Not just your average homebrewer, Kevin Delange has done what many of us dream to do with our hobby. Going pro. Kevin not only runs The Brew Hut homebrew supply shop in Aurora, CO but is co-owner and operator of Dry Dock Brewing Company. At the 2009 Great American Beer Festival, Dry Dock won Small Brewing Company of the Year as well as Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year. For this week's BOTW, Kevin is going to provide us with a look into the life of a homebrewer that took it to the next level and what inspired him to do so.
What got you brewing?
My mom got me a homebrew kit for my 21st birthday while I was in college. My first batch was an old ale for winter. It turned out pretty good, but most of my friends were still drinking fizzy yellow beer at the time so it didn’t go over very well. My family still gives me a hard time about that one but I’m still sure they had un-refined palates at the time.
When did you know this was no ordinary hobby, it was an obsession?
When I decided to buy The Brew Hut and run a homebrew shop. I had brewed casually before that but now all the sudden I was supposed to have all the answers. I brewed a lot that first year to make sure I knew what I was doing!
What is your "white whale" beer (the beer you'd hunt to the ends of the earth for, and possibly die trying to obtain)?
Any great, light, sour beer with a clean tart finish. I could drink that all day. At least until all the acidity catches up with my stomach.
What is your favorite local craft brewery?
Although it’s a bit of a drive, I love to visit Mountain Sun or Southern Sun. I’m always impressed by how many beers they have on tap. They were my inspiration when I started Dry Dock Brewing. We try to keep 14 beers on tap. You can never have too many choices when it comes to beer.
Do you have a homebrewing disaster you'd like to share?
My last batch was a wasabi rice beer. There is a reason no one makes wasabi beer.
What is your favorite style(s) to brew?
Probably double IPA. There’s something about adding tons of hops to the boil kettle that’s always exciting.
What style(s) will you never brew?
American light lager, and maybe smoked beers. I prefer my ham on the side.
Have you ever had a homebrew mistake that turned out great?
No, any mistakes I’ve made (like deciding to make a Wasabi beer) have turned out awful.
What is your favorite recipe based off of a commercial style?
Clone brews book has a great Sierra Nevada clone recipe.
Are you a BJCP Judge? If so, what is your rank and how long have you been judging?
Yes, I’m certified. I’ve been judging for about 8 years but only do a couple a year.
Do you have a favorite homebrew trick or gadget that you've found to make your beer better/brewing easier, etc?
I still don’t know why anyone bothers siphoning without an auto-siphon. My friend who I brew with most still uses a racking cane and it drives me nuts.
Describe your brew system.
My last big system was a Sabco, now with the brewery I usually just piece something together or borrow my friends system if I’m homebrewing.
How frequently do you brew (times/month or /year)?
Ever since we opened Dry Dock, I’ve only homebrewed a few times a year. If I am homebrewing, I’d prefer to do something crazy now since we can make more “normal” beers at the brewery.
What is your favorite malt? Why?
Currently Simpson’s Golden Promise. It has a great rich malt flavor without too much caramel or sweetness. It is the perfect malt to balance big IPA’s.
What is your favorite hop? Why?
There is a reason that Cascade and Centennial are so popular. They make a great pale ale without being too over the top.
Do you have a favorite or house yeast? What qualities do you like about that yeast?
English Ale yeast is my favorite. As long as you get it to attenuate enough and not leave the beer too sweet it ferments cleanly and flocculates wonderfully.