In a new blog series, we'll be interviewing some of the brewers from our homebrew club (and in the future from elsewhere) 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. For the first blog in the series, we've interviewed Mike Acord. Mike works with us at shop so you may have met him already!
How did you get into homebrewing? My family brought me one of the Brooklyn Brewing Shop Everyday IPA beer making kits. (Something I think they regretted in the coming months). I followed those instructions and YouTube videos to the letter....and every bottle ended up a gusher! So, I got back on my horse and did it again. This time I got it right, but a month was a long time to wait for 10 bottles of beer, so slowly I built up the set up I have now, where I brew 45ltrs every month.
Current Set up: My current setup is a 30 litre HLT, a 45ltr cool box mash tun, and a 50 litre kettle, that is heated up with Propane. It is all gravity fed, no pumps, just old school brewing. The manifold and fly sparge are home made. At the moment, I bottle all my beer, but have bought a second hand chest freezer which will host 2 corny kegs so I can have beer on tap.
Best piece of homebrewing equipment you own: I think it would have to be my 7.5kw gas burner which moved me from the kitchen to brewing outside, or in the garage. My homemade mash tun manifold too, my efficiency shot up when I started using it. My Fermentation fridge also as it's a pivotal part in my brewing day. By keeping fermenting temps consistent you give the yeast the best environment.
Dream setup: 1000 litre setup, all the paperwork and a little taproom that I could sell my beer from.
What's your 'go to' style?: Difficult question, as I feel every style has characteristics for a time and place. At the moment, I'm enjoying making SMaSH beers (single malt and single hop) but using Voss kviek yeast, a Norwegian yeast strain that ferments at 35°c+ and gives you a beer that's ready from grain to glass in as little as 4 days. It has to be seen to be believed. I love dunkels and malt forward beers too. Dinner in a glass!
What brews have you got planned in the next few months: At the time of this going to press, Kat (another member of waterintobeer's homebrew club) and I will be brewing a Schwarzbier (a German dark lager). I will also be getting my decadent imperial stouts and possibly barley wines brewed for the winter.
Competitions entered/ placings: I recently entered the London Amateur Brewers Open 2019, a competition held at Fourpure brewery of 400 places. I entered 3 beers, a kolsch, an imperial porter (peanut butter and jelly) and a Belgian blonde. I entered to get professional feedback (which I got in abundance) and came away with a 3rd for my Belgian! Bonus!!
Favourite beer of all time: In this day and age of pales, DIPAs and hop forward IPAs, I'm going to buck the trend and go for the Duchesse. (Duchesse de Bourgogne). An absolute killer beer that takes your taste buds on an insane journey. Like Dupont did for Saisons, the Duchesse is the flag bearer for Flemish Reds.
What breweries do you feel have pushed the envelope? In no particular order I would say, Wild Beer Co. as their ingredient list is always left of centre (check out Breakfast of Champignons), Siren Craft Brew, Pressure Drop, Vibrant Forest, and London's favourite, Kernel Brewery. How they can get a sub 3% table beer to taste akin to some 6% pales amazes me.
What piece of advice would you give someone interested in starting homebrewing: Don't go wild! keep it simple, go for a style that you'll enjoy. Keep your first few brews small until you're sure you want to make it your new favourite pastime, it's really easy to end up with loads of kit.
Best thing about homebrewing: I would have to say the best thing is meeting like minded people who all have the same goal. The brewing community is ever helpful and a true fountain of knowledge. Someone will have an answer somewhere.