Vail Brew Genius: Talking beer with a homebrewer
Editor’s note: Brew Genius, an annual feature we run every winter, profiles some of the homebrewers competing at this years Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywine Festival. The 11th annual festival takes place Jan. 6-8 at the Vail Cascade Resort & Spa. For more information on the event, visit http://www.bigbeersfestival.com or call High Point Brewing at 970-524-1092. 1. Vail Daily: Evolution of a brewer: From a style and/or technique standpoint, where did you start? Where are you now? Bob Kauffman: My wife and started with the idea of making our own everyday, pint-after-work type of beer. Now I usually try to brew something you can’t usually buy. For example, a historical style such as an American Stock Ale. Also, pretty much anything in the Belgian style, especially Saison. 2. VD: Where do you brew? How many beers do you have cellaring at any given time? BK: Outside on the back patio. These days, not usually more than one at a time. 3. VD: What is your favorite beer-related destination? BK: The National Homebrewers Conference every June is my favorite beer event. I’d put the range of styles and quality of beer available up against any beer event anywhere, plus it’s a great group of people. It’s held in a different city every year so we’ve traveled to places we wouldn’t have been to otherwise. 4.VD: What’s your ultimate beer-food pairing? BK: That’s a tough one, but Imperial Stout/ice cream floats are the bomb!5. VD: What are you entering in the Big Beers Homebrew Competition this January? BK: A Saison, of course.6.VD: Where do you get your inspiration for recipes? BK: From just about anything; other homebrewers, an interesting spice or fresh fruit, or just trying a new beer. Or in the case of a couple of years ago, harvesting almost 140 pounds of peaches (off of one tree)! 7. VD: What advice do you have for someone thinking about getting into homebrewing? BK: Be clean, be creative, but most of all, have fun. 8. VD: Are homebrewing, homebrew clubs, and other homebrewing related activities a social opportunity for you? or do you prefer to only brew? BK: Joining Hop Barley & The Alers was one of the best things we ever did for our lives in general, and specifically to brewing was absolutely the best one single event that we did for the quality of our brews since we started brewing. I am a member of the American Homebrewers Association Governing Committee (an elected position in annual members-only voting), so I’m maybe a bit biased on this subject, but I think you’re going to find it a very rare thing that any of the more accomplished brewers are not members of a club. And most of those will be AHA members as well, I’m guessing.9. VD: Are you a fan of sour beers? Is this a direction that you have taken or are interested in taking with your homebrewing? BK: I started brewing sour beers a long, long time ago (17 years ago). In fact, I just came across one from June of 1994 (bottled in Sept. of ’94). It is a cranberry lambic, and it was fantastic. I could not believe how good it still was, and our friend Mark Scheitlin couldn’t believe he was drinking a 16-year-old beer. 10. VD: How do you research solutions to brewing challenges? Do you ask friends, homebrew shop employees, look to the internet, etc?BK: All of the above, but mostly I ask other brewers. It’s never a waste of time talking beer with another brewer. But most of all, it’s best to share your beer with others. That’s what it’s all about to me.
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