Member Profile: Justin Angevaare

As the president and founding member of True Grist, it was natural that we do one of the first member profiles with Justin Angevaare.

About Justin

By day I work towards obtaining my PhD in Statistics… by night… well often the same. Often when I’m in need of a break I find myself researching beer science.

I’ve always had a DIY spirit, and at some point in 2010 that crept over into my appreciation of craft beer. In late 2010, when I felt I had researched enough I built a brewery out of some 58 litre kegs and got to making my own beer. There have been many changes to my brewery, and my beer tastes since, but I’ve kept with it!

Besides for my homebrewing and my academic pursuits I enjoy to spend my time camping, fly fishing, and making sourdough. Boardgames, darts, whisky, and guitar are fun for me too.

Proud moment after completion of another revision of my brewery. Not long after this picture it was redesigned again.

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

I like to brew lagers. There’s something really nice about a beer that seems to improve with a bit of time after packaging – Pilsner, Helles and Schwarzbier are my favourites. I’m only starting to get into this, but I like a lot of mixed fermentations for the same reason – the (hopefully) pleasant development through aging.

What type of system do you brew on?

I have an electric brewery controlled through a Raspberry Pi running a dashboard I made with Node-RED.

My brewery has two vessels (boil kettle and mash tun), one pump, and a lot of tri clamp fittings. I make 44 litre batches employing a recirculating full volume mashing process. The motivation of this system has been to brew and clean quickly (at the cost of some mash efficiency). It works! Some pictures and more detailed description below.

What is your favourite recipe?

Nothing specific, but I like to use 67% pils 33% pale wheat malt bill for a bunch of different styles – hefeweizen, belgian wit, both kettle sours and long term mixed fermentations (it can work for many others too, but these are my favourite). It’s a simple light malt base that I use for wheaty beers where the flavour emphasis is on fermentation or hop character. The high protein grist means it always looks great in the glass too. Here’s one.

What is the beer you wish you never brewed?

Never a bad brew that hasn’t provided an worthwhile lesson… right? My most recent dumped keg I think was sometime last year when I made an altbier using a new recipe tool/calculator that didn’t handle first wort hopping well… The beer was going to be on the hoppy side of the style to begin with, but with the miscalculations I think it ended up being near the saturation point of iso-alpha acids in wort!

What do you wish to improve on in your brewing?

Packaging efficiency. Bottling specifically. Setting up a beer gun I find to be a pain. It ends up being gas line and beer line all over the place. I knock stuff over, make a mess. I need to find a way to enjoy and streamline the process a bit more for the sake of participating in more competitions and more bottle shares.

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

Brewing is effort intensive. So find efficiencies where you can, brew what you want to drink (with fresh, quality ingredients), and never brew on an empty stomach!

Here’s a couple thoughts for those starting out:

  1. If you really want to gain experience quickly, brew small batches frequently. It’s more work per beer, but also more learning.
  2. Take detailed notes – during a brew day, during fermentation, and on the beer itself (and how it develops through time if it makes it that far!)
  3. I highly suggest giving some SMaSH (Single Malt and Single Hop) recipes a go. If you want to work towards making your own recipes, this is the best way to learn your ingredients. Some of the best beers in the world are SMaSHs.
  4. Make a point of brewing some more delicate styles. There’s nothing better for honing your process, as it’s difficult to hide flaws in these beers. Cream ale, Munich Helles, Kölsch, and American Light Lagers are all great for this.
  5. Bring your beer out to homebrew meetings for critical feedback! Yes your “bad” beer too! Learning names for off flavours really enables you to to research and address their sources, but this can be very hard to do in isolation. Sometimes the cues for off flavours in brewing literature don’t quite work for you (and sometimes you’re just not sensitive to them – I know there’s a few I’ll always miss). Competitions are great too for getting detailed feedback to help you improve.

You’re a new addition to the crayon box – what colour would you be?

Coffee ring brown. The occasional mark of an ultra-productive scatterbrain.