I'm Steve from Bowling Green, Ohio. I have been brewing for about 11 years, with the past 5 or 6 as an obsessive homebrewer. I am a microbiologist by training, and am pursuing a phd in the same field. I am introducing beer making into a lab I teach, and am hoping to generate enough interest to start a local homebrew club with students, friends and faculty.
There really isn't much that goes on in Bowling Green, and my work keeps me in the lab most of the day and tied to the area, so I have been brewing more now then I ever have before. I find brewing to be a fundamental part of my life; it's how I relieve stress, break the ice with girls ( if a 11 hour, triple decoction mash partigyle brew session isn't a hell of a first date, I don't know what is), and regain my sanity when my research just doesn't make sense. I have literally converted my small apartment into a brewery with a bed, and often daydream about recipes and the ingredients I plan to buy with my next crappy paycheck!
In my academic career, I am responsible for designing and carrying out valid scientific experiments, and often use a scientific approach to my brewing process. I like to use a purposeful approach to designing beers, especially sour ales. Having worked with bacteria for about 7 years, I don't find that they are difficult to work with or as unpredictable as many other brewers have experienced, at least with the 5-10 gallon brews I make. I have had poor luck with wild fermentation in this area (I may be crazy, but there is very little pollution here, which makes for too 'clean' wild beers in my experience), but have had good results using Brett and prokaryotes to sour beer. I am just getting into lagers and hope to use some cold-tolerant Lactobacillus to make some interesting beer in the near future.
In addition to the sour beers, I brew a few styles of lager and many styles of ale. I make a great chocolate milk imperial stout (fortified with the 200 proof ethanol I use to extract cacao nibs) that I keep on tap all year round along along with a Sierra Nevada PA clone that is not quite right but well loved by myself and friends. I have a weird yet nerdy standard operating procedure I follow that I would like to share: Twice a year, at approximately 6 month intervals, I brew a lightly hopped American ale. This isn't just to appease my bud-drinking friends, but is to ensure I am able to reproduce the same beer consistently on my system. This style doesn't hide flaws well, and I am able to either verify my system is all good, or identify potential problems. I was even able to detect a plastic-y flavor that was leaching from a supposedly high-temp hose connecting the false bottom to the ball valve in my mash tun. I absolutely recommend validating your equipment at regular intervals!
I typically brew alone and have never entered a beer into competition. I want to become more active in the homebrewing community as I am able, and plan on writing up some of my past experiments with sour beers and submitting them to the AHA for others to enjoy.
Thanks for reading!