Brewer Interviews #12 - Mark Woollard

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 12th blog in the series features Mark.

How did you get into homebrewing?

Way back in 2014, I shadowed a brew with my best mate Matt (who is now also a WIB Homebrew Club regular) at his place (he’d been brewing around a year at that point). After this I persuaded two neighbours on my street to get involved & we bought a simple 20L All Grain starter equipment bundle online. We did an extract brew initially to get the feel of the process & then moved onto all grain, taking turns to have the kit (we had quickly purchased one fermenter each).

Over the years one of my neighbours stopped brewing, but the other one and I have continued to share some kit (and share the purchase of some new bits) but we have both evolved our setups with better fermenters & ferm fridges etc.

Current Set up:

Buffalo Induction cooker

55L SS Brewtech Kettle

Stupidly big plastic mash tun 😊

Plate Chiller & pump

Fermentation Fridge with home made project box with STC1000 Temp controller (built before those handy ones from Inkbird became a thing).

30L flat bottomed SS fermenter (would love a conical but this won’t fit in my fridge)

New for 2022 – Kegland Keg Fridge with 3 taps.

Best piece of homebrewing equipment you own:

The keg fridge is definitely the shiniest: It’s great to not need to bottle all the time. In terms of improving my processes - then the Ferm Fridge is best.

Dream setup:

I’d need to move house for this – a nice garage or spare room facing the garden with a permanently set up SS Brewtech trinity of Kettle, Mash Tun & Fermenter.

What's your 'go to' style?:

To be honest I don’t think I have one.

How did the pandemic affect/change your brewing?

Not strictly Covid related, but I lost almost all my sense of smell in October 2019, so my brewing became malt focussed for the duration of the pandemic. Thankfully I’ve got my sense of smell back this year after some surgery.

During the lockdowns I did more experimenting with big batch brewing – getting around 40L of wort out of my kettle & splitting it 3 ways (main fermenter plus 2x 5L demi-johns) with different additions and/or yeast amongst them.

I also had a crack at Partigyle brewing which was interesting – one mash creating an Abbey Beer and a Tripel. 

Which beer that you brewed are you most proud of?

My 2020 Baltic Porter with Costa Rican coffee husks & Rum was lovely.

What brews have you got planned in the next few months:

I’ve been promising to make another Baltic Porter for about 2 years now! Really need to make this happen.

Competitions entered/ placings:

I was (I think) third at BrewCon for a Latte Stout back in 2018. I’ve never got around to entering anything else since.

Favourite beer of all time:

Couldn’t say. I don’t track them. So many lovely beers drank over the years.

What breweries do you feel have pushed the envelope?

Maybe a bit plain for some, but for me Kernel just don’t ever seem to make a bad beer, regardless of the style.

What piece of advice would you give someone interested in starting homebrewing:

Focus on cleaning & temperature control. Start simply with single hop pales so you can taste the differences between the hops.

Best thing about homebrewing:

The endless variety of beers you can make…. and of course our amazing Homebrew Club at WIB!

waterintobeer Homebrew Club takes place on the first Sunday of the month, from 2pm.

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