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Brew & A: Brian "Remmy" B.

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For today's Brew & A we're starting with an excursion. Don't worry, you're not actually going anywhere, this is a trip in our minds (I know you were probably concerned.). Breathe deep reflecting on your years of brewing. Breathe in.... breathe out. Go back. Further... No Further... All the way back to the beginning. All is well, all is peaceful, brewing takes two hours and you didn't spend countless dollars on your rig.
That tingling you're feeling is a mix of "But I love my rig!" followed with "Yeah, it was nice to brew in a couple of hours." To the inevitable groan "Yeah, I have spent a lot on brewing.".
Are you ready to quit? Of course not! Brewing is awesome. Aside from providing an escape from bland beer, and the cultural vacuum it caters too (it sucks. There.), brewing allows us a chance to connect.
Communities like HomeBrewTalk are a means of doing this, but when we reach out to our fellow brewers on a local level we have a new chance at connecting, forming bonds, and improving our beers. So what if it takes six hours just to brew? When you have a buddy that knows as much if not more than you do, you have the ability to relax, not worry about it, and have a homebrew (to paraphrase our beloved Charlie P.).
Brian "Remmy" B. is a brewer taking it easy and reaching out into the real world to improve his brewing. Utilizing the best our site has to offer and giving in return, we sit down with Brian to learn more about his brewing, his connections, and what the future of brewing possibly holds for him.

Austin: How did you start brewing?
Brian: As many before me have done, I began to brew with Mr. Beer kits. I made two beers a Black IPA and an American Pale Ale. I knew right then and there that brewing would turn into another expensive hobby.
Right around the time I brewed with Mr. Beer, I was in the process of selling my old home and buying a bigger home, which meant I would have much more room to store brewing equipment as well my brew day setup.
I purchased the basic equipment needed to brew with steeping grains and dry malt extract. As a result, an abundance of beers were born: Session IPAs (I like my session IPAs in the 8-9% ABV range), Sours, Brett beers as well as oak-aged beers, thanks to my 20-liter oak barrel.
Austin: How do you decide which beer to brew? Do you have a beer bucket list or is there another method?
Brian: I decide what beer to brew depending on how low I am on a particular style that I like. For example, I like to keep at least two IPAs on-tap at all times, which means I usually have at least one more IPA fermenting and ready-to-go once a keg kicks. As for other styles, I do a lot of research on styles I have yet to brew or styles I don't brew as often before constructing my own recipe.
Austin: What's your favorite beer?
Brian: This is a tough question. There are a few that I absolutely love (in no particular order): OEC Brewing's Novale (CT), Fiddlehead's Second Fiddle (VT), New England Brewing Company's Gandhi Bot (CT).
Austin: What's one piece if your brew setup you can't live without?

Brian: Does my kegerator count? No, really. It's got to be my propane burner. It's a vital piece of equipment that I can't live without.
Austin: What's the worst product you've ever used?
Brian: A hydrometer. I can't recall exactly how many have broken on me. I may invest in a refractometer very soon.
Austin: How many have you broken (exactly) and how are you breaking them?
Brian: I've broken four Hydrometers in the last two years. They tend to break on or near my kitchen counter-top, usually by rolling and hitting another object or falling into the sink. I suppose it's due to carelessness on my part. It's just the fact that a Hydrometer is such a fragile piece of equipment that makes it frustrating. After I broke the first one, I have always kept a spare on-hand.
Austin: Why do you homebrew?
Brian: I have always enjoyed engineering and crafting various things. Brewing beer is fun and being able to consume that beer is very satisfying. I frequently share my home brew with fellow HBT members, friends, family and local brew masters (OEC, NEBCO, Black Hog, etc.) for feedback. It's a great feeling when one compliments your beer or gives some constructive feedback. There's always room for improvements and I totally accept that. I really love the feedback from people.
Austin: Do you get beer in return?
Brian: The times I have shared with HBT members, yes, I have received home brew in return. It's fantastic to taste others' home brews. As for my neighbors, family and friends - no, I don't receive beer from them in exchange. I am fine with that. It's satisfying to know they enjoy drinking the beer I make.

Austin: What's your homebrewing style - extract, partial mash, all-grain, biab, or ?
Brian: It's been all-grain for over a year now; partial mash prior to that.
Austin: Tell us about one of your most memorable homebrewing experiences
Brian: Aside from brewing my first all-grain, I'd have to say my most memorable homebrewing experience was when fellow HBT member, nukebrewer, brewed with me. We've brewed several times, however, the last time was great because I had just finished my 5-tap kegerator and we weren't going to run out of beer anytime soon. I think he and I had close to fifteen pints each that day. Drinking and brewing at the same time is awesome.
Austin: Have you brewed with any other HBTers? Have you met anyone else from the site?
Brian: Yes, I have brewed with Dave37 , nukebrewer and mcbaumannerb several times and those would be the only three members I have met. The first time Dave37 and I brewed together, I brewed an English Nut Brown Ale and he brewed a Robust Porter. When fermentation was complete, we blended the beers and proceeded to bottle them. It was great. As for nukebrewer, we have brewed several beers and have exchanged several home brews as well. Brews days with those two guys are awesome and usually consist of drinking great home brews as well as rare craft beer.
Austin: Describe the perfect beer - style, aroma, flavor, etc.

Brian: It's difficult for me to highlight a certain beer. A beer that has that perfect balance of malt and hop character and fermented with a yeast strain that wouldn't alter those flavors would be what I would define as close to the "perfect beer." I do however love sours and Belgian beers, which are great due to the fine work both yeast and bacteria do to impart awesome flavors. So, essentially, there are beers I prefer that contrast in styles that I would call "the perfect beer."
It really depends on the mood I am in at the time I am drinking. For example, I detest Narragansett Lager, except when I'm IN Narragansett drinking one on the beach. It suddenly becomes a 5-star beer and the "perfect beer" for me.
Austin: What's your dream brew rig, and how would you assemble it?
Brian: I'd love to be able to weld a three-tier brew stand and have that sit in my garage. My buddy's cousin built his own and I had the opportunity to see it at his home in Denver. That inspired me to want to build one someday. It would eliminate a lot of work for me on brew day. But, I am not sure it's worth the investment at this time.
Austin: Are there any projects on site you want to model yours after?
Brian: Yes. The only one I can think of is the DIY stir plate build, which I have the parts for but have yet to build.
Austin: What is the one piece of advice you wish someone would've giving you when you first started?
Brian: "Don't drink on brew day."... just kidding. I can't start the brewing process without a beer in-hand.
Quite frankly, I wish someone had told me I could make the same, really good home brews without having to go all-grain. Partial mash and extract brew days were so much easier and I was done with the brewing process in half the time it takes me to brew an all-grain batch. I decided to go all-grain so I could better-customize my own recipes and really build a beer exactly the way I wanted to. Consequently, that came with having to purchase a lot more equipment. Besides those significant differences, I love brewing all-grain because even though the brew process takes longer, every minute is a fun one.
Austin: Have you considered going back to PM and extract brews? Do you find the customization AG offers worth the time it took?

Brian: I've considered it as an alternative to all-grain brewing. However, it's definitely a brewing method I'd be content with using if I am short on time. All-grain brew days typically mean I am cleaning, mashing, boiling and cleaning again for six hours or so. PM and extract brew days take me two to three hours, tops. What I can say about a six-hour brew day is really fun, especially if some friends are present. A longer brew day just means more fun.
There's no doubt that I find the customization all-grain brewing offers as a positive, from the perspective of being able to perfectly fine-tune a grain bill. However, I am not sure that it directly equates to all-grain brew days being worth the time. As I mentioned before, one of the reasons I sometimes dig a longer brew day is so that I have more time to consume fantastic beers and spend that time with friends.
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If you're looking for brewers in your area to help improve your brewing, talk beer, or just hang out check out our regional section. There you can find others looking to reach out into the brewing world, who just like you are looking for the next great beer.
Please join me in raising a glass to Brian "Remmy" B. the latest brewer to join us for Brew & A.
Salud!

 
Cool to see Remmy profiled. 2 things:
1-DIY stir plate... screw that. What a PITA. I ended up ordering an EZStirplate. It cost more, but it is SOOOOO much better than my crappy DIY.
2-AG vs Extract. I've found it depends on what you are making. I've taken to doing a double batch brew days. While my AG is mashing, I like to make a simple Belgian or IPA extract batch. An extract batch can make a damn fine brew once you have your technique down(and fermentation temp control.)
Keep on brewing Remmy, one of these days we'll get the G-bot recipe dialed in. ;)
 
Great Interview Austin!
Remmy, I know exactly what you mean when say the best beer is "situational". I agree completely.
 
Good read. I never thought I would go back to brewing with extract after switching to AG, but the time savings is pretty awesome. I agree that 6+ hours is a long time, but totally worth it when you have some good music and good beers going down! Cheers!
 
Great interview- I love the comment about beer "depending on the mood." Who you're drinking with, if anyone, where, the season, if / what you're eating / smoking (cigars!), all have a major impact on what I want to drink. That's why it is important to have a big pipeline, with good variety. A beer to suit every mood.
 
Yeah, The style of beer can definitely be situational. And after getting your process down, a quicker brew day can be just as good as the long ones.
 
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