Friday, August 6, 2010

Homebrewer of the Week

We are staying rather close to home for Homebrewer of the Week today. Just about an hour away from Charlottesville is Richmond, capital of Virginia and one time home to the government of the Confederate States of America. It is also home to fellow homebrewer, beer blogger, beer enthusiast and all round general top bloke, E.S. Delia, whose blog, Relentless Thirst is always a worthy read.

Name: Eric Delia

How did you get into home brewing?

I got into homebrewing after delving into the craft beer movement in general. One catalyst for this was the blog I started years ago, which began to lead me on a path to discover what beer was truly about. It’s a path I was already sort of on before I even was aware of it. The brewing process had always intrigued me, ever since I visited the Anheuser-Busch plant in Williamsburg, Virginia as a kid. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that you can’t understand beer without being a homebrewer, but I do believe it adds a certain depth to that understanding.

Are you an all grain brewer or extract with grains?

All-grain. Started as an extract brewer doing partial mash.

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

A saison I brewed the first time around turned out to be phenomenal, at least by my meager standards. I think the temperature settings I used in fermentation imparted great flavors, but the yeast didn’t attenuate all the way (something saison yeasts are known for). I then had to use a neutral yeast to finish it out, but it had been a while and I worried that I’d lose the batch. When everything seemed to go wrong, the beer turned out great in the end.

What is the worst, and why?

Hard to pick just one! Ha! But I’d venture to say it was a Dark Mild ale I brewed with maple syrup. The extra sugar ended up making this beer overcarbonated, and while the flavor was where I wanted it, the carbonic acid really killed the round sweetness it was supposed to have.

What is your favourite beer that you brew?

Well, I do all sorts of styles and types, but I’d have to say that the saison I revisited is my favorite, just because it turned out so delicious. This latest batch is coming into its own.

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

It would be an amazing opportunity to turn my homebrewing into a career, but it’s nice to dream, isn’t it?

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

Again, I’d have to go with that saison. However, I brewed a Witbier that was just a rock-solid, standard, easy-drinking beer that seemed to be great to enjoy at any time of the day or year. Relatively low alcohol content and a straight-forward, full wheat flavor made it quite quaffable.

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

Research and experimentation. I’ll normally get an idea for a beer, look around to see what my malt base will look like and what kind of additional flavors I want to infuse into my mash. Then, I’ll construct the rest of the beer on top of that. Sometimes it doesn’t produce the characteristics I’m hoping for, but other times it makes for fantastic surprises.

What is the most unusual beer you have brewed?

I collaborated with a couple friends on a beer called Figgy Stardust. We basically reduced some whole figs, used Laphroaig malt in the grain bill, and added honey. The flavor components were quite subtle, but together it was off-the-wall enough to be named in honor of the Starman himself.

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

Tough question, and for me it would depend on what we’re trying to brew. At the moment, I’d love to peer into the mind of Dany Prignon over at Fantôme and do an off-the-wall saison, but it’d be hard to pass up this kind of offer with any brewery, really.

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