I recently asked Airborneguy, a staple of HomeBrewTalk and one of our major contributing members, to let me interview him in our newest article series, Brew and A.
Here's a Basic Primer in All things Airborneguy. I have tried the Beer Float, I do love it.
Real Name: Sonny F
Based out of: Staten Island
Beer Float: https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f56/beer-float-236545/
Recipe of Note, Atonement Brown Porter (2011 HBT Gold Category 12): https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f126/atonement-brown-porter-2011-hbt-gold-category-12-a-238714/
TxBrew: How did you start brewing?
Sonny F: I was in the Army and stationed in Colorado in the late 90's. Craft beer was in full swing there, but had not yet hit back home in NYC. Before getting out of the Army, I purchased a few books about homebrewing and got started back home a few years later in late 2004.
TxBrew: What was the homebrew scene like when you got home? What was the reaction of your friends and family to your brewing?
Sonny F: I came to find out that there was a small group of older homebrewers on Staten Island, guys who had been brewing since before or just after legalization (the year I was born!) A few of them stopped by our club meetings much later on. When I first started though, homebrewing wasn't very popular so finding others was nearly impossible. I ordered all of my ingredients online from a website in Minnesota that I can't even remember the name of and brewed with my friend who is now an award winning, televised chef.
TxBrew: What's your favorite beer?
Sonny F: The spruce tip beer made by my friend Mark Zap of "Brewing as Art" is definitely one of the best beers I've ever had. New Belgium's Fat Tire will always hold a special place for me because it got me started enjoying craft beer. Overall though, I'd have to say Unibroue's La Fin du Monde is my favorite beer. It just goes so well with many different meals and seasons.
TxBrew: What's one piece of your brew setup you can't live without?
Sonny F: My thermometer. Temperature control is so important to the brewing process. As a new brewer, it may not seem to be a big deal to be 5 or even 10 fahrenheit off your intended mark, but in my opinion solid temperature control is one of the most important steps in the process.
TxBrew: Which brand do you use?
Sonny F.:I'll have to check on that... lol
TxBrew: What's the worst product you've ever used?
Sonny F:I truly can't recall ever using a really bad brewing product. Extensive research online, especially on this forum with so many knowledgeable members, is a great way to avoid errant purchases of unnecessary or ineffective equipment. Now I've used some bad ingredients when trying to "push the envelope", but that's a different story!
TxBrew: What were the bad ingredients?
Sonny F: Worst ingredient I've ever used: wormwood, hands down! Don't consider it, don't experiment with it, don't even look at it!
TxBrew: Why do you homebrew?
Sonny F: I enjoy the experimentation and "DIY" aspect of homebrewing. For me, this hobby doesn't revolve around beer alone. Being able to "DIY" and improvise on equipment also is another enjoyable aspect which keeps me interested. Due to my experience with homebrewing, I've come to take on other DIY projects. I now garden and hand load my own bullets.
TxBrew: What's your homebrewing style - extract, partial mash, all-grain, biab, or ?
Sonny F: All-grain. I brewed with extract only for about 3 years before trying out a few partial-mash batches, but then made the jump to all-grain soon after.
TxBrew: Tell us about one of your most memorable homebrewing experiences
Sonny F: My most memorable homebrewing experience by far was winning the Porter category in the 2011 HBT competition. I haven't entered many competitions during my time homebrewing, so winning with my favorite self-developed recipe was a huge accomplishment.
TxBrew: That is exciting. What led to the development of that award winning recipe?
Sonny F: Atonement Brown Porter went through about 4 different iterations before I settled on my final recipe. I based the original recipe off of one from Terry Foster's "Porter" from the Classic Beer Style series. If I remember correctly, I lowered the percentage of brown malt and messed with the hop schedule a little bit to come up with my final recipe. I've made batches with various adjuncts also, jalepenos being the most surprisingly awesome one yet!
TxBrew: Describe the perfect beer - style, aroma, flavor, etc.
Sonny F: I enjoy so many different styles of beer that it is nearly impossible to answer this question. The old adage holds true for me: The best beer is the one currently in my hand! I'm mostly a traditional guy so I tend to enjoy any beer that solidly represents its intended style. That doesn't mean that I can't enjoy more funky brews, but I tend to do that less often.
TxBrew: What's your dream brew rig, and how would you assemble it?
Sonny F: I'd love to have a barn or large detached garage where I could build a fully controlled electric system with a walk in freezer for lagering.
TxBrew: What is the one piece of advice you wish someone would've giving you when you first started?
Sonny F: Join a forum right away! I'll never stop reading books - real books - but with the speed that information travels nowadays, forums full of experienced and even beginners of any hobby are solid sources of information. Rather than a single author, members reap the benefits of the trial and error experimentation of thousands of fellow aficionados. This modern resource truly can't be beat!
Cheers and happy brewing!