Name: David Scheil
When did you start brewing/What got you brewing?
I started brewing in 1988. All that was available at that time was light American lager, and I thought there had to be more variety than this! There was a homebrew shop that had just opened by my apartment, so I thought I would give it a try.
When did you know this was no ordinary hobby, it was an obsession?
It was in 2006, when I bought my first house. I brewed off and on between 1988 and 2006, but when I settled down, I was really able to put some thought and time into it.
When did you join the AHA?
In December, 2012.
What is your “white whale” beer (the beer you’d hunt to the ends of the earth for, and possibly die trying to obtain)?
What are your favorite craft breweries?
Broad Street Brewing | Reinbeck, IA
Singlespeed Brewing | Cedar Falls, IA
Millstream Brewing | Amanas, IA
Summit Brewing | St. Paul, MN
Do you have a homebrewing disaster you’d like to share? Or, have you ever had a homebrew mistake that turned out great?
I was brewing my Sturgis Falls Summer Ale this past June, had just finished sparging and was collecting my runnings when my mash ton slipped and fell to the floor. At that point I had about 3.5 of the gallons of runnings I needed for the batch. It was instantaneous, yet it happened in slow motion. The grains and the hot water were all over the garage floor.
After I got done swearing (sorry, Mom), I decided to make an emergency run to my local homebrew shop. When I got there it was closed, but luckily my buddy Tom was still there. I explained to him what happened and showed him the picture on my cell phone. I bought 5 pounds of dry malt extract (DME) and returned home, and added 2.2 pounds of the DME along with enough water to get to 6 gallons and proceeded with the boil as normal. But, my specific gravity was five points higher than what I wanted, so I used Beersmith to calculate that if I added 0.5 gallons of water to the secondary that the ABV would be at the level I wanted. Plus, I only lost about 1 IBU doing in the process. I took the beer to a club meeting and got good reviews. So, ultimately, everything ended up all right.
Do you have a special homebrew related project that you’d like to share?
Several years ago, eight members of our homebrew club bought the same homebrew kit, and designated a club meeting about four months in advance where we would share our finished beers. When we came together to taste the different batches, it was fascinating to taste the subtle variation from brewer to brewer.
What is your favorite style(s) to brew?
Steam and lagers.
What style(s) will you never brew?
Sours, I haven’t developed a taste for them yet.
What was the first beer you ever brewed? How did it turn out?
It was an amber ale. It turned out all right, I guess. I can barely remember yesterday, let alone 1988.
What is your favorite recipe based off of a commercial style?
My American pale ale based upon Widmer Brothers Drifter Pale Ale.
Do you have a favorite homebrew trick or gadget that you’ve found to make your beer better/brewing easier, etc?
When collecting my runnings during the sparge, I heat it up so it is close to boil by the time I’ve collected the full amount. It saves about half an hour in time. I’m pretty sure this idea did not originate with me.
Describe your brew system.
I use an all grain gravity system with a 15-gallon Home Depot cooler for a mash tun and a 5-gallon cooler for a lauter tun. I also have a sparge arm, a 10-gallon kettle and a Blichmann floor-standing burner (an awesome piece of equipment).
How frequently do you brew (times per month or year)?
I brew once or twice a month. But, I do most of my brewing in the spring and fall.
What is your favorite malt? Why?
I’ve never thought of having a favorite malt, but I guess it would be the malt that gets me good beer. In other words, what is needed at the time!
What is your favorite hop? Why?
Nelson Sauvin: It provides a blood orange, piney flavor that I enjoy very much.
What is your dream beer and food pairing?
Anchor Steam and BBQ ribs!
Do you have a favorite or house yeast? What qualities do you like about that yeast?
WLP 810 San Francisco Lager Yeast: I can use it as both a lager or ale yeast with good results.
Do you belong to a homebrew club?
I belong to and am the President of CRAZE (Cedar River Association of Zymurgy Enthusiasts).
Do you have a good homebrew club story you’d like to share?
Each year in late summer, CRAZE serves homebrew at a barbecue event. As usual, my wife and I were there serving my Belgian double. A woman, who I don’t know, loved that beer so much that she tried to pick me up. I was just dumb-founded. My wife, who was standing right next to me, was laughing her ass off. (I love my wife very much and never even considered doing something like that.) This woman also wanted me to move into her basement and brew for her. I told her she couldn’t afford me. My wife thought the whole thing was hilarious.
Is there any advice you would like to give to new homebrewers?
Beer is pretty resilient. So, brewing should be fun and relaxing. But, you should still be diligent about sanitation.