Brewer of the Week: Tiffany Steele
Name: Tiffany Steele
Hometown: Salt Lake City, UT
Brewing Since: 1999
When did you start brewing/What got you brewing?
I started in 1999 with my husband when we were newlyweds. We found a small kit at a housewares store while we were doing some Christmas shopping. We are die-hard DIYers, so it was a natural hobby for us.
When did you know this was no ordinary hobby, it was an obsession?
I was hooked from the first batch. It actually turned out okay and was drinkable! Imagine the possibilities!
When did you join the AHA?
I joined about a year and a half ago when I entered my homebrew into a competition.
What is your "white whale" beer (the beer you'd hunt to the ends of the earth for, and possibly die trying to obtain)?
Blaugies La Biere Darbyste - a saison made with fig juice.
What are your favorite craft breweries?
I love to support local breweries: Hoppers Grill & Brewing, Desert Edge Brewing and Uinta Brewing are a few of my favorites. I also love Deschutes and Russian River.
Do you have a homebrewing disaster you'd like to share?
It's not so much of a disaster, but more just a consequence of being a beginner. The first time we bottled, we decided to use 20 oz Coca-Cola plastic bottles because we thought it would be cheaper than buying glass bottles. The thing is, we don't drink soda. So we went and bought a couple cases of Coke, dumped it all down the drain, washed and filled the bottles with beer. Good thing we spent all that money on some cheap plastic bottles!
Do you have a special homebrew related project that you'd like to share?
My good friend Jamie started a ladies-only brew club, the Hop Bombshells, and invited me to help run it. We have been a club for a year and a half and are getting new members all the time! They are a fantastic group of ladies.
What is your favorite style(s) to brew?
Brown ales and saisons are just a couple of my favorite styles to brew.
What style(s) will you never brew?
I won't brew anything with wild yeast or bacteria, like lambics. I've done it before and will never do it again—I'll leave that to the professionals!
What was the first beer you ever brewed? How did it turn out?
The first was a Belgian wit with a few spices added. It was drinkable, and good for a first try.
Have you ever had a homebrew mistake that turned out great?
I can't remember any mistakes that turned out great—usually they turned out terribly (nail polish remover, anyone?).
What is your favorite recipe based off of a commercial style?
I have a great IPA recipe that is based off of Fuller's IPA that uses Fuggles and East Kent Goldings. There is just something magical about that hop combination.
Are you a BJCP Judge? If so, what is your rank and how long have you been judging?
I'm not a certified BJCP judge, but I have many years of professional experience judging. I've been judging at the North American Brewers Association annual competition since 2007, and have done some local homebrew competition judging at the Beehive Brewoff, which began five years ago.
Do you have a favorite homebrew trick or gadget that you've found to make your beer better/brewing easier, etc?
I realize this isn't a revolutionary thing, but I like doing a yeast starter rather than just pitching straight. With a starter I know the yeast are healthy, happy and ready to start fermenting. The beers usually start up right away.
Describe your brew system.
My system is a 10-gallon system, two straight-sided kegs that have been converted to a mash tun and kettle.
How frequently do you brew (times per month or year)?
When I first started, it was about 10-12 batches per month! Now I do about six batches a year. I wish I had time to do more.
What is your favorite malt? Why?
I love Golden Promise! it is a great base malt; very tasty and versatile.
What is your favorite hop? Why?
I have fallen in love with Citra. I love the grapefruit notes and can't get enough it.
What is your dream beer and food pairing?
A farmhouse ale with waterzooi of chicken: a soup made with chicken, leeks, cream and Belgian wit. It's great for cold weather.
Do you have a favorite or house yeast? What qualities do you like about that yeast?
My favorite yeast is the Dry English Ale yeast from White Labs. It is a workhorse and ferments anything you throw at it, so it's my go-to yeast for British or American-style ales.
Do you belong to a homebrew club? Do you have a good homebrew club story you'd like to share?
Yes, the Hop Bombshells Brew Club! The first time we got together to brew it was a bit chaotic, but we managed to make a good beer. We all used different yeasts so we could compare how the yeast affected the flavor. It was an interesting experiment.
Is there any advice you would like to give to new homebrewers?
Make one change at a time. First with hops and then with grain so you can get an idea of what it tastes like. But, most importantly, keep things enjoyable! Kick on some music, crack open your favorite beer and have fun. It can get labor intensive, but it's worth it and so much fun. And you get to drink your experiments!