In September 2010 I took a trip with my wife to Milwaukee for the weekend. Ended up taking a tour of Miller Brewing, Sprecher Brewing, Lakefront Brewing and Milwaukee Brewing Co. I immediately began doing some research on what it takes to get into making my own homebrew as soon I got home that Sunday. By the end of September I had 3 batches under my belt all made with a Mr. Beer kit I purchased from a local store. By early October, I had purchased my first “Brewing Setup” consisting of a few 6 gallon pails, a hydrometer, auto-siphon, and other misc. equipment along with my first Brewers Best kit. My first choice was not the best choice; an IPA kit. It was not good. In fact, downright awful. I spent the next 6 months trying to improve. I would make batch after batch just trying to find out why everything was tasting similar and not that great. I may have had misguided self indulgence grandeur of making the next best thing; sadly that still hasn’t happened.
Fast forward to 2012. After several more upgrades to what I attempting to do; I purchased a kegging setup. Mostly because I had grown weary of capping 52-54 bottles in my kitchen on a regular basis. With the need no longer there for the bottles, I decided to put them for “sale” on a local website. I received an answer from a guy named Brent. We traded emails for a while and in one of those emails he noted that he was going to attend a Manty Malters club meeting on Thursday that week. I suggested that we meet up there to hand over the bottles and maybe take in this meeting as we were both in the same kind of boat on brewing. Not only did we stay and attend the meeting, we have both been members since then.
Huge leap to 2014/2015 – I worked with Jason and a few other fellow Malters on taking a BJCP prep course. My hope at the time was simply to get better at understanding what the differences were within the styles, detecting flaws and overall personal growth as a brewer. I took a lot away from that class and have stewarded at and judged at events since then. At present I am currently a BJCP Recognized Judge by passing my online exam and taking the BJCP tasting exam in October 2015 with hopes of moving up in rank and getting better at my skills. I am also currently the President of the Manty Malters Homebrew Club mentioned earlier. We have grown as a club and I have met a great group of homebrewers who are always willing to help and have done more for my brewing than they probably know. I owe them all a great debt.
Well, that’s enough about me; I got beer to brew, judge and enjoy. Happy Brewing Everyone!
Thanks for your support on Brewnology.com
My journey in beer didn’t start with brewing, it started by being exposed to beers beyond the pale light lagers. My first real beer was Hacker-Pschorr Weisse in 1995, and I loved the flavor…but not the price. Then a friend said “I read somewhere you can brew your own. We should look into that.”, which we did. It looked complicated and involved ingredients I knew I couldn’t get locally, like hops and malt extract. Then in 1999 I made an offhand comment to my wife that I would like to brew my own beer someday, then that Christmas I got my first beer kit. Granted, I had to drive 40 minutes away to some obscure brewing supply section in the upstairs of a store that sold outdoor equipment. But that was it, I was hooked. Even though I could only brew a few times a year, I knew this was a hobby I was falling in love with.
Then in 2005, I joined the newly reformed Manty Malters Homebrew club. It was also at this time, still brewing extract, I entered a homebrew competition and ended up taking a medal. That got me curious as to how beers are judged and evaluated. So I contacted the BJCP who pointed me in the direction of an upcoming homebrew competition to see if I could steward to see what the process was all about. So I called the organizer and he said that actually they were starting a BJCP Prep course in 2 weeks if I was interested, so I signed up. It was during this course that I got to sample all the styles of beer I previously was not exposed to, learned a lot about all grain brewing, and learned about off flavors. I made the jump to all grain during this time as well. After the course was complete it was time to take the exam, I set a goal for myself to score a minimum of a 70 on my first run through the exam, which I felt was a lofty goal for only being exposed to anything judging just 3 1/2 months prior and just having 1 all grain beer under my belt. Remember, this was during the legacy exam era where I had to take the written and tasting exam at the same time. I ended up scoring a 72, which I was very very happy with.
During the next few years I kept brewing, kept judging, was the President of the Manty Malters, had a son, went back to college, changed careers, and had another son. I also felt I needed an outlet for my passion besides just brewing, so I took up blogging. I started the Barleypopmaker.info blog which started out pretty slow, but over the years has gained a decent amount of traffic and I got a lot of opportunities to meet some cool people.
Something else I got into was home roasting grain, I was buying grains in bulk and thought I could develop my own specialty grains so I started experimenting and reading up on home roasting. I roasted a lot of grain during this period and entered home roasted beers into competition and won some 1st place awards with them. Once I started writing about the home roasting of grains, I realized there was a demand for more information based on web traffic. So I ended up writing a short eBook on the topic. This book did very well it’s first few weeks and even reached Amazon’s best sellers list for Kindle books in the beer category. I have also been a guest on the Super Brewer’s podcast and was a part of a 2 part series (Part 1 and Part 2) on home roasting.
Then in 2014 I decided I wanted to see if I could increase my rank, so I signed up to retake my written exam. I set a goal of shooting for the 80’s. Since most retakes only result in marginal increases, I was really hoping for low 80’s at least. When I got my results I had a great surprise and I was ecstatic. I scored in the 90’s. This not only brought my rank up to National, it also meant I no longer had to take the tasting exam again. Now, my focus is on retaking the written portion in an attempt reach the Master range.
One last thing exciting that I have been a part of just happened in 2015, I joined the panel of “expert” judges for The Beer Connoisseur Magazine , and that has been a real fun ride of evaluating some commercial beer from around the country. It’s really been a highlight part of my year in regards to my beer hobby so far. That is pretty much where I am today. Obviously I’m still brewing, I brew both extract beers and all grain, depending on how much time I have and what I feel like brewing. But I also love trying to help others achieve their brewing goals. This hobby has given me so much joy, I just want to give back in a way I feel I can.
Happy Brewing everyone!