Vail Daily homebrewer profile: Dreaming of a Belgium beer tour
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?Tom Schickling: I started homebrewing when I received a basic extract kit as a gift. I worked my way through extract into all grain. I now brew 10 gallon batches, with a four-tap kegerator.2. VD: Where do you brew? How many beers do you have cellaring at any given time?TS: I have a pretty nice set-up in my garage, but I am always looking to improve. I usually keep four to five beers on tap, with one or two batches waiting to go on tap. I also keep a selection of older big beers in bottles.3. VD: What is your favorite beer-related destination?TS: The Big Beers Festival of course! I also always try to hit the local brewpubs when I travel. My dream is to do a beer tasting tour of Belgium.4. VD: What’s your ultimate beer and food pairing?TS: Chocolate porter and vanilla bean ice cream in a shake. 5. What’s the most interesting ingredient you’ve ever used in a beer?TS: I enjoy using real vanilla bean in porters and have made a few pumpkin beers with interesting spices. And I love making belgiums with homegrown coriander and cumin.6. VD: What advice do you have for someone thinking about getting into homebrewing?TS: Just get started. But start easy so as to not frustrate yourself. Also sanitize, sanitize, sanitize! But it’s a really fun hobby. Sometimes I think I enjoy making it more than drinking it.7. VD: Are organic or locally-produced ingredients of specific interest to you?TS: I try to use local ingredients like local hops from Hotchkiss and malt from Colorado malting. I have also started growing and using my own hops which I have a few varieties of (Cascade, Fugels, Centennials, and Nuggets). I am also experimenting with growing some barley. I have still yet to try malting (next step).8. VD: Are you a fan of sour beers? Is this a direction that you have taken or are interested in taking with your homebrewing?TS: I started getting into sour beers a few years ago (at the Big Beers Festival) and would like to try one in our club bourbon barrel.9. VD: How do you research solutions to brewing challenges?TS: That is one of the great resources of being involved in a homebrew club is being able to bounce ideas off of other people because of the vast knowledge and years of experience. I also subscribe to both of the homebrew magazines (“Zymurgy” and “BYO”). And talking to my friends Scott at the Lil Ole Winemaker and Ken at the Glenwood Canyon Brew Pub have been incredible resources.