Homebrewer Jim Denier: Beer is a natural for me
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. 10-12 at the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort & Spa. For more information on the event, visit http://www.bigbeersfestival.com or call High Point Brewing at 524-1092. VD: Evolution of a brewer: From a style and/or technique standpoint, where did you start? Where are you now?JD: I started brewing using simple malt extract recipes and brewing 5 gallon batches in a pot on the kitchen stove. I then progressed to doing partial mashing using some specialty grains, and onward to doing all-grain brews. And I must confess that time spent on preparing for and conducting a brew day has increased along with these progressions. My homebrewing equipment arsenal has grown along the way and loved ones have had no problem deciding on birthday and Christmas gifts for me. I currently employ a two-tier converted 15-gallon stainless steel keg system with pumps, propane burners and electronics, which allows me to brew up to 12-gallon batches. Perhaps the result of a midlife crisis, or perhaps the result of a sane and adventurous mind, I recently (July 2007) made the transition to brewing professionally for Dry Dock Brewing Co., a small upstart microbrewery located in Aurora, CO. Big dreams require big toys! I now get to work with friends and see the fruits of my labor appreciated on a larger scale.VD: Do you brew alone or with others? Why? JD: I have always preferred to brew alone so I can focus without distraction on all aspects of the homebrewing process and do a little daydreaming along the way. Perhaps its a result of getting shooed out of the kitchen as a youngster!VD: Where do you brew? How many beers do you have cellaring at any given time?JD: I brew in my garage. I generally have up to six 5-gallon corny kegs on tap in a converted refrigerator at any given time. Beyond kegs, I also bottle up to half of a typical 10-gallon batch and, over time, my cooler basement crawl space has evolved into a beer museum of hundreds of bottles of homebrewed and acquired commercial beers from around the world. VD: Do you brew enough to drink your own beer all year long?JD: Absolutely, and then some. Praise be for friends and family to help with the consumption.VD: What is your favorite commercially produced beer?JD: My favorite beers tend to be Belgian styles, ranging from strong ales to sours and everything in between, with no particular favorite brand. Too many great creations to be stuck on one beer!VD: What is your ultimate beer/food pairing?JD: Im a sucker for rich dark chocolate desserts, so a fine Russian Imperial Stout makes for a perfect marriage. VD: What are you entering in the Big Beers Homebrew Competition this January?JD: I hope to enter my homebrews in several Belgian styles/categories.VD: Why is beer wonderful?JD: Beer is a natural for me and for the rest of human civilization. Creating it brings together art, cooking and science (all loves of mine), and drinking it brings together family and friends. VD: If you couldnt drink beer, what would you drink?JD: After a brief time of mourning, I suppose Id find myself sipping on a glass of dry red wine, and as for that dark chocolate dessert, theres always a splash of fine port!For more information, go to http://www.bigbeersfestival.com.