Brewer of the Month – Will Schmidt
Home Town: Dalton, Massachusetts
Homebrew Club: Formerly of the Ohio River Valley Homebrewers Association in Evansville, IN; now proud new members of the Lauter Day Brewers!
I’ve been a homebrewer since: My first brew was in college in with a Mr. Beer kit in 2010, but I really got into homebrewing in the Fall of 2014, and made the jump to all grain in 2015.
Do you have a homebrewing disaster you’d like to share? The biggest disaster I recall was while making an extract brew of an Imperial Stout with an OG of 1.106 and fermenting it in my bucket. I used WLP007 and it took off like a rocket. I got back from from work to hear an odd hissing sound from the closet the beer was fermenting in, it was the air escaping around the bucket lid seal because the airlock was clogged. Armed with a towel and not quite fast enough reflexes, I removed the airlock and the ensuing gyser of frothy fermenting beer and hop bits came out of the bucket lid hole so fast that it sprayed all over me, the walls and ceiling of the closet. It took 2 days, a paint scraper and a new coat of paint to fully eliminate the mess. Since then, all high gravity brews and English/fast fermenting yeast strains get 1/2″ blow off tubes and 1 gallon jug to blow into. Beer turned out great by the way.
Do you have a good beer judging story you’d like to share with the rest of the homebrewing world? My staples rotate based on the season and are typically some type of dark lager, like a Bock or Oktoberfest, English Bitter, American Pale Ale and either or an American Porter or Stout.
What style(s) will you never brew? Nothing is off limits, I just need to figure out how to do it.
What was the first beer you ever brewed? How did it turn out? My first brew was in college and supposed to be some type of blonde ale which the college age brain said to add more sugar to… cause more sugar = more alcohol = better beer, right? Let’s summarize that it was awful. The real kick start was my second beer, which I brewed with a friend who was a very competent homebrewer. We made a Vienna Lager, and that’s what turn on my love of brewing.
Have you ever had a homebrew mistake that turned out great? I messed up my sparge on a bock beer I was making one spring and the resulting beer ended up having a lot lower sugar/alcohol content than I planned. I called it Baby Got Bock, modified the recipe and it’s now a summer staple.
What is your favorite beer recipe? My favorite recipe is my Just Mozzin’ with Ya Pale Ale. It’s a balanced pale ale with a lean towards malt utilizing citra and mosaic hops.
Are you a BJCP Judge? If so, what is your rank and how long have you been judging? No, but I was studying with the other judges to test, and then I moved to Utah.
Do you have a good beer judging story you’d like to share with the rest of the homebrewing world? When I was working at the Indiana Brewers cup, I learned that the winners of some of the categories are not always the beer you might want to drink everyday, but are typically brewed towards the maximum end of the style guidelines or more towards the judges internal preference. We are all human and you should brew what you like.
Do you have a favorite homebrew trick or gadget that you’ve found to make your beer better/brewing easier, etc? A thermostat and a small chest freezer. Temperature control is super important for good fermentation. Happy Yeast = Happy Beer!
Describe your brew system. My brew system is your standard 10 gallon SS kettle, a large banjo burner, 10 gallon orange drink cooler mash tun with a SS false bottom. I have been using a DIY false bottom for several years with a Brew in a Bag bag as a secondary filter, but I finally upgraded to a proper false bottom.
How frequently do you brew (times/month or /year)? I used to brew every month, and sometimes more often depending on friend gatherings, festivals, etc. Since I’ve moved to Utah, I’ve been brewing once every other month.
What is your favorite malt? Why? I tend to have some amount of Munich 20 L from Weyermann in a fair amount of my recipes. The content varies based on what I am making, but I love the subtle caramel grainy notes that the malt brings to the beer.
What is your favorite hop? Why? Hands down, Northern Brewer. It is one of my favorite bittering hops due to how clean the bitterness is. I will use it as a finishing hop in some lager styles as well due to it’s lightly herbal and earthy aroma that really balances well with malty beers.
Do you have a favorite or house yeast? What qualities do you like about that yeast? I really like S-23 dry lager yeast. It’s nearly fool-proof. It will ferment at nearly any temperature and produce a nice lager style. I have even fermented beers at ale temps to produce clean ales.
Do you have a good homebrew club story you’d like to share? The club in Indiana did an annual bourbon barrel aged brew. A few years ago, one of our members took a sample of the brew from the large stainless fermenter right before the club was to transfer it into the barrel. Unknown to anyone, his act of taking the sample sucked up some gunk from the blow off bucket and contaminated the entire beer and barrel! The club ended up with 50 gallons of vegetable brown ale with a light bourbon hint.
What haven’t we asked that you would really like to answer? The best advice to give any homebrewer: Keep everything clean and sanitized, and don’t panic.
If you could serve your homebrew to someone famous, who would it be and what would you give her/him? I would like to serve my homebrew to Jim Koch, founder of Sam Adams, and I would serve him an Oktoberfest because its the best beer to have some food and a good conversation about beer with.
Can you send a picture or two of some labels you’ve created for your homebrew? A friend wanted a wee heavy, so I made him one with a label.
What’s the most unusual ingredient you’ve ever used in a brew? Bacon. On a bet, I made a Maple Bacon Whiskey Porter. It was called, Ron Swansonade. It turned out really well.
Do you have any pets or kids named after beer styles or ingredients? No, but it’s not off the table for the future!
How many medals have you won from homebrew competitions? Zero, I’ve only entered 2 competitions and I entered them when I was just getting started and was looking for non-biased feedback.
Do you brew alone, with friends or with someone you live with? I love brewing with other people, be it friends or my soon-to-be wife, Kelly!
Are you an indoor or outdoor brewer? Outdoor brewer, until I build my dream 15 gallon electric brewery.
List some of the names you’ve given your beers. Which is your favorite? I love puns, many of my beer names some type of a pun or are related to a conversation had on brew day. My favorite one is what I name the beer I brew on Jan 1 each year, “Out with the Old, in with the Brew.”