The Lord's Favorite Homebrew Club

Andrew Ayers.

October 2015

Project Description

I’ve been a homebrewer since: 2011. I started with a complete kit as a Christmas gift and brewed three extract batches before jumping into all-grain.

What is your favorite style(s) to brew? Stouts and Porters are probably my favorite style to brew simply because they’re my favorite styles to drink. From a technical standpoint, I like brewing Farmhouse beers because it’s possible to take a simple recipe and produce something complex and unique through fermentation experimentation.

What was the first beer you ever brewed?  How did it turn out? My first beer was a Weissbeir extract kit from The Beer Nut. I had no idea what I was doing and, while I was methodical about following the instructions, I had no understanding of the fermentation process and left it somewhere warm and uncontrolled. It turned out an estery mess of a beer that really wasn’t drinkable.

What is your favorite beer recipe? A toss-up. On one hand, I would say My Scottish 80/- recipe. It was my first original recipe after many batches of copying others. It’s very simple, but always good and it’s placed each year I’ve entered it in the Beehive Brewoff. On the other hand, I’d say the clone recipe I’ve made up for Left Hand Milk Stout. It’s the beer that got me into homebrewing and I’ve spent many batches working on small tweaks to malt selection and percentages to get it just right. Look for it on the website shortly!

Are you a BJCP Judge?  If so, what is your rank and how long have you been judging? Not yet. I’ve taken the online exam and I had scheduled the tasting exam, but it was the same day as Great American Beer Festival, so I had to make the hard, but obvious choice! I hope to get to a tasting exam somewhere this year.

Do you have a favorite homebrew trick or gadget that you’ve found to make your beer better/brewing easier, etc? Probably the most useful and cheapest gadget is the biodiesel screens I use on my fermentation buckets. They fit right onto a 6.5g fermentation bucket and can filter a lot of trub and hop matter while aerating the wort at the same time. They cost about $10 and I use them with every batch. 

Describe your brew system. It’s an all-electric system. I use 10g vessels and brew for 5g batches. It’s in my basement and it’s run by an electrical control panel and an iPad via BCS Controller Software. I ran dedicated plumbing so I have carbon-filtered water going into the HLT. I use all Blichmann equipment and I have a RIMS for mash temperature control and a whirpool arm and plate chiller for whirlpool temperature control. The only thing I would change out is the Blichmann sparge arm. It works fine as a sparge arm, but isn’t quite as effective as a mash recirculation device. I feel like it creates some channeling in the grain bed, but I’m still geting 80+% effeciency, so I guess I shouldn’t complain! I also have two freezers, each with temperature control, for use as fermentation chambers.

How frequently do you brew (times/month or /year)? I try to brew weekly, but occassionally I miss a week. I feel like it’s imperative to brew on a regular and frequent basis in order to continue to learn and progress. I brew a lot of beers that may not be my first drinking choice, but I choose them to test my abilities and learn about brewing techniques. I see brewing and drinking as very different experiences and I brew a lot just for the experience of creating something and trying new things.

What is your favorite malt?  Why? Probably Golden Promise. It’s a great compromise between domestic 2-row and Maris Otter where you get some sweetness without the additional rich breadiness. It’s a great all-purpose base malt for a wide variety of styles and can really add a subtle layer of complexity to a lot of pale beers where people wouldn’t think to use it. I’ve got a Golden Promise Pale Ale recipe that I’m always tweaking. My other favorite is Special B. One of my first all-grain beers was a Belgian Dark Strong. I remember tasting Special B and thinking it was a malt that really defined the character I was looking for. The sweet burnt sugar and drief druit character really opened my eyes to how diverse brewing could be.

What is your favorite hop? Why? Tough one. It’s boring, but I like high Alpha Acid hops in bulk. When I brewed my Pro-Am beer with Left Hand, I had a conversation about this with Ro, the head brewer. I noted that they were using Columbus for bittering in Milk Stout even though their website said they use Magnum. Ro said “For a brewery of our size, for bittering we’re buying BUs, not character. If I can get 18% Columbus for the same price as 13% Magnum, I’m buying Columbus.” That stuck with me in that, in the beginning of my brewing, I followed recipes to the letter. Now I buy what’s cheap as a foundation and build character with other hops from there. For aroma hops, I think Equinox is my current favorite. It’s got that pungent tropical fruit character, but there’s a complexity to it that also has a unique earthy, fruity note.

Do you have a favorite or house yeast? What qualities do you like about that yeast?  Definitely Wyeast 1968 London ESB. The best thing about it is that it’s VERY flocculent. It’s also pretty nuetral in the min-60F range, so it can be used for a lot of styles that aren’t English. I also generally use Wyeast 3711 French Saison in all my Farmhouse beers. It’s got that bright peppery, spiciness without a lot of other stuff thrown in.

Do you have a good homebrew club story you’d like to share? It’s not necessarily so interesting as a story, but just the story of my first meeting. I’m somewhat intorverted by nature, so when Jamie at The Beer Nut recommended I come to a Lauter Day Brewers meeting, I was initially reluctant. I already knew Chance from Salt City, so I mentioned it to him one day and he gave me the information on the next meeting. I showed up with a wood-aged stout and say quietly while everyone did their thing. When it was time for my beer to be poured, people started talking about the beer and asking me questions and suddenly I felt like part of the group. There was no judgement, just a mutal interest in the beer. In two years since then, I’ve only missed two meetings and I feel confident saying we have one of the best brew clubs out there and the best people as our members!

What’s the most unusual ingredient you’ve ever used in a brew? Probably lavender, which we used in one of our test batches for the Epic Annex club competition. We used Lavender and Rose Hips, so it was like drinking a Wit beer with your grandma. It wasn’t good, but it was unique!

How many medals have you won from homebrew competitions? Quite a few. I’ve been really aggressive about entering competitions because, like most people, I’m my own worst ciritc and I know I’m not really evaulating my beer objectively. So, in addition to the Utah competitions, I’ve sent my beer out to competitions in Colorado, South Dakota, California, and shortly, Montana. I’ve had a lot of success, which I’m proud of, but I still manage to sneak a terrible beer in now and then. My record low score is currently a 16!

Project Details

  • Client Andrew Ayers
  • Date October 6, 2015
  • Tags Member Profiles
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