Brewer of the Week: Lennie Rosenkrans
Who Are You: Leonard A. Rosenkrans, aka tom sawyer on the forums. You can call me Lennie.
Home Town (City, State): Hannibal, MO. Where else would tom sawyer reside? Of course he might have relocated to Cleveland as he moved up the corporate ladder to VP of Sales at Sherwin-Williams. Not me though, I'm no corporate schill.
Homebrew Club: I am the founder of the Hannibal Area Homebrewers Association, or HAHA. We started as a dedicated group of four brewers, several Irish folk musicians and a few innocent bystanders, with some overlap between subsets, such that there were around eight of us at most. Since then, our ranks have swelled to six brewers, a rotation of talent within the Irish folk band and the innocent bystanders who are no longer innocent. We might add up to a dozen at this point. Meetings include music, good food and usually a demonstration of some sort. Last meeting the demo was nude belly dancing. OK, not really.
How long have you been a homebrewer? I’ve been brewing for something like a dozen years, cranking out many mediocre batches of extract brew at high fermentation temperatures in my early career, followed by a brief hiatus and then a more recent run of good all grain brews done the right way. Mark Twain himself would be proud of my beer, even though he did sue me for copyright infringement on the sawyer monicker.
Do you have a homebrewing disaster you'd like to share? I set fire to my garage with the propane burner and burned it and the neighbor's house to the ground. OK, not really, but its more interesting than a stuck sparge or boil-over. If I had a real disaster, do you think I'd tell strangers? Oh heck no.
What is your favorite style(s) to brew? APA, Best Bitter, Hefeweizen, Kriek, Flanders Red, Helles.
What style(s) will you never brew? I've brewed most of them already, not a big fan of Saison or Bière de Garde.
What was the first beer you ever brewed? How did it turn out? It was apparently something high ABV because I don't remember it. I'm sure it was somewhat fuselly; I used to like to watch my beer ferment in the kitchen, warmest room in the house.
Have you ever had a homebrew mistake that turned out great? My kids. Just kidding kids, you were all planned. No, really.
Are you a BJCP Judge? If so, what is your rank and how long have you been judging? I became a Recognized BJCP judge last year. Sounds fancy, I don't usually mention it's the lowest rank you can get without flunking the test. My aim was to find out how much I knew about brewing. Turns out, I know a lot about brewing and squat about judging. Someday I’ll try again, Grand Master is within reach. OK, not really. Certified is a distinct possibility though. To practice up, I’ve been judging contests (five so far) and have met many excellent brewers and cool people in the process. No overlap of subsets there, just kidding. My wife comes along and she’s become an awesome stewardess. Her job as a high school science teacher means she has great organizational skills and the ability to keep a bunch of unruly kids in line, exactly what’s needed at your average homebrew contest. You know who you are.
Do you have a good beer judging story you'd like to share with the rest of the homebrewing world? I entered a Flanders Red in my first contest, it took a second place and I won a big tub of Straight A cleaner. I think they were trying to tell me something.
Describe your brew system. I mash in a Denny's quick-and-easy cooler MLT. I brew 3-gallon batches and use a 5-gallon blue cooler. I know there’s this internet controversy over cooler color, but "its all white on the inside" I always say. I chill the kettle in the sink, and mostly ferment in buckets in a swamp cooler, although I did break down and buy a freezer and controller for lagers. This was the missing piece of my lager-brewing process.
Do you have a favorite or house yeast? What qualities do you like about that yeast? I’ve used the West Yorkshire strain for almost a year now, makes a fine special bitter. The Wyeast lambic blend is also really good.
Do you have a good homebrew club story you'd like to share? Last summer one of the members brought a cooler full of mudbugs from LA, corn on the cob and red potatoes. We boiled them up on the spot. Best crawdad boil I ever tasted.
How many pounds of malt can you stuff in your Prius? Answer so far is 400, my photo shows a measly 350 lb load. When you drive 200 miles to pick up your malt, that 48 mpg helps out a lot!
If you could serve your homebrew to someone famous, who would it be and what would you give her/him? I always wanted to serve my Kriek to Jeff Sparrow, author of Wild Brews. Then I met him this summer at a homebrew contest and we partied afterwards. He drank my Kriek and liked it. He wasn't just being nice either; he said it even after I put down the gun. Great guy, he hit on my wife and she liked that. Watch him ladies.
Are you an indoor or outdoor brewer? I used to be an indoor brewer, but as always happens, getting a more modern stove with the beautiful glass top resulted in an impotent boil, so now I'm brewing with propane on the deck. I should know better after that garage/house incident, but I'm more careful now. OK, not really.