Name: Katie Ryan Thomas
Hometown: Crested Butte
Brewing Since: 2011
When did you start brewing/What got you brewing?
My ex and I started brewing together about two years ago. I got seriously hooked last fall when we made our first pumpkin ale. Last December I quit my job to work full time at my local homebrew store. For me, things only snowballed from there!
When did you know this was no ordinary hobby, it was an obsession?
I remember the first time I dreamed about homebrewing. I had an actual dream. I knew I was hooked then, and recognized it in my life. I would go to work and talk about homebrewing and beer all day long, and then I would go home and talk about beer and homebrewing. On the weekends, we would go to a microbrewery and drink beer, and talk about beer. It was something that I literally thought about 24/7.
When did you join the AHA?
In May 2012 while working as the AHA intern.
What is your “white whale” beer (the beer you’d hunt to the ends of the earth for, and possibly die trying to obtain)?
I’m always searching for the perfect Berliner Weiss…but if I see Ommegang Hennepin, I have a hard time drinking anything else!
What are your favorite craft breweries?
I love to frequent my local microbreweries. I love De Steeg, Crooked Stave, Hogs Head, Denver Beer Co. and Our Mutual Friend, just to name a few in Denver. I also love New Belgium, Ommegang and New Glarus.
Do you have a homebrewing disaster you’d like to share?
My ex and I once bottled a saison that I wasn’t quite sure was finished fermenting, but was rushing to get it conditioned by Christmas. I decided to store all the bottles in a beautiful antique wooden chest I had recently saved from the dumpster. One day I kept hearing loud bangs, like there were rocks landing on my roof. About two weeks later, I went to check on the saison, and when I stuck my hand in the chest, I ended up with shards of glass in it. Most of the saisons had become bottle bombs. Clean up was terrible and that chest still stinks to high heaven. The ones that didn’t blow foamed like crazy when opened and tasted awful; like sweet, over ripe bananas. Lesson learned? WYeast 3724 takes forever!
Do you have a special homebrew related project that you’d like to share?
By now you’ve heard me mention ‘my ex’ several times. In the breakup, he got all the brewing equipment and the kegerator. I got all the fermenters. Now I get to start building my new brew system from scratch, but I have some pretty amazing ideas! This time around, I’m better equipped with knowledge that I can use to make my new system even better than the old one.
What is your favorite style(s) to brew?
I love Belgian styles, but I’m learning to love hops too. I love trying new styles, and I like beers that surprise people. The best reaction is “Wow! That doesn’t taste like any beer I’ve ever tried before! It’s amazing!”
What style(s) will you never brew?
I never say never.
What was the first beer you ever brewed? How did it turn out?
The first batch we made was a two-gallon Mr. Beer starter kit. It was an amber ale, and it tasted like sparking water. Thankfully we kept with it and the next few batches were drinkable!
Have you ever had a homebrew mistake that turned out great?
We had extra wort one time for a Hefeweizen so we fermented it with am American ale yeast in a two-gallon bucket. It was terribly weak when it was finished, so I added some blueberry extract to it. My few bottles of blueberry session were loved by many people :)
What is your favorite recipe based off of a commercial style?
Do you have a favorite homebrew trick or gadget that you’ve found to make your beer better/brewing easier, etc?
I’m not the only person I know who does this, but I have pre-mixed star san in a spray bottle that is with me always when I brew. It comes in handy often.
Describe your brew system.
Don’t have one at the moment!
How frequently do you brew (times per month or year)?
Between working at a homebrew store and my own hobby brewing, I was brewing about one a week! Now it’s a lot less, but still about once or twice a month.
What is your favorite malt? Why?
I love Belgian pale malt. It’s very versatile for my Belgian styles and I haven’t made a bad brew with it yet.
What is your favorite hop? Why?
I’m not a hop-head, but I’m starting to fall in love with Citra. My best beer to date was a Belgian blonde dry hopped with Citra. No matter what beer it is in, I can’t get enough Citra. I’m thinking of naming my future child Citra. Did I mention I love Citra hops?
What is your dream beer and food pairing?
Since it’s getting cold in Colorado, I’m all about the dark beer and cheese combo. I had a foreign stout with brie the other night and thought I had died and gone to heaven.
Do you have a favorite or house yeast? What qualities do you like about that yeast?
I can’t pick a favorite yeast…I love them all. They are actually little creatures, so each strain is different. Now that Wyeast 3724 and I have figured out how to work together, I like the depth it can produce. However, I also find that a good American ale yeast can make almost any beer delightful. I like to try new yeasts whenever I get the chance.
Do you belong to a homebrew club?
I recently started an all girls homebrew club called the Gambrinus’ Honeys. We have three members.
Is there any advice you would like to give to new homebrewers?
If you fail, try again! Stick with it, and keep brewing! Brew with other homebrewers whenever you can, you learn a lot from other people!