Brewer of the Week: Jon Covey
Name: Jon Covey
Home Town: Hebron, KY
Homebrewer since: 2007
AHA Member since: 2012
Homebrew Club: Northern Kentucky (NKY) Homebrewers Guild
How/why did you get into homebrewing?
I started homebrewing about five years ago. My co-worker, Eddie, and I had gotten into craft beer a few years earlier and had tossed around the idea to try our hand at brewing our own. One day his dad, who used to brew, gifted his equipment to us after Eddie had mentioned that we wanted to give it a try. I whipped up an IPA recipe, went to a local homebrew supply shop a few days later, and off we went.
Do you have a homebrewing disaster you'd like to share?
Oh yeah. My wife and I had a small private wedding in a cabin on a mountain. I brewed the old trusty IPA and a Dunkelweiss as the beer for our wedding and packed the four cases of homebrew for the five hour trip for my guests to enjoy. When we opened the first bottle of the Dunkleweiss the day before the wedding, it had a distinct vegetal aroma and taste. Luckily the IPA was great but we dumped every bottle of what will always be known as the "broccoli hosewater beer." Sanitize, sanatize, sanatize!
What is your favorite styles to brew?
American ales, porters and stouts typically, but pre-Prohibition styles and off-the-wall ales intrigue me.
What was the first beer you ever brewed? How did it turn out?
It was a partial-grain original recipe IPA. Everyone who tried it said it was one of the best beers they had tasted (friends are so nice). It fueled the fire to continue brewing to have a success off the bat. I still brew a derivative of that recipe. In fact, the IPA I brewed for my wedding was almost an identical recipe to my first ever batch.
Are you a BJCP Judge? If so, what is your rank and how long have you been judging?
Yes, certified. I have been judging since April 2012.
Do you have a favorite homebrew trick or gadget that you've found to make your beer better/brewing easier, etc?
The hop spider and nylon paint strainer bags have worked wonders for helping me produce some brilliant clarity in my beers.
Describe your brew system:
Single tier - no sparge. I tend to brew very simply using manual procedures and basic equipment. I have recently been testing out brew in a bag (BIAB) in a single vessel, and it may be my new method given the increased efficiency and simplicity. No fancy push button - controller run - plc - recirculated thingamajigs for me. Not that there is anything wrong with push button - controller run- plc - recirculated thingamajigs. I like feeling that primal connection to the process I suppose—fire, kettles and raw ingredients—like cooking over an open fire, simple.
How frequently do you brew?
I would estimate twice a month on average, more if preparing for a competition or my friends and I have been extraordinarily thirsty.
What is your favorite malt? Hops? Yeast?
I really like using Maris Otter as my base malt, as I think it adds a fuller malt profile than pale malt. I use Centennial and Cascade hops a lot and still consider them my favorites, however I wouldn't kick Amarillo or Willamette out of the bed. White Labs WLP001 has given me a lot of success and a great level of consistency.
Do you have a good homebrew club story you'd like to share?
I co-founded NKY Homebrewers Guild in January 2012 out of a desire to share my passion of homebrewing with other local brewers. Starting a club has been such a fun experience and has introduced me to so many great homebrewers in my area who share the same passion as I do for the craft.
It was especially fun starting a club who brews together once a month in the middle of an Ohio Valley winter. It was nothing some good homebrew, a fire pit, oatmeal stout chili, and kettles of boiling wort couldn't overcome. The diversity of brewers in our club means I am always learning something from someone, regardless of experience or skill level. It has been and continues to be an awesome experience.
Do you have any pets or kids named after beer styles or ingredients?
One of my dogs is named Shandy.
How many medals have you won from homebrew competitions?
A bronze and a silver for my amber ale, so far. I just started entering competitions less than a year ago. More to come.
Do you brew alone, with friends or with someone you live with?
Sometimes alone, a lot with my club, and sometimes with friends and neighbors. The social aspect and camaraderie of homebrewing has always been something I love. The people are half of what makes this hobby amazing.
Are you an indoor or outdoor brewer?
Outdoor for sure, I brewed once in the kitchen and it just didn't have the same appeal. Open air and a flame, that's it for me—it goes back to that primal thing.
What advice would you offer to new homebrewers?
It can be as simple or as complicated as you make it. You don't need to have super expensive equipment or a ridiculously complex process to make amazing beer. Brew a lot and get comfortable with the equipment you have and your process. Once you have this understanding, your beers will quickly improve.
I would also recommend brewers join and participate in a local homebrew club. There is likely a ton of knowledge and support available close by and you will make a lot of new friends who want to help you make better beer!