I remember the first time I had a beer that wasn’t a light American lager. I was at a comedy show in Anaheim, California in 2001 and a friend recommended I try something other than Coors Light. I told him that I was happy with what I was drinking, but he insisted. He ordered me a New Castle brown ale. While this isn’t the best brown ale in the world, it’s a step above the normal BMC (Bud, Miller, Coors) that I was used to drinking, and it was quite shocking to my then infantile palate. I was blown away by it’s flavor, and had a couple more that night. It was a fun night.
In the years following that night, I dabbled with different styles of beer, but stood strong with the BMC beers I knew, only because I had no idea what I was drinking when I tried new beers. It wasn’t until late 2009 that I was officially introduced to and immersed in the world or craft beer.
There’s a history behind the show New Brew Thursday which I won’t really get into here. In 2009 I joined the show, and in short, it was a crash course in craft beer for me. I learned a lot about beer, beer styles, sensory analysis, food and beer pairings, and the people behind it all. I was also introduced to a vibrant community of craft beer drinkers and homebrewers, and I wouldn’t trade my time with that show for anything in the world.
I started homebrewing in 2011. My girlfriend bought me a homebrew kit from Beer, Beer, and More Beer for Christmas the previous year. She also bought me John Palmer’s book, “How To Brew.” That book changed my life, and I dove head first into homebrewing.
I brewed a couple batches of homebrew before that point with the NBT guys (Stephen Johnson and Brad Kohlenberg), but I never fully grasped the concepts of brewing. To be quite honest, I was terrified of what I was getting into. There’s A LOT to know about making consistently great beer. After reading the first few pages of Palmer’s book, however, I realized that it’s not that hard to get started making quality, quaffable homebrew, and I did just that, following Palmer’s guidance. It was pretty neat drinking my first carbonated bottle of brew. I MADE BEER!
I started with extract brewing. While I had pretty good results using extract malt, I decided a year into my homebrewing “career” that I wanted to go all-grain. Like everything I do, I decided to go in head first, and build what I thought to be the biggest, baddest, homebrewing setup I could build. I found an article in “Brew Your Own” magazine that featured this brewing stand called “Brutus 10,” built by this [super-rad] guy Lonnie Mac from Texas. It was awesome. AWESOME. I knew I needed to build something like it. I thought it would definitely help me make better beer, and at the end of the day, it really did.
I built my brewing stand all by myself, with the exception of the welding of the frame, which was done by a very good friend of mine (his name is Glenn Bancroft, and he’s one of the most talented elevator mechanics I know. I’m pretty sure this is the only place on the internet you’ll find his name). It was quite the endeavor. For one month, it was my life. I wanted to make my version of Lonnie’s stand perfect. When it was all said and done, I felt I had done just that.
I’ve brewed many great beers with my setup and made many modifications to the setup since then, but every brewday is different and a new learning experience. Homebrewing is about fun, friends, and good beer, but most importantly, it’s about learning and discipline.
I love homebrewing and craft beer, and all of the people around the world who brew, drink, sell, deliver, pour, blog, and advocate for quality beer. I also love podcasting, so here I am.
So, here’s to great beer and great friends. Cheers, and enjoy the show!