Brewer of the Week: Scott Neel Bennett
Name: Scott Neel Bennett
When did you start brewing?
On my own in December of 2010, prior to that I had done 2 brew on premise batches at BrewBakers in Huntington Beach; one in 2007 and the other in 2008.
What got you brewing?
I started to get into beer in the mid 2000s, during this time I took a trip to Detroit and visited a childhood buddy who happened to be a homebrewer. He gave me one of his beers and it was fantastic. I knew right then that I wanted to give it a try one day.
When did you know this was no ordinary hobby, it was an obsession?
When I realized I was more concerned about climate control for my beer than I was for my house.
When did you join the AHA?
I joined in June of 2010
What is your "white whale" beer (the beer you'd hunt to the ends of the earth for, and possibly die trying to obtain)?
One day I would like to try Kate the Great, it’s on my 2012 to do list.
What is your favorite local craft brewery?
My favorite brewery is Surly Brewing out of Minnesota, my local favorite in California right now is Beachwood BBQ and Brewing in Long Beach. I’m also a huge fan of Alpine Brewing, The Bruery and Stone Brewing.
Do you have a homebrewing disaster you'd like to share?
Last summer I was brewing a stout in my garage. I was attempting to control the temperature via a water bath. One day the temps hit high 90s outside and low 100s in my garage. When I got home my beer was around 88 internally and while I was unpacking some stuff the airlock burst off hitting the ceiling. That was the last time I made beer outside a temperature controlled deep freeze and an airlock at the start of fermentation (now I use a blow off tube).
What is your favorite style(s) to brew?
Hoppy beers and Lagers, I'm known for my BIG IPL which is a Double India Pale Lager with crazy hop aroma.
What style(s) will you never brew?
Never say never, as my journey into beer has progressed I’ve found myself enjoying beers I had previously written off. While I doubt I’ll ever brew all the styles I want to keep my options open.
What was the first beer you ever brewed? How did it turn out?
On my own, a Mr. Beer IPA that I named after my daughter to be that turned out to be a cidery mess.
Have you ever had a homebrew mistake that turned out great?
I’ve messed up the timing of hop additions but was pleased with the way the finished product came out so I changed the recipe.
What is your favorite recipe based off of a commercial style?
I really like the results of the Northern Brewer Pro Series Surly Furious Kit and recently brewed the Cynic one.
Are you a BJCP Judge?
No, but I do judge in the club competitions. Getting certified is in my plans.
Do you have a good beer judging story you'd like to share with the rest of the homebrewing world?
I think people feel that beer judging must be great because of all the good beer you get to try. Truth is for every great beer you get to have 2-3 bad beers some downright undrinkable. The worst beer I've judged to date smelled and tasted like horse droppings.
Do you have a favorite homebrew trick or gadget that you've found to make your beer better/brewing easier, etc?
I have a ratcheting wrench from sears that is 7/16 on one side and 7/8 on the other.
Describe your brew system.
Currently my system is made up of a 15 gallon keggle, a 10 gallon cooler mash tun and I batch sparge with heated water from 2 smaller pots (one 5 gallon and one 3 gallon) which gets the job done. I serve my beer out of the keezer I built, or as I call it, "The Indy Crate".
How frequently do you brew (times per month or year)?
1-2 times a month is the plan.
What is your favorite malt? Why?
I like to say Victory because I love the name and do try to incorporate a small percentage where I can. I recently used Carared and loved the flavor and color.
What is your favorite hop? Why?
Right now it’s hands down Citra, love that hop as it provides a really rich passion fruit flavor and a very pronounced citrus aroma. I also love the big C hops from the Northwest, Simcoe and Amarillo.
What is your dream beer and food pairing?
A nice IPA/IPL paired with some spicy chicken tacos.
Do you have a favorite or house yeast? What qualities do you like about that yeast?
WLP007 is the closest thing I have house yeast as I use it the most. It provides a fast really clean fermentation with low esters, which is great for hoppy beers, it has high attenuation and works well in high gravity beers.
Do you have a good homebrew club story you'd like to share?
I belong to two clubs, Brewcommune and AHP Brew Club, both in Orange County. I feel that belonging to multiple clubs and multiple forums is important as they can provide a well rounded knowledge of brewing. The thing I’ve found is, in brewing, there are multiple right ways to do things and you should always be open minded to new techniques or ideas.
What is a beer style that is underappreciated and/or could take off given the opportunity and exposure?
I definitely think session beers are underappreciated. It seems like there is more focus on big 7-8% beers then sub 4%, the funny thing is that brewing a clean session beer is a lot harder than a big beer as mistakes have nothing to hide behind.
Is there any advice you would like to give to new homebrewers?
Start slowly and really learn the importance behind each step before you move on. With the quality of ingredients available out there today for extract brewers there is no huge reason to rush to all grain. Also sanitation is the number one skill homebrewers should master. If you continue to get off flavored beers really take a step back and examine your cleaning and sanitation process.
Find me at www.SNBBrewing.com
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