Brew Genius: Front Range is a ‘great place for a beer journey’
Editor’s note: Brew Genius, a feature we run every winter, profiles some of the homebrewers competing at this year’s Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival. The 12th-annual festival takes place Jan. 5 through 7 at the Vail Cascade Resort & Spa. For more information on the event, visit http://www.bigbeersfestival.com.1. Vail Daily: From a style and/or technique standpoint, where did you start? Where are you now? Scott Jackson: Like most people, I started out with malt extract, a pot on the kitchen stove and a plastic bucket for a fermenter. Now I have a 10-foot-by-20-foot room dedicated for my brewery in the basement with a half-barrel, three-vessel, all-grain system, two conical fermenters and soon I will have a 5-foot-by-10-foot walk-in cold room.2. VD: How many beers do you have cellaring at any given time? SJ: Right now, I have 12 beers either in bottles/kegs, lagering or cellaring for when I get home from Afghanistan.3. VD: What is your favorite beer-related destination? SJ: When Big Beers is happening, it’s Vail. Otherwise, I really enjoyed my trip to Belgium a couple of years ago and would really love to get back. However, the Denver area (really the entire Front Range) has an awesome array of breweries, brew pubs and beer bars. It is a great place for a beer journey.4. VD: What’s your ultimate beer-food pairing? SJ: My pumpkin flan with my Pumpkin Saison. Sometimes like-like works with beer and food pairing. In this case, the richness of the flan is countered with the dryness and effervescence of the pumpkin saison and then the two are tied together at the end by the pumpkin-pie spices in both.5. VD: What are you entering in the Big Beers Homebrew Competition in January (name/style)? SJ: Gungnur Grand Cru/Belgian Barleywine, Golden Gnarley Roots/American Barleywine, Saison d’Hiver/Winter Saison and I nailed McChouffe!/Belgian-Scotch Ale.6. VD: What’s the most interesting ingredient you’ve ever used in a beer? SJ: Sweet woodruff, the herb. It did not turn out very well.7. VD: Where do you get your inspiration for recipes? SJ: Multiple sources. I normally brew based on the season or, rather, for the upcoming season. Sometimes, I will try to clone a commercial beer that I can’t get or that is really expensive to buy.8. VD: What advice do you have for someone thinking about getting into homebrewing? SJ: Read up on it a bit before starting. Get one of the beginner brewing books, and read it thoroughly. It will let you know what you are getting into. Also, attend a homebrewing session at a local club or homebrew shop. That way, you can see the brewing process in action and have a better understanding of what equipment you want before you buy it.9. VD: Is homebrewing a local connection for you with your nearby friends and community? Or do you prefer to brew alone/with your family? SJ: Most of the time, I brew by myself; however, several times a year my homebrew club will have a “brew-in,” where four or five brewers will come together with their systems and all brew beer at the same place and time. Those are really fun and educational events. I also have a “Pumpkin Beer Brewing/Oktoberfest Party” at my house once each fall, where I tap my Oktoberfest beers, serve German food and brew my pumpkin beer for Thanksgiving. Usually 20 to 30 people show up for that.10. VD: What’s the Big Beers Festival experience that has had the most impact on your homebrewing?SJ: Judging beer with Bob Brewer from Anchor Brewing Co. Bob has been around the industry forever, and listening to his insights and opinions was really enlightening.