Vail Daily Brew Genius: Jeremy West says brewing beer can be relaxing
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? Jeremy West: I started with a basic extract kit I brewed on my stove top. I loved both the art and technical sides of brewing, and quickly progressed to extract with specialty grain and partial mash batches. I soon began experimenting with my own recipe formulations, and built my own all-grain equipment to further my endeavors. … I’ve made nearly all my own equipment, with an emphasis on simplicity, functionality and affordability. I now brew mainly 10-gallon batches, and am always very experimental with my approach and recipe formulations.2. VD: Where do you brew? How many beers do you have cellaring at any given time? JW: I brew mainly in my garage where I have everything from my malt mill to filtered water readily available. A great facet of my system, however, is its portability. I regularly pack up my system and head to a friend’s house for a joint brew session, or to a club meeting. I keg most of my beer, and usually have five beers on tap, along with the ever-present root beer for my daughter and her friends. I do still bottle some more special batches that I plan on sharing and have longer cellaring times. I currently have about 2-and-a-half cases of various bottles of beer and braggot cellaring for long term storage.3. VD: What is your favorite beer-related destination? JW: I’d have to go with the original Dogfish Head brewpub, though if I ever get the chance to go to Belgium I certainly will.4. VD: What are you entering in the Big Beers Homebrew Competition this January?JW: I’m entering a braggot that tends more toward the mead side than beer, and was colored with some sour bush cherries.5. VD: What’s the most interesting ingredient you’ve ever used in a beer? JW: I’m a very experimental brewer, and have used everything from fruits, spices, and oak to fresh wild hops and molasses. The most interesting was probably a dunkel-wit that looked like a porter, but tasted light and spicy as a traditional wit. I spiced it with coriander, orange and grapefruit zest, cumin, and black pepper that I steeped in dark rum during fermentation before adding the strained mixture at kegging time. It turned out great, and I plan on making this beer again for spring time.6. VD: Where do you get your inspiration for recipes? From commercially produced beers? Elsewhere? JW: I tend to buy commercial beers on occasion just to give myself a push into a different style or profile that I’m thinking about. I get a lot of inspiration from other home brewers though.7. VD: What advice do you have for someone thinking about getting into homebrewing? JW: Definitely, jump right in. The brewing community is a great group of people, always willing to offer help and advise. Brewing is a great hobby that can be as simple or complex as you would like to make it.8. VD: Are homebrewing, homebrew clubs and other homebrewing related activities a social opportunity for you? JW: Of course they’re a social opportunity, but as the president of the club they would be. Beer is a social medium and is best shared with friends and good conversation. Our club is a very laid back group of people whose main goal is the fun of sharing the hobby with everyone. It might sound weird, but I consider the act of brewing relaxing, and so I do also enjoy a nice quiet brew day as well. 9. VD: Are organic/locally produced ingredients of specific interest to you? JW: I do seek out both organic and local ingredients. I have been brewing almost exclusively with organically grown local hops for over a year now. I’ve also had the opportunity recently to use Colorado sourced malt and will definitely explore that more in the future.10.VD: How do you research solutions to brewing challenges? JW: I tend to mostly use online forums as a resource first. I do often talk to fellow professional and home brewer friends when I know they’ve had experiences in the area though.
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