In real life, I teach construction technology and custom woodworking at a secondary school in Cambridge. I am also a licensed automotive service technician, diy enthusiast, and tinkerer. In the beer world I am a homebrewer, homebrew educator, and BJCP certified beer judge.
What other hobbies or interests do you have?
I spend a lot of my down-time repairing, modifying and camping in my 1982 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia camper van named Dennis with my partner Madelaine and our dog Rufus. I love birdwatching, hiking, back country camping, and woodworking. I also play hockey a few times a week during the winter, and I’m getting back into mountain biking during the summer and fall. I like to photograph landscapes, birds and other wildlife.
What is your favourite type of beer to brew/drink?
I have spent most of the past year or two experimenting with sour styles (especially Go
se) and the various ways of producing them, and I have always enjoyed both brewing and drinking Belgian ales. I like exploring as many beer styles as I can, but if I had to choose a favourite beer to drink it would have to be Geueze.
What type of system do you brew on?
Whichever type of system I can get my hands on – I like brewing with a variety of equipment and methods, but right now I am mostly brewing on a Grainfather/Hot Rod combination and a home-made system consisting of an electric urn mash tun and an Anvil kettle with a ferment in a kettle set-up.
What is your favourite recipe?
My favourite recipe is definitely my Gose, called “Way She Fuckin’ Gose”. It is excellent on its own, and also makes a great base for experimentation with fruit, herbs, barrel aging, whatever.
What is the beer you wish you never brewed?
I haven’t had any total write-offs so far. I do have a New Zealand-hopped IPA from about a year ago that tasted kinda funny because it got a brett infection, but I held on to it because I’m an optimist, and I think it’s about to turn a corner.
What do you wish to improve on in your brewing?
I am working on brewing with mixed cultures. It has a long learning curve due to the time it takes for the bugs to do their work, but once you figure it out you can work magic.
Do you have any brewing tricks, or “hacks”?
Kettle sours can be pretty one dimensional, because the sacc yeast never really contributes any flavour to pre-soured wort. If you are kettle souring a beer and want to get some more yeast character, pull some wort from the kettle before pitching the LAB and ferment it separately with your chosen yeast. Blend it back in before packaging for more depth.
Not sure if that qualifies as a trick or hack though. Maybe more of an advanced technique?
What is your philosophy on brewing and what advice would you give to new brewers?
Don’t over-complicate things, especially when you are starting out. Keep your equipment, recipe and wort production simple and focus on getting a healthy fermentation. Don’t get obsessed with trying to build the perfect recipe. Get a book with some recipes that sound good to you, and practice brewing using those until you can consistently make good beer.
Once you have a good understanding of how to make good beer, start experimenting with new techniques, ingredients, and recipe building
Don’t trust everyone you meet on the internet.
You get to choose which beer your arch enemy drinks for the rest of their life – what is it?
It would have to be that Lime version of Bud Light. That thing is just awful.