Who Are You: My name is Clarence R. Swann III, I'm 33 years old and I presently live in Westminster, MD but will be moving to Gettysburg, PA in a few weeks. I have enjoyed and loved craft beer over the last ten years, and have talked much about homebrewing. So one day my wife bought me a starter equipment kit that came with an extract recipe from Midwest (Groupon Deal) - and I was hooked. Life got busy after a few batches, but subsequent to a six month hiatus, I eventaully got the itch to get back in, and boy did it take off.... now here I am, a full-fledged brewing hobbyist and enthusiast.
Home Town: Baltimore, MD, hon!
Homebrew Club: Midnight Homebrewers' League (Carroll County, MD)
I've been a homebrewer since: October 2012
Do you have a homebrewing disaster you'd like to share? First extract partial boil recipe kit. Topped up with too much water and ended up with a 3% ABV, very light bodied beer. The mistake really got me into reading up on process and methodology.
What is your favorite style(s) to brew? Mostly IPA, APA because that is what I like to drink. But also the occasional Sweet Stout and American or English Brown.
What style(s) will you never brew? Adjunct Lager
What was the first beer you ever brewed? How did it turn out? It was the beer from the disaster above, though it turned out OK, but nothing to brag over. It really lit a fire up under my butt to learn as much as possible.
Have you ever had a homebrew mistake that turned out great? Mosaic Pale Ale that had the yeast pitched too warm, which resulted in some ester production, but somehow it complemented the tropical fruitiness of the Mosaic hops. Probably won't attempt to recreate it, but it was interesting.
What is your favorite beer recipe? An IPA recipe which I am trying to craft as my "house beer" - it is a West Coast styled, dry, hop blasted IPA with almost all the hop additions as Simcoe and Amarillo. I've brewed it about four times now and have been tweaking it since I was still extract/partial mash brewing.
Are you a BJCP Judge? If so, what is your rank and how long have you been judging? I am not, but my homebrew club members are inspiring me to become one.
Do you have a favorite homebrew trick or gadget that you've found to make your beer better/brewing easier, etc? Denny Conn's batch sparging process and equipment guidelines have helped my jump into all grain after toying with BIAB/MIAB. As to a gadget, though they are commonplace, definitely my chest freezer fermentation chamber has really improved my beer by being able accurately control my fermentation temperatures and schedules.
Describe your brew system. I brew on the stove top with an open coil electric range using a wide bodied 10 gallon stainless kettle with a ball valve and thermometer. I batch sparge in a Home Depot 10 gallon cylindrical beverage cooler with a brass ball valve and bulkhead with a braided ring on the bottom attached to a T-fitting. I live in a top floor apartment, so the stove top is a must, and I need to utilize two coil burners to get full 8 gallon boils rolling and maintained.
How frequently do you brew (times/month or /year)? On average, about twice per month, but sometimes my schedule allows me up to three times per month. Roughly 24-28 times per year (5 gallon batches).
What is your favorite malt? Why? Maris Otter, because of its rich, bready taste and overall consistency among other pale malts I use.
What is your favorite hop? Why? Simcoe, because it is complex, dank, earthy and piney, with a funky cat piss character that for some reason I can't get enough of.
Do you have a favorite or house yeast? What qualities do you like about that yeast? I use mostly the Chico strain in the form of US-05 because of its ease of use, just re-hydrate and pitch one to two packets as needed. I've also used WLP001, and have harvested it from starters. I prefer Chico because it is clean fermenting, has a wide temperature range, and allows the hops to really stand out.
Do you have a good homebrew club story you'd like to share? I am rather new to my homebrew club, but have also been very active, and am on the standing 20th Anniversary Committee. My best stories are from the club events, like our annual Brew-Ha-Ha, which is an all day brewing event. This past year we had about 20 brewers, probably up to 50-60 people, tons of food, guitar and banjo picking. Our club is mostly mid-30's to middle aged folks, though they throw parties that rival anything that I've experienced in my earlier years. Plenty of great food, better beer and more overall alcohol. Always a good time!
If you could serve your homebrew to someone famous, who would it be and what would you give her/him? Probably Sam Calagione, because he is so animated, I'd just use it as a chance to be entertained by his antics.
Do you brew alone, with friends or with someone you live with? I brew mostly alone, but recently started doing split 10 gallon batches with another club member.
Are you an indoor or outdoor brewer? Mostly indoor, but occasionally outdoor - soon to be strictly outdoor.
List some of the names you've given your beers. Which is your favorite? Ember Ale, Crossland Pale, Piedmont Brown, HefeWizeAss. My favorite, is my "Snallygaster" IPA, the aforementioned house recipe. The Snallygaster is an old folklore creature who dwells in the Appalachians, of which its foothills is where I live.