Brewer of the Week: Dan Martich
When did you start brewing?
I started brewing in the fall of 1998
What got you brewing?
Curiosity. I heard that making beer at home was a possibility. I shared that information with my friend Emad. When he returned from a vacation trip a few weeks later he brought back Dave Miller’s “The Complete Handbook of Home Brewing”. Everything else just fell into place from there.
When did you know this was no ordinary hobby, it was an obsession?
When I started accumulating so much stuff that I needed a “brew room”. I needed my very own dedicated area to store the equipment, brew, ferment and serve my beers.
When did you join the AHA?
I joined in the Spring of 1999
What is your "white whale" beer (the beer you'd hunt to the ends of the earth for, and possibly die trying to obtain)?
Allagash Four from Portland, ME
What is your favorite local craft brewery?
I have two actually, Bru Room at Bar in New Haven, CT and Southampton Publick House in Southampton, NY.
Do you have a homebrewing disaster you'd like to share?
Actually, it’s more of a tip, and due to my own experience. Wash your kegs thoroughly. Take no shortcuts when it comes to sanitation. Dumping beer is never fun. Thankfully I learned my lesson and it only happened once.
What is your favorite style(s) to brew?
Anything with a Belgian yeast strain.
What style(s) will you never brew?
Lite American Lager, Standard American Lager and Premium American Lager
What was the first beer you ever brewed? How did it turn out?
Premium American Lager, it placed second in my very first competition…Go figure!
Have you ever had a homebrew mistake that turned out great?
Kind of. I brewed a Belgian Wit last spring that was troublesome from the start. I had channeling in the mash, a screw from a hose clamp fell into the mash, the yeast didn’t cooperate, etc. After kegging it and a few weeks of conditioning, it was an awesome clone of Stella Artois. It went very well with my friend Demetri’s homemade pizza from his brick oven.
What is your favorite recipe based off of a commercial style?
Last fall I brewed a Cascadian Dark Ale (Black IPA) from the July-August edition of Zymurgy and it was out of this world. It was by far the most complex beer I’ve ever brewed, with layers upon layers of dark malt sweetness, hop flavor, and bittering hops galore! It was definitely one for the record books.
Are you a BJCP Judge? If so, what is your rank and how long have you been judging?
I’m not, but it’s on my to-do list. I would have to venture out of my area in order to take the classes, but I’m keeping my eyes open.
Do you have a favorite homebrew trick or gadget that you've found to make your beer better or brewing easier?
I made a sight glass for my system. It helps me during the mash out, so that I can tell when the wort is getting too thin. Then I break out the refractometer and measure the SG (specific gravity) to make sure that I’m not extracting any tannins. I also like the use of timers, and a check list on brew day keep me on course.
Describe your brew system.
After 10 years of brewing I thought a nice upgrade was in order, so I purchased Sabco’s Brew Magic with the help of my wife Anne Marie. As with anything, there was a bit of a learning curve moving from coolers to a RIMS system. But today we’re like old dance partners.
How frequently do you brew (times per month or year)?
I brew 12 to 15 times a year. Last year I broke my record and brewed 16 times, two of which were 10 gallon batches.
What is your favorite malt? Why?
I like Maris Otter for pales, brown and stouts, etc. For Belgians, I like belgian pilsner.
What is your favorite hop? Why?
Right now it's simcoe. It's so darn pungent. I brewed a Cascadian Dark Ale with it and it was love at first scent/sight.
Do you have a favorite or house yeast? What qualities do you like about that yeast?
Wyeast Forbidden Fruit 3463, I like the soft fruity ester and well roundedness. I've gone five generations with it, after yeast rinsing of course, and it behaves like a fine lady.
What's the most unusual ingredient you've ever used in a brew?
Dry hopping with mulling spices, it rocked!
Do you belong to a homebrew club? Do you have a good homebrew club story you'd like to share?
I haven’t belonged to a club in a long, long time. I’m looking to join one if it were close to home.
Is there any advice you would like to give to new homebrewers?
Brew with a buddy or buddies. Don’t drink when you brew, although very tempting wait at least until the wort is in the fermenter. Read, ask questions, join a forum. Follow the rules and once you’ve mastered them, express your creativity either through gadgets, recipe formulation or techniques. Have fun!
What is a beer style that is underappreciated and/or could take off given the opportunity and exposure?
I’m thinking of a beer that most beer geeks would pass up, and that would be an American Amber. When having a fresh one it’s a very satisfying beer that is full of flavor from the malt sweetness to hop bitterness and fruity esters from the yeast.
Do you have any pets or kids named after beer styles or ingredients?
My brewery is named after my two beagles. TBB (Two Beagles Brewing).
How many medals have you won from homebrew competitions?
I have my fair share. I like the thrill that competitions bring out in me.
Are you an indoor or outdoor brewer?
Indoors, inside my garage.
List some of the names you've given your beers. Which is your favorite?
- A season for reasoning
- Don't frown on the Brown
- My fellow Americans
Do you have a mentor or someone you think the world should know about? Or, tell the homebrewing community a little bit about yourself so we can get to know you! Post some background info on the AHA Forum under the Hombrewer Bios category, and that person may be selected as the next Brewer of the Week.
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