So, can you tell us how it all started for you?
It was when me and my now wife started dating. We met at a craftbeer bar called Hop Scholar in Spring, TX and it kind of escalated from there as it was my first taste of craft beer. My brother was starting to homebrew and my uncle just recently purchased a restaurant that he planned on turning into a brew pub called Gordon Street Tavern in Alvin, TX. After brewing with my brother a couple of times I knew I wanted to do the same. We moved to Denver, CO over the summer of 2017 and splurged on new equipment.
What was your first brew and how did it turn out?
The first brew as a split batch 5 gallon Pilsner and 5 gallon Blonde Ale. It was actually really good and so we knew we were headed in the right direction. We have since tweaked the pilsner recipe, but do not brew the blonde ale anymore.
Were there any mishaps / funny moments along the way leading to now?
The worst mishap occurred when I was building the electrical control box. I spent around 7 hours wiring it up only to have it nearly explode in my hands after trying to turn it on. Luckily the only thing that was fried was the step down transformers which in effect saved the rest of the box. It was a good lesson in electrical wiring. So far the only funny thing that really happened was probably the mass amount of phone calls I received from suppliers. While the house was being packed in The Woodlands, TX for our eventual move the next day, I was ordering about $6000.00 worth of parts to have delivered to our new address in Denver, CO. I got so many fraud related calls it was hard to keep up with. It was also not very smart on me to have all this stuff delivered while trying to move in. The amount of boxes between brewing equipment and household items was unfathomable.
Are there any pieces of equipment that you are looking to buy soon, or are converting for the future?
As it stand we nearly have everything that we want. In the near future we will be getting some 5 gallon or 10 gallon oak barrels. I was lucky that my wife got me a small 1.3 gallon new oak barrel for playing around with. Once it goes neutral we will start barrel souring. Other than that, we would give an arm and a leg for a fleet of Stainless Conical fermenters temperature controlled with glycol.
Bottle or Keg?
Keg, Keg, Keg. We have bottled only once. Never again, unless for a quick outing when we only need a few. Or if we plan on aging something. Still, bottling is a PTA. Kegs are cleaner and quicker. As it stands we have 6 in a fridge turned kegerator and 4 kegs in another fridge that we use for lagering.
What is your go to recipe or signature brew?
Anything with Mosaic, SMaSH Mosaic, Single Hop Mosaic, Mosaic with Mosaic. It is easily my wife’s favourite hop. Getting her to drink my home brew over commercially available beer is the number one priority so I can brew more.
What is your schedule for a typical brew day?
The night before we measure and crush grain into an airtight bucket, but prior to that we propagate yeast from my bank. Whether it be from a single celled slant or from an over build from a previous brew day. The mornings usually start at 6am as we are less likely to drink homebrew while brewing that early. Otherwise we just turn on the R/O water and let it fill and heat the strike water. With the system being all electric we can walk away and the system regulates the temperature and will sound an alarm when it’s ready to go. This includes mash times, fly sparge times, and boil times. They are all rigged to alarm so while we are brewing, we are also cleaning the house, doing chores, or hanging out on the couch. Good thing it is all automated other than cleaning, our brew days last between 8 to 12 hours
What do you love about home brewing and the industry in general?
Beer that we can control. It helps you learn about flavours and ingredients so when we go out to a brewery we can easily figure out what we want to drink or what we should try so that we can get a good handle on if we should do something similar at home. The industry is amazing, we have met some many great people through it. From head brewers, to owners, to the common beer nerd, there aren’t too many assholes that enjoy drinking craft beer.
Are you attending any festivals / competitions in the coming months?
Unfortunately, no. We haven’t looked up too many competitions in the area and the last time we were planning on entering…. Well… we drank all the beer first haha.
What are your plans for the future and where do you think the industry is headed?
The plans for the future is to just keep brewing. We recently kegged 3 of are larger ABV beers that we had bulk conditioning for 4/5 months and now it’s time to rebrew some more largers beers to have them sit for 6 months as we prep barrels for them.
Overall, we believe the industry is headed in the way of more brewpubs. Production only breweries are great, but to market toward the average non craft beer drinker they need to be paired with food. People go out to restaurants all the time, why not have a brew pub on every corner like a restaurant. You can only get their beer if you go to their location so it would only need to be small batches and would cut out the cost of distribution.
Are there any breweries that you admire for what they are producing?
There are some great beers out there. It is tough to say we admire anyone specifically for what they are brewing. We are more interested in the people behind the brews. So we go out of our way to “admire” those that make craft beer what it is at its core. That being said;
Back Pew Brewing; Porter, TX
Stable Craft Brewing; Waynesboro, VA
Apocalypse Ale Works; Forest, VA
Mad Fritz Brewing; St. Helena, CA
Boggy Draw Brewery; Sheridan, CO
Finally, what is the name of your “one day” brewery?
Garnet Heart Brewery. Named for our blog @Garnet_Heart_ #GarnetHeartBeer
So there you have it, another interesting interview with a homebrewer – a big thank you to Garnet Heart for giving up their time. If you fancy being interviewed please feel free to get in touch.