Brewer of the Week: Becky Nix
Name: Becky Nix
Hometown: Salt Lake City
Brewing Since: 2008
When did you start brewing/What got you brewing?
I started brewing in 2008 when I moved to Utah because I wanted to make different beers other than what I could find at the store.
When did you know this was no ordinary hobby, it was an obsession?
Once I joined the Hop Bombshells homebrew club, I knew I had a problem. I just wanted to make more beer and talk about it with other homebrewers.
When did you join the AHA?
I joined in 2013. Now I get Zymurgy magazine sent to my house instead going to the bookstore for the newest issue.
What is your "white whale" beer (the beer you'd hunt to the ends of the earth for, and possibly die trying to obtain)?
Deschutes Fresh Squeeze
What are your favorite craft breweries?
I like Odell Brewing Co., Deschutes, Wasatch Brew Pub & Brewery and Sierra Nevada Brewing Company.
Do you have a homebrewing disaster you'd like to share?
I have had my share of hop facials when an IPA is blowing up during fermentation and I forget to put on a blow-off valve. Hop facials are not as fun as they sound because that lupine oil hurts your eyes.
Do you have a special homebrew related project that you'd like to share?
My extra bathroom is my homebrew equipment cleaning room. At some point, I will take out the shower and toilet to make it an official room with a stainless steel sink, white tile walls, and a big drain, but that is just a dream for now.
What is your favorite style(s) to brew?
I have a nitro tap, so I always have something that goes well on nitro: java porter, oatmeal stout or a cream ale. I try to always have some hoppy beer style on tap too, like an IPA, pale ale or Northwest red ale.
What style(s) will you never brew?
I found out the hard way that I am allergic to most Belgian yeast, but I've made a few. I'm not really into wheat beers (wit, hefeweizen, etc.) so I usually avoid those.
What was the first beer you ever brewed? How did it turn out?
It was an IPA, and it turned out really good. So then I made more, and bought more equipment—then started playing with recipes and bought more equipment.
What is your favorite recipe based off of a commercial style?
I love an Odell IPA clone. My favorite version is in the July/August 2012 Zymurgy (member login required).
Are you a BJCP Judge? If so, what is your rank and how long have you been judging?
I am not BJCP certified yet, but I'm studying for the test. I have judged at two competitions so far in 2013.
Do you have a favorite homebrew trick or gadget that you've found to make your beer better/brewing easier, etc?
Clean, clean, rinse and sanitize. My new favorite toy is my refractometer, but I'm also really fond on my plate chiller/thrumometer.
Describe your brew system.
I have two 10-gallon igloo coolers for my lauter tun and hot liquor tank. I use a 10-gallon Blichmann boilermaker for boiling my sweet hot wort on my deck while looking at the Wasatch mountains. In addition, I use a Blichmann plate chiller with thrumometer which goes straight into my 6.5-gallon glass fermenter.
How frequently do you brew (times per month or year)?
I brew at least one batch a month, but it's usually more. I like to have at least two beers incubating at all times to make sure I always have four beers on tap.
What is your favorite malt? Why?
Maris Otter, because it has a bready taste that you can't find with many other malts.
What is your favorite hop? Why?
Galaxy, because I love the grapefruit aroma.
What is your dream beer and food pairing?
Beer and chocolate!
Do you have a favorite or house yeast? What qualities do you like about that yeast?
I prefer to use Safale-05 or Nottingham, depending on what I am brewing. These yeasts can handle a lot of alcohol and tend to ferment most of the sugars I feed them. I like using dry yeast because I rarely plan my brew days far enough ahead of time to make a yeast starter. If it doesn't snow, then I can make a beer without much planning. Plus, dry yeast is cheaper than liquid yeast and the viability is always good.
Do you belong to a homebrew club? Do you have a good homebrew club story you'd like to share?
I belong to the Hop Bombshells. Our first big brew was really fun and informative. We made a pale ale where we started with the same recipe except used different yeast strains. It went smoothly, except we only had one hose to cool 50-gallons of wort. It took forever. The beer ended up being delicious.
Is there any advice you would like to give to new homebrewers?
You can make a very good beer with minimal equipment, just make sure everything is very clean and properly sanitized.