based off a commercial style?
My favorite commercial recipe to brew has to be Rogue’s Double Dead Guy Ale, just for the complexity of the malty-ness paired with the strong hop flavor. 8% ABV doesn’t hurt either.
Do you have a homebrew club story you’d like to share?
I don’t have a specific story in mind, mainly just the thought of sitting out on the loading dock at Ice Harbor, where we hold the MCZA (Mid-Columbia Zymurgy Association) meetings, smoking cigars with a few of the guys after the meeting breaks tasting/finishing off the bottles of whatever we all brought in. Plenty of good times to be had for sure, and I’d encourage everyone to join a local homebrew club.
Do you have a favorite homebrew trick or gadget that you’ve found makes your beer better/brewing easier?
I’ve really got to thank Jon from Beer Bellies Brew for this one; The Brew Day Timer has saved my life. Gone are the days trying to remember what time your boil started and when to add hops, this program lets you set your timer for your length of boil, and add alerts for each hopping, going so far as to let you specify what type of hops and how much for that alert. Now I don’t have to worry that I’ll forget after I’ve had six beers during the course of the brew day. Cheers!!