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Brew Genius: Beer is the best social lubricant available today

Daily staff reportnewsroom@vaildaily.comVail CO, Colorado
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Editors note: Brew Genius, a new weekly feature, profiles some of the homebrewers competing at this year Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywine Festival, which takes place Jan. 8-10 at the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort & Spa. For more information on the event, visit http://www.bigbeersfestival.com or call High Point Brewing at 970-524-1092. ======Brewer detailsName: Steve HeadstreamHometown: DenverCareer: Retail store manager for The Brew Hut, a homebrew supply storeNo. of years homebrewing: Since October 1993.Homebrew club: Foam on the Range=======Vail Daily: Evolution of a brewer: From a style and/or technique standpoint, where did you start? Where are you now?Steve Headstream: I started where most people start, with that first basic brewing kit and a copy of Charlie Papazians Joy of Homebrewing. I devoured the book and haunted the homebrew stores until I had a good supply of gadgets. My early beers were extract-only beers, and turned out well enough that I pursued it, although I could follow the same recipe and have a different beer every time. Now I still make extract beers for their simplicity and ease, while making all-grain beers for more exacting styles.VD: Do you brew alone or with others? Why? SH: I prefer to brew together; any more its the social aspects I enjoy the most. A couple of friends, beer and steaks and beer and brewing and a long afternoon thats the ticket!VD: Where do you brew? How many beers do you have cellaring at any given time? SH: My equipment is portable enough that I usually travel to my friends to brew. Cellaring beers? I found a bottle of my Cherry Fever Stout from Oct, 1993, so thats the oldest one I have. Unfortunately I drank the second to last bottle a couple of years back and now only have the one. The last time I cleaned out my beer closet, I discovered I only had 10 cases of beer I started to twitch and had to schedule some brew days to stock back up!VD: Do you brew enough to drink your own beer all year long? SH: Now that I work at the homebrew store/Dry Dock microbrewery, I have a fringe benefit program so I dont brew as much as I drink. I still brew a couple of favorite recipes: a Hefeweizen and a Belgian pale are annuals.VD: What is your favorite commercially produced beer? SH: My favorite commercial beer is St. Bernardus Abt 12, a Belgian dark specialty beer. Its a good one to stay at home and share with friends.VD: Whats your ultimate beer and food pairing?SH: The ultimate beer and food pairing occurred at the very first Brewers dinner in Vail some years back: Averys The Beast and Dogfish Heads World Wide Stout paired with a flourless chocolate lava bomb with the density of plutonium. Sip and nibble and have the flavors fight it out in your mouth – there were no losers that night!VD: What are you entering in the Big Beers Homebrew Competition this January?SH: Unfortunately I dont have any big beers ready this year. I had an amazingly wonderful Belgian pale ale, but I drank it all.VD: Why is beer wonderful? SH: Beer is wonderful because it goes well with any food, has lots of carbohydrates for energy, and is the best social lubricant available today.VD: If you couldnt drink beer, what would you drink? SH: When I go to a restaurant and the choices are Coors Light and Bud, I enjoy iced tea.VD: Has the hops shortage affected you?SH: The hop shortage has been played up in the media more than I think affected homebrewers. I ran out of only a couple of varieties at the homebrew store this summer, but really thats no different than any other year. As a seasonal crop, a few hops run out just before the harvest brings fresh hops back. And truly, the shortage has perhaps driven a few people to experiment with hops that they might not have encountered in the normal brew day. The Sorachi Ace Hefeweizen was a fabulous find from that experimentation!VD: What beer did you try recently that you really loved?SH: Over Christmas, in Chicago, I found St. Benedicts Winter Ale from Stevens Point Brewery in Stevens Point, Wisc. Holiday seasonals have been a favorite style of mine for years, and I seek them out whenever I travel. This one is a deep malty, caramel Belgian style suitable for fighting off the cold Chicago winters. And balmy Denver winters, too!


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