Member Profile: Chris Kwietniowski

About Chris

Chris has been a member of True Grist since the beginning, and has been brewing all grain since 2012. Chris is a father to two young boys, and obviously has an understanding and supportive wife since they named their youngest Porter. He studied Nutritional Sciences at U of G and works in the health product/supplement business.

What other hobbies or interests do you have?

I like to keep pretty busy, I am usually working on some new project. I like to run, I’ve raced up to 50k distance. I like hiking, canoeing, basically just being outdoors. Other interests, in no particular order: gardening, sausage making, woodworking, other DIY/scrounging related stuff, baking, stills, finding time for these things… People say I am good at doing stuff.

What is your favourite type of beer to brew/drink?

Not sure I can pick just one. I guess I would have to say lately my favourites to brew are strong beers, and my favourites to drink are always the less exciting everyday ones: helles, pils, dry stout, bitter… session beers, particularly European style lagers.

What type of system do you brew on?

I generally brew 40 L batches in my carport but also do 20 L stovetop. I brew with gas, direct fire for everything because it is dead simple, and the burners are cheap. I use a 3 level gravity feed system for a traditional continuous sparge. It is a beautiful thing for the sparging to basically just take care of itself once set up. I have two 50 L keggles, one with false bottom for the mash, one for the boil and I also have one old turkey fryer pot for the sparge water. That pot doubles as my 5 gallon stove top boil kettle, and as the picture shows, it can also serve as the mash tun. I use a simple copper immersion chiller, and an ever expanding collection of fridges and freezers that I find on garbage day for fermentation, lagering etc. I also have a 2 tap keg fridge. My brewing system isn’t all that pretty, but it performs well and hasn’t cost me a whole lot.

What is your favourite recipe?

My dry stout. If you ask me in a week that will probably change, but my stout brewing (and consumption) is probably best measured in hectolitres. I am not really “done” with the recipe, but I think I am getting close. I’ve tried many iterations on the malt, different yeasts etc and have at times just left it alone for awhile. My Irish friend puts it right up there with a good pint of Guinness back home.

What is the beer you wish you never brewed?

Not sure I have one. I have made a couple with home smoked malt that were great, and others that tasted like I served them from an ashtray… sometimes you dump a batch. But I still don’t regret those, because I at least learn what NOT to do.

What do you wish to improve on in your brewing?

I need actual beer names! They’re either lame “dad jokes” or just the style of beer and a number/date like RIS 18-02.

I need to learn more about american and NZ hops, I usually go with safe, classic hop choices. I also want to learn more about, and experiment with, traditional mixed fermentation beers.

Do you have any brewing tricks, or “hacks”?

  • Microwave your priming sugar solution, and go ahead and add it to the beer while still hot.
  • You can also use the microwave to steam sanitize a jar or flask very quickly, say after a funky starter.
  • Powdered dishwasher detergent is a great and cheap substitute for PBW- I use it for all my cleaning and haven’t found the scent clings to my gear, not even plastic, vinyl etc.
  • While you are raiding the cleaning supplies, take the bleach too! It is a powerful sanitizer, just rinse it off well and then star san before use. Great for used equipment.

What is your philosophy on brewing and what advice would you give to new brewers?

I try to make the best beer possible with the least effort and cost. I am kind of a cheapskate, and also don’t like unnecessary steps/work. I don’t do it for the shiny toys, I do it for the enjoyment of beer and to share it with friends. I also like to mess around with the process and test different ideas, to entertain my scientific and creative side. Sometimes the ideas work, other times they fail, but you always learn something.

My advice to new brewers would be that complicated does not equal complex. You don’t need 5 malts and 10 hops to make a complex beer. You can make really satisfying beers with just 1 malt and 1 hop, and at the very least you will learn exactly what those ingredients taste like. Also, learn as much as you can about yeast. Managing fermentation is often the forgotten but crucial part of making beer.

If you were a Kitchen Appliance, which would you be and why?

I mentioned I have a thing for free fridges, but I guess I would have to be the waffle maker. It only works like one morning a month, and usually makes people happy. Seems like a cushy job compared to the other appliances.