Who Are You (please include a picture): David Zach aka Zacher
Home Town (City, State): Phoenixville, PA (Valley Forge outside of Philly)
Homebrew Club: Mainline Homebrewers (although I've only made one meeting)
I've been a homebrewer since: 1995
Do you have a homebrewing disaster you'd like to share?
Several boil-overs in my extract days back in the mid-90's. Hop/wort gunk everywhere in the little stove in my row home. My all-grain debacle was last fall making a Pumpkin Ale with canned pumpkin (I usually use whole). I did not add enough rice hulls and the sparge stuck solid. My final attempt to save it was to disconnect the stainless strainer and strain it through a fine mesh bucket bag. So I filled the MT up with ice water which got the temp down to 125F which is still darn hot to the touch. I sanitized a garbage bag, put my arm in it and tried pulling off the strainer while yelping in pain from the heat. I finally managed to get it off, but the frayed wires tore the bag and filled it with hot, orange, pumpkin wort. After getting drenched with wort and having a red burnt arm I finally called it quits and tossed it. What a fiasco and mess!
What is your favorite style(s) to brew?
German Lagers, Pale Ales (IPAs) and Steam Beer. However I just counted and I've brewed 34 different styles to date so I guess I also like to expand my brewing horizons.
What style(s) will you never brew?
Sour beer unless Kyle convinces me otherwise at the NHC.
What was the first beer you ever brewed? How did it turn out?
My first extract brew was "The Sun has Left us On-Time Steam Beer" from the Complete Joy of Homebrewing, 1991. It was really good and I was hooked. After a 7 year hiatus I brewed my first all-grain and that was a SMaSH Pale Ale which also turned out great. I was re-hooked.
Have you ever had a homebrew mistake that turned out great?
Nope. All of my mistakes have been complete disasters. I've dumped 5 of 120 all-grain brews and 4 were because I did something dumb. One was from bad yeast.
I did however forget about a case of extract lager in my basement fridge for a year. When I was moving out I found it and it was awesome!
What is your favorite beer recipe?
My Guiness Clone.
Are you a BJCP Judge? If so, what is your rank and how long have you been judging?
Nope. Maybe some day....
Do you have a good beer judging story you'd like to share with the rest of the homebrewing world?
Do you have a favorite homebrew trick or gadget that you've found to make your beer better/brewing easier, etc?
My go-tap has made me a lot of friends at tailgates and picnics. (it has since been stained)
I like my homemade sparge arm too.
Describe your brew system.
Basic gravity system with 2 home depot coolers. 15G kettle and Bayou Classic burner.
EDIT: I have started accumulating pieces for my Brutus 20. Hopefully by the end of 2013.....
How frequently do you brew (times/month or /year)?
I try to brew weekly but it ends up being 2-3x/month.
What is your favorite malt? Why?
I don't really have a favorite. I participate in group buys and like to switch it up, but they all make good beer in my opinion. I guess my malt palate is not too refined....
What is your favorite hop? Why?
My homegrown Cascades!
Do you have a favorite or house yeast? What qualities do you like about that yeast?
My favorite yeast is White Labs 037. It imparts a distinctive nutty, sharp flavor that I have not found from any other strain. Truly a unique, super yeast.
Do you have a good homebrew club story you'd like to share?
I made one meeting about 3 years ago and the speaker was a BJCP Judge and brewery owner. He was tasting an IPA from a newer brewer and explaining why adding 8oz of hops for 130IBUs at 60 minutes is not necessarily a good thing when I walked by and he saw I had an IPA as well. He asked for a taste and said "now this is how an IPA is supposed to taste" and offered the guy a sip. I was a little uncomfortable for the guy and felt bad, but I also felt a little proud....
What haven't we asked that you would really like to answer?
Will you be at the NHC?
Yes and I hope to share a brew with many of you whom I learned from and talked with over the past 2 years on the forum.
If you could serve your homebrew to someone famous, who would it be and what would you give her/him?
Benjamin Franklin. It is well known he loved his beer and living in Philly for over 20 years I have learned a lot about him. He was also a master diplomat and outright genius so I think the conversation and stories he could tell would be quite riveting and fun. I would serve my Ben Franklin Revolutionary Red Ale (recipe to be formulated).
Can you send a picture or two of some labels you've created for your homebrew?
What's the most unusual ingredient you've ever used in a brew?
Horseradish Paste in my Winter Fest.
Do you have any pets or kids named after beer styles or ingredients?
How many medals have you won from homebrew competitions?
This year's NHC is my first competition. I have entered 4 styles.
Do you brew alone, with friends or with someone you live with?
I typically brew alone unless I am making a style for a friend. Then we brew it together and they take home a case (they have to bottle it though). I also host an event called "Man Day" twice a year. I boot out the wife and child for an afternoon and invite over 15 or so of my buddies. I ask for suggestions for style and one guy gets to make the beer (with a little supervision) and take some home when it's done. For holiday Man Day, I trade 5G of my famous Guiness Clone with my buddy who is a certified Whiskey Master for a bottle of high-end single malt. Everyone brings their favorite whiskey to be evaluated and discussed. After the whiskey tasting, brewing, cigar smoking and trash talking is done, the wives are invited back for a party which typically goes in to the wee hours. I love Man Day!
Are you an indoor or outdoor brewer?
I like to fly sparge in my garage when it's warm enough. If it's too cold I'll batch sparge in my mud room. I have to boil outside no matter what though.
List some of the names you've given your beers. Which is your favorite?
I’m kinda lame with the beer naming. I typically just put a “Z” in front of the name of the style like Z-ESB, Zurquell or ZAIPA. I grew up being called Zacher or “Z”. If there is a good one from this it’s possibly “Z’s 10 Gallons of Lager Goodness”.
However, I name the beers for the friends I brew them for after them: Steve Miller-Steam, Ray Ray’s Honey Oat Stout, Big Don’s Becks, Butch-Urquell, Mr. Ed’s Nut Brown Ale and my personal favorite since my brother is a priest: Father Pilsner.