Brewer of the Week: Cory Montville
Name: Cory Montville
Hometown: Orlando, Florida
Brewing Since: 2011
When did you start brewing/What got you brewing?
I started to think about brewing myself when I started to deviate from the normal Miller/Budweiser that you would find at a party, to Guiness Extra Stout, Sam Adams Cream Stout, and other beers with a more complex palate experience than American Light Lagers. I got into brewing because I enjoy making things from scratch. I enjoy cooking and building things with my hands and it is a great combination of them both.
When did you know this was no ordinary hobby, it was an obsession?
What really awakened my understanding to how different brewing is from most other hobbies is the usage of yeast. It might be similar to brewing and distilling wine or spirits, but these also are unique to most everything else. The importance of sanitation and having to wait weeks to months to years to appreciate the final product really test your patience. Someone once told me that we are glorified janitors that happen to make beer. We are really poop farmers, glorified yeast poop farmers.
The first time I realized it was an obsession is when I spent two days without sleep brewing or tending to fermenters, or when my entire week is booked with brewing and brewing related activities.
When did you join the AHA?
I joined AHA very recently and I had only joined my local club (CFHB) a month earlier. I had been brewing on my own for about a year and a half and did not realize that there was a huge group of awesome, interesting people who all love what I love. Not to mention the support and resources available when you become part of a home brewer’s club.
What is your "white whale" beer (the beer you'd hunt to the ends of the earth for, and possibly die trying to obtain)?
I really don’t like this question because most beer is different. I love IPA’s, Pale Ales, Milk Stouts, Oak Aged Imperial Stouts, Black Lagers, Brown Ales, and plenty of other styles. I would say my favorite would be an IPA, but my palate is always changing with beer and I am always learning to appreciate the complexity of different styles. This question could apply because I live in Florida, and often distribution companies do not ship a lot of craft brews down here.
So to answer this question the way I think it should be worded
“If you walked into a bar, what beer, if it were on tap, would you immediately order?”
Right now my eyes are pealed for Highland’s Cold Mountain
What are your favorite craft breweries?
Highland out of Asheville
Sweet Water out of Atlanta
Do you have a homebrewing disaster you'd like to share?
When I started brewing I lived in an “attic” style room in my parent’s house. During the summer my room would get to 80+ F during the day and it was very hard to control the temperature for proper fermentation. So my first couple batches never saw carbonation. This was a huge demotivation to continue brewing, but several years later I moved into a small concrete walled apartment and have been able to ferment properly ever since.
One time I forgot to close the lid on a secondary bucket after a transfer, and I created my first sour beer.
Recently, while getting used to pumps and quick disconnect lines, I disconnected my pump input line (which was connected to my MLT for recirculation to settle the grain bed), but I forgot to close the pump output valve and all the wort still in the sparge arm came rushing out onto the floor and my feet. NOT ONLY did it do that, but the sparge arm was submerged about an inch into the top of the mash and created a gravity siphon which pumped even more wort onto the floor. Luckily I only had to mop 6 times to get rid of the stickiness.
Do you have a special homebrew related project that you’d like to share?
I just finished building a ½ BBL system, which I am going to try and use to break out of just being a homebrewer and make some money while I finish my college education.
What is your favorite style(s) to brew?
My favorite style to brew is what I like to drink, which would be IPA’s or Pale Ales.
What style(s) will you never brew?
I will never brew a sour, because I do not prefer to drink them, nor do I find that there is a huge demand for them, and I don’t want to spend the money to dedicate equipment to just sours as sours tend to infect whatever equipment they touch.
What was the first beer you ever brewed? How did it turn out?
The first beer I ever brewed was a Brown Ale. I had uncontrollable fermentation temperatures and most of the bottles did not carbonate, so I never really got to drink it.
Have you ever had a homebrew mistake that turned out great?
I tried to brew an imperial stout once, but I decided to add way more malt extract than I had planned. It turned into a really good black barley wine.
What is your favorite recipe based off of a commercial style?
I prefer not to copy any styles or do any clones. I design my recipes based off of what my taste buds tell me is going to be good, and if I happen to mimic a commercial brew or a clone I would prefer not to know.
A great comedian once said that she never goes to comedy shows, because if she did go and heard a joke that she was thinking of doing or heard just a really good joke, then she would never be able to do that joke in good conscience because she would know that someone else was doing the same thing.
It is about being unique, and if in my mind I know that I have not copied any recipe then I lose that uniqueness at least in my eyes. Inevitably we all use similar ingredients and will mimic someone else’s beer, but it is important for me to not have the intent of doing that.
Do you have a favorite homebrew trick or gadget that you've found to make your beer better/brewing easier, etc?
Pumps, pumps, pumps, pumps, and pumps
Describe your brew system.
I have a 3 x 25 gallon system, with 2 x burners, and a herms recirculation system. I built my stand out of “erector set” steel from lowes. I use 1/2” silicon hose and cam & groove quick disconnects.
How frequently do you brew (times per month or year)?
In the last year I have brewed about 100 gallons (17 x 6 gallon batches), but now I have a 1/2 BBL system and could do that in 7 brew days.
What is your favorite malt? Why?
My favorite malt is Maris Otter, because it just tastes better.
What is your favorite hop? Why?
I like citrus hops, so I tend to use a lot of Citra and Cascade. But I also like Chinook cause it smells like cheese.
What is your dream beer and food pairing?
A nice citrusy IPA and some BBQ (smoked chicken wings, baby back ribs, etc)
Do you have a favorite or house yeast? What qualities do you like about that yeast?
I tend to stick to 1056 American Ale, because it is versatile and well rounded. It works for what I like to make.
Do you belong to a homebrew club? Do you have a good homebrew club story you'd like to share?
I belong to Orlando’s CFHB club. No stories yet, but I am sure there will be some in the future.
Is there any advice you would like to give to new homebrewers?
There is so much information surrounding brewing beer and learning it all will be your greatest challenge. There are some great books out there and you should read them to get some base knowledge, but the greatest tool that I have found is not the internet or reading books, but the people around you. I have learned more interviewing local professional brewers and joining in with local club members to brew than I have from any internet or book source.
Practice, practice, practice. Like any hobby, sport, or profession it takes time and patience to develop from that initial brew to something you can be really proud of.
Make the investment, research your equipment, and build it if you can. With each piece of equipment there is one less thing you have to do. For example, buy an Oxygen tank and you will never have to do the back breaking work of aerating a carboy by shaking it.
Switch to all grain. All-grain takes a lot of patience and practice, but there is nothing like an all-grain beer. It will cost more for the equipment initially, but extract is expensive and in the long run you will save money.
Switch to kegging! Again it is going to cost you money for the equipment, but there is nothing like drinking your beer the day after it is done fermenting, and bottling is a pain in the butt. You can clean one keg or clean 42+ bottles (16 oz).