In this blog series, we'll be interviewing some of the brewers from our homebrew club to give you an idea of what got them into brewing, what they're currently experimenting with and to hopefully inspire others to take the leap into brewing their own beer at home. The 11th blog in the series features Caleb.
How did you get into homebrewing?
During lockdown I started spending more time in my garden drinking beer but struggled to find an easy place to get quality beer since most places were closed or were only doing online orders. I had also recently developed a taste for sour beers, which was mostly brought on by a visit to Wicked Weed's Funkatorium in Asheville North Carolina but also from the many creative sours coming out of my nearest brewery Brick Brewery in Peckham. At the time I was drinking a lot of Brick Brewery's Strawberry Cucumber sour until after a few months they stopped selling it. Instead of just finding another equally refreshing summer beer I decided to try and brew some of my own. I started simple and eventually worked my way up to kettle sours but summer was long over by then.
Current Set up:
- Brewzilla 35L
- Stainless steel fermenter:
- Corny keg and spunding valve
- Tilt Hydrometer
Best piece of homebrewing equipment you own:
The Brewzilla and Tilt are awesome but I think the best and most underrated kit I have is the Ferminator. Sure, you can cobble together your own with a minifridge, inkbird and heating pad for quite a bit less money but for a little extra you get a lot more space (it's expandable) and it all just works out of the box. Having that temperature control allows fermenting lager at 12C and kveik at 40C with the same kit and I've even noticed a significant improvement in the room temp (20C) ales that I used to ferment in a temp stable closet.
I'd eventually like to upgrade to a ~65L system for the occasional brew that just needs to be bigger. I've been eyeing up the Brewzilla gen 4 65L recently but it doesn't seem to be available in the UK just yet.
What's your go to style?:
NEIPAs or fruited sours
How did the pandemic affect/change your brewing?
I didn't start brewing until the pandemic but I think all the working from home makes it easier to brew if anything. Sometimes I'll drag all the kit into the kitchen during my lunch break and then set it to start heating the strike water just before I get off work. That way I can go straight into a mash when I get off work and be able to finish at a decent time of night.
Which beer that you’ve brewed are you most proud of?
The strawberry and cucumber sour that I cloned from Brick Brewery. In some ways it was the beer that got me into brewing and it was the first sour that I managed to brew half well.
What brews have you got planned in the next few months:
I'm hoping to try and do a few small batches with various types of Brett over the summer. I've never used any Brett so it should be a learning experience that hopefully ends with drinkable beer.
Competitions entered/ placings:
I entered the LAB competition this past May with a strawberry and cucumber sour, which got 2nd in the "Sour and Funky" category and a NEIPA that got an honorable mention in the "New England IPA" category.
Favourite beer of all time:
I don't know if I have a favourite but I'm a big fan of the Duchess of Bourgogne or any ambitious sours like the Funk Dungeons from Abbeydale
What breweries do you feel have pushed the envelope?
Gipsy Hill, Wicked Weed, Brick Brewery
What piece of advice would you give someone interested in starting homebrewing:
Do it! Brew a style you like and then brew a style you don't. I've learned a lot from brewing styles that I wouldn't normally drink. In some cases I've learned to appreciate something about that style which has actually made me like the style. Just make sure you have a friend(s) that does like the style just in case you end up with 20L of beer you don't want to drink.
Best thing about homebrewing:
It makes you feel like a mad scientist sometimes. There's always something left to try and learn about and there's always some expensive equipment out there waiting to help you.