Friday, July 23, 2010

Homebrewer of the Week

For Homebrewer of the Week today we head over to Ireland and the author of the Tale of the Ale blog, whose wife is a good friend of Mrs Velkyal and hosted us in November 2008 when we visited that most fantastic country.


Name: Reuben Gray

How did you get into home brewing?

I had been thinking about it for a while and Velky Al introduced me to Irishcraftbrewer.com during a visit to Ireland. Amazing that it is an Irish website and I never knew it existed.

Are you an all grain brewer or extract with grains?

All grain

What is the best beer you have ever brewed and why?

There are a number of fantastic beers I have brewed but the one that stands out for me the most, and perhaps it is for sentimental reasons is my first all grain brew called Cloaked Stranger. A very strong, bitter, toasty dry Irish stout. I have never had a commercial stout I like more.

What is the worst, and why?

The worst is not even a bad beer. I would say that Wheaty Goodness is the worst. This is a recent brew which doubled as a demonstration to a fellow homebrewer who wanted to move to All grain from extract. It is a wheat beer but with extra hops, one of which is Rakau from New Zealand. I think what happened is that a wild yeast made it in to the fermenter so it was initially very sour. This has now mellowed out and is a rather refreshing beer now but due to the suspected wild yeast infection (harmless to consume) it gets worst beer vote.

What is your favourite beer that you brew?

Cloaked stranger is my favourite all-time beer although the beer I am drinking right now, Hoppety Hop is a double IPA and in this warm weather is so refreshing that it is my current favourite brew. It is so bitter (106 IBU) and refreshing but the sweetness makes it seem very drinkable.

Do you have any plans or ambitions to turn your hobby into your career?

Yes I would love to open a brewpub at some point.

Of the beers you brew, which is your favourite to drink?

For pure ease of drinking in quantity, perhaps Blonde Beggar which is a simple blonde ale although Seeing Red was a much more complex beer but could pass as a session beer. The cascade finish from a very malty red ale was just superb so I will go with Seeing Red because everyone who likes beer was blown away with it. The style is aiming towards Clotworthy Dobbin but was not a clone of the beer, just the inspiration.

How do you decide on the kind of beer to brew and formulate the recipe?

Random thoughts, there is usually very little planning. One of my latest beers is called Random Summer Sunshine and was born out of what ingredients I had handy that were getting on in age and the need to make another summer Quaffer.

What is the most unusual beer you have brewed?

I brewed a Belgian style Dubbel and I was going for the less sweet style of Northern Belgium (Bruges). I made a very complex beer using all kinds of different grains and I thought it came out fantastic and exactly what I want. One comment I got from a very experience home brewer was “wow that’s weird…” I don’t think he knew what to make of it but I loved it as did my wife and the comments were positive on the whole.

If you could do a pro-am brew, what would you brew and with which brewery?

I would like to work with Bells and do my Seeing Red with them because Bells Oberon was the first craft beer I can remember and is what got me in to Craft beer in the first place. I was very much of the opinion that Americans only brewed beer flavoured water like Bud, Miller etc and was shocked when I came across a taps I did not recognize and found that American bars usually also serve local beers. So everywhere I went I asked for the local beers and the rest is history. Bells will always have a special place in my heart. That and they are from Michigan were my wife is from.

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