Author Topic: Brewer Profile: Matt Chrispen  (Read 1286 times)

Offline mchrispen

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Brewer Profile: Matt Chrispen
« on: January 07, 2015, 08:35:29 PM »

Brewer Bio: Matt Chrispen
Bastrop, Texas
Austin Zealots
Accidentalis.com


I have been homebrewing since my idiot best friend gave me a Mr. Beer kit for my birthday in 2009, along with a case of extract kits. Fortunately he had to drink some of those first beers, karma for getting me started down this road. But I was hooked and started planning to move past the little brown plastic keg. Too bad my buddy is not a beer guy! Still working on that. I moved onto a couple of partial mash recipes, quickly switched to all grain and built a cooler tun.

I love to brew Belgian styles of all sorts. But that was largely out of lack of fermentation space and controls. Saisons at room temperature often work well. I have upgraded and have tight fermentation temperature control and finally brewed a German Pils that turned out great, but a bit too hoppy for competition. A well-made saison remains my absolute favorite style. For a beer that focuses so intently on yeast character, it remains a fairly delicate style and difficult to really get ‘right.’

I would love to brew through every style, and now really exploring British style beers. While I love saisons and tripels, I have spent a good deal of time in Sheffield, England and have been taken with milds and bitters. Every year I try to pick a theme or a region to explore – so in 2015 I will make at least one really good British style beer, and probably a few that fall short till I get the recipe right. I still love hoppy beers, but have been finding that I really dig well-made malt forward beers. To that end, fresh bags of Maris Otter, Munich and Golden Promise are always on the list.
I chose a direction in my brewing that avoided spending a lot of time engineering a brewing system, and sold a sports car to buy a Sabco system. I love it. It has allowed me to master the system quickly and focus on technique and recipe creation… my only regret is that it took 4 more years to pull the trigger on fermentation freezers and conicals. My beers have dramatically improved with even a few degrees lower fermentation – even on those funky and wild saisons.

My most common problem, less disaster than distraction, is that I seem to have a propensity to fill a fermenter, but leave the valve or spigot open. I managed to lose 5 gallons of a lovely saison onto the floor of my garage once. More recently – I have lost just a few pints. I now use sticky notes to remind me! It’s not that hard… the valves should be closed before you add wort!

Because of the lack of community around the Sabco V350 system, I started a blog that focuses a lot of that brewing rig at Accidentalis.com. The response has been great, and I try to be as honest as possible about my successes and failures. After running the system for 5 years, I have slowly been modifying aspects of the system to integrate a large hopback, replaced the plate chiller with a counterflow setup and even added a small CIP rig. At this point, the brewery has taken over the garage! It’s a nice space and lets me easily brew a few times a month, even with the horrible summer heat.


I also discovered that my water was awful for brewing (thanks Martin Brungard!) and have been really focused on exploring water chemistry. Using reverse osmosis water and learning to properly use the Bru’n Water spreadsheet has increased my beer quality and become another central theme of the blog. I am a bit of an OCD brewer, so prioritizing where my beers where faltering and addressing those issues is probably the largest improvement. Good fermentations and addressing my water have allowed me to explore brewing with few fears of off flavors.


I plan to become a BJCP judge, and have been encouraged by my friends in the Zealots. Clearly it makes you a better brewer. I wish I was a super taster, but I am blind to some faults, but improving. I should, of course, apologize to the many judges who suffered from some of my past submissions – I brewed some terrific classic examples of off flavors! I now judge as often as I can and have learned a great deal from my experienced judging partners. Again – thank you BJCP judges for being patient and working with me to begin honing my senses.


Cooking and Brewing go hand in hand. Living in Texas, I have been trying to perfect my hand at smoked brisket in the same way I have I am working through my skills as a brewer. HINT: quality of meat is critical! I also love a perfect pulled pork (Carolina style) or smoked turkeys. I have recently become a fan of sous vide cooking, which has allowed amazing precision in my cooking. It has even convinced my wife that a perfect medium-rare steak is extraordinary. If there is a theme here, I love it when technology solves some of the difficult to master techniques.


As a diversion from much of my ‘clean’ brewing, I have fallen in love with barrel aged beers on wild yeast and bugs. My most recent medals were a gold and BOS placement (2nd runner up) with a funky saison aged for 4 months in a barrel, hit with Brett Brux and a variety of random dregs. Rather than developing a strong sourness, the brett drove pineapple and fruity aromas, with subtle chocolate and tobacco layers in the taste. Two batches later and the lacto finally kicked creating a really nice subtle sourness and more depth of flavor. I would say this is the counterpart to my OCD character – I really have little control over how those beers turn out – and they are often such wonderful beers.

We don’t have children, so our pets fill that void. That saison was brewed the day after the passing of our first dog and my distraction from grief. So I named it Sugar’s Benediction and its color perfectly matched her golden coat. The beer also mirrored her quirky personality and bossy behavior. She was nearing 17 years old, an old lady, a bit smelly and funky but in a good way – just like that saison after time in barrel. Fortunately it didn’t smell like her horrid dog breath! I have a few bottles squirreled away in her honor.

I have also started dabbling with cider, mead and wine, although beer is my first love. These are so easy compared to making beer that it almost seems cheating, but great rewards for a little effort and attention. Most recently I experimented with a dark and sweet bochet – and the results are incredible. I plan to make more batches in the coming year.


Most recently, I have been able to brew with friends. On one hand, I have helped a neighbor jump right into all grain brewing with good results. And on the other, it has been my privilege to brew with respected and experienced members of the Zealots and even a few professional brewers recently, both on my system and at their homes. So far none of them have turned their noses up at samples from my cellar. They have provided honest feedback and I cannot overestimate the value of having experienced brewers and judges to give you pointers!


My best advice, beyond the usual, is to seek out and find honest feedback and not to be afraid to hear the truth.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2015, 10:23:51 PM by mchrispen »

Offline 69franx

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Re: Brewer Profile: Matt Chrispen
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2015, 08:43:33 PM »
Great story and history. Thanks Matt!
Frank L.
Fermenting:
Conditioning:
In keg:
In Bottles:  
In the works: Hopefully brewing 10 gallons of Pilsner tomorrow for a family reunion in July, then back to IPA and  a barleywine to age

Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Brewer Profile: Matt Chrispen
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2015, 08:46:24 PM »
Nice job, Matt.  Another OCD brewer like me !
Jon H.

Offline Frankenbrew

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Re: Brewer Profile: Matt Chrispen
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2015, 01:19:47 AM »
Welcome, Matt! I'm beginning to think that being OCD is a pre-requisite to being a brewer. I think I've got it too.
Frank C.

And thereof comes the proverb: 'Blessing of your
heart, you brew good ale.'

Online blatz

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Re: Brewer Profile: Matt Chrispen
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2015, 02:52:48 AM »
Nice job, Matt.  Another OCD brewer like me !

it's CDO, dammit.

Welcome Matt
The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.

BJCP National: F0281

Offline JT

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Re: Brewer Profile: Matt Chrispen
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2015, 02:59:01 AM »
Nice job, Matt.  Another OCD brewer like me !

it's CDO, dammit.

Welcome Matt
So OCD he had to alphabetize it. 

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Brewer Profile: Matt Chrispen
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2015, 01:27:46 PM »
Welcome!
I had the opportunity to sample some of your club buddy's beer recently. Chris Rauschubber's Dunkel, Schwartbeir, and Barleywine. Awesome stuff! I still have a bottle of his Schwartz in the fridge. I might have to crack it tonight.

Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Brewer Profile: Matt Chrispen
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2015, 01:30:54 PM »
Nice job, Matt.  Another OCD brewer like me !

it's CDO, dammit.

Welcome Matt
So OCD he had to alphabetize it. 

My bad.     ;) 
Jon H.

Offline mchrispen

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Re: Brewer Profile: Matt Chrispen
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2015, 02:21:13 PM »

Welcome!
I had the opportunity to sample some of your club buddy's beer recently. Chris Rauschubber's Dunkel, Schwartbeir, and Barleywine. Awesome stuff! I still have a bottle of his Schwartz in the fridge. I might have to crack it tonight.

Chris is a great brewer and so generous with his advice and encouragement! That Dunkel is pretty amazing!

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Brewer Profile: Matt Chrispen
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2015, 07:52:00 PM »

Welcome!
I had the opportunity to sample some of your club buddy's beer recently. Chris Rauschubber's Dunkel, Schwartbeir, and Barleywine. Awesome stuff! I still have a bottle of his Schwartz in the fridge. I might have to crack it tonight.

Chris is a great brewer and so generous with his advice and encouragement! That Dunkel is pretty amazing!
Yes thats no doubt. Very well made