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Brew & A: Ed "Shecky" Daigneault

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"Shecky, Shecky, Shecky". If you haven't stood in front of your brew room mirror, in the dark, chanting the name of one or more of our moderating team are you really a brewer?
Each member of the team brings a unique aspect of themselves to the administration of HomeBrewTalk and Ed "Shecky" Daigneault is no exception. So much more than a brewer, I got to discuss life, beer, sports (He's a sports writer) and much more with Ed. A member of our moderation team, you'll see Ed most in the General Discussion and Private Chat where he keeps the heathens (you know who you are) in the Tap Room at bay. Joining HomeBrewTalk in May of 08', Ed has come a long way from his foamy head woes and now influences brewers the world over with his scorching sense of humor, and out right sensible approach to brewing. Ed "Shecky" Daigneault joins the list of illustrious brewers to be featured in Brew & A.
Austin: How did you start brewing?
Ed: I mentioned in passing to my wife that it would be interesting to brew your own beer. At the time, I had absolutely zero clue how it was done. Fast forward six or so months to Christmas, and she got me the standard starter brewing kit: extract kit, 5-gallon pot, etc. I had to do it.

Austin: What was your first recipe? How did it turn out?
Ed: First one I wrote on my own was a vanilla stout. Pretty standard stuff, but it was well enough received that I have brewed it every year for 6 years.
Austin: Do you do it seasonally or just when you run out? I know other brewers have Christmas beers and things like that. Is your Vanilla Stout one of those?
Ed: I brew the vanilla stout in the fall for the winter, so yes. I don't have any set date when I want it done, however. Could be November, could be February.
Austin: What's your favorite beer?
Ed: Style? IPA. Beer? If I could have just one beer for the rest of my life, it would probably be Maine Beer Company's Lunch. So good.
Austin: What do you like about it, and have you tried to clone it?
Ed: It's just fantastic. Great aroma, pine, citrus. Just the right amount of sweetness. Kinda fruity. Some complain that the hop bitterness is not quite what is suggested in the aroma, but I like that. It doesn't smack you in the face. IMO, it's perfect. I have not tried to clone it.
Austin: How do you decide which beers to clone?
Ed: Generally if there's a beer I find interesting. For instance, I'm going to soon try to replicate DuClaw's Sweet Baby Jesus. Otherwise, I don't try to clone much. There are so many versions of IPAs out there that if you just write your own recipe you'll come reasonably close to something that's already out there.
Austin: What's one piece if your brew setup you can't live without?
Ed: Like most, the autosiphon.
Austin: Which auto-siphon do you recommend? Have you used any you gad issues with?
Ed: I've only used a standard 1/2" auto-siphon. Never had an issue with it. In fact, I'm still using the first one I bought seven years ago.
Austin: What's the worst product you've ever used?
Ed: Iodine. Nasty, nasty stuff. I discovered StarSan, or rather read about it on HBT, shortly after I started brewing. Thank God for that.
Austin: I can't even imagine, but would like to try. How much more complicated is using iodine over Starsan or any of the other no wash sanitizers?
Ed: It's not. It just seems like an unnecessary chemical to use. Came with the starter kit. I'm not performing an appendectomy.
Austin: But if you were you would still use Starsan right?
Ed: Starsan to me is like Windex to the father in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." It is the cure for everything.

Austin: Why do you homebrew?
Ed: Because I am not at all mechanically inclined. I don't particularly enjoy cooking, so brewing seemed to be something in the middle that I could do. I had no other hobbies beyond physical fitness and sports stuff and I wanted to broaden the horizons a bit. I knew there was much better beer out there than BMC offerings and wanted to know how difficult it would be to prove that in my garage.
Austin: What sports do you participate in? Any other hobbies or interest?
Ed: I play a lot of basketball, run, and lift. Played baseball through Little League, American Legion, college and adult leagues up until 10 years ago. Outside of that, I read a lot and am the ultimate soccer dad for my kids.
Austin: What's your homebrewing style - extract, partial mash, all-grain, biab, or ?
Ed: All grain. Did two extract batches and that was that. I haven't done one since. I don't have anything against extract brewing beyond the fact that I don't enjoy it nearly as much.
Austin: Why don't you enjoy it as much? Is there something about all grain that makes it more exciting?
Ed: I just prefer to be involved in every step of the process. That and I hate all that sticky extract. Blech.
Austin: Tell us about one of your most memorable homebrewing experiences
Ed: I did a Pliny the Elder clone years ago that turned out great. Around the time I tapped it, I sold some extra gear. Guy came to my house to get it and I offered him a glass of the clone. We stayed in my basement for 3 hours having some of that beer. Haven't spoken to the guy since, but it was at least a small measure of validation.
Austin: Good beer will do that. Bad beer will too, but for completely different reasons. Do you find yourself making friends, even temporary ones, just because you're a brewer? Do you ever share your beer with your community? Friends, Neighbors, and what's there response?
Ed: Can't say I've made friends because of brewing. I constantly share beer with whomever wants to try it. I, and another brewer in the neighborhood, have become the suppliers for our small group of friends. I've never had complaints, fortunately. Let's just say my fire pit and kegerator are wildly popular in the neighborhood.
Austin: Describe the perfect beer - style, aroma, flavor, etc.
Ed: A piney or citrusy IPA that has a hint of sweetness and a nice bite at the back end. Yes, please.
Austin: Any commercial examples that strike you as close, or recipes you've brewed that you're working on to achieve that profile?
Ed: Go-to for the piney profile is NEBCO's Sea Hag. Great every day IPA. For the grapefruit, citrus profile it's Sculpin. Unfortunately, that is difficult to get in CT. As for trying to brew such things, I don't necessarily set out to do that. I just build recipes that I think would be to my liking. I'm not one to tinker with recipes too much unless it's a true stinker.
Austin: What's your dream brew rig, and how would you assemble it?
Ed: I wouldn't. I'm not smart enough for that. Or I'm too lazy/scared of the process to put in the effort. Or I'm too old to put forth that effort. Whatever. Dream rig would be a fully automated one -- pumps, plate chiller, all the goodies -- that I either purchased with play money (which I don't have), someone gave to me out of the goodness of their heart or decided I was charity case enough for them to build it for me.
Truthfully, I really, really enjoy brewing on my ghetto rig. I'm fine with that.
Austin: What is the one piece of advice you wish someone would've giving you when you first started?
Ed: Relax. I was so uptight about the whole thing when I first began, especially with all grain, that I nearly gave myself a coronary. It didn't take too long for me to figure out that it's just beer.

Austin: That's great advice, but it's of course easier said than done. How do you relax when you're worrying about temps, times, airlocks, and all the other issues that seem to strike beginners?
Ed: Put on some music, mess around on HBT or just shoot some hoops during the mash and boil. Remembering all that at first seems daunting but after a few times it becomes more reflex than anything.
Austin: Why did you decide to become a moderator on HomeBrewTalk?
Ed: I didn't decide. I was asked to moderate the off-topic forums because that's where I spend all my time. I read the technical forums, of course, but there are far more knowledgeable people out there to answer questions. HBT was great for my brewing so when Tx asked, I figured it was only right to help him out.
There wasn't too much of a process. I believe Tx was looking for some help and let the other mods know. He wanted someone specifically to patrol the off-topic forums. I believe Yooper suggested me because I don't really venture into gen pop. At the time, I was spending more time on HBT than I do now so it just seemed like the right thing to do.
Austin: Where do you see your brewing in 10 years. Will you still do it? Is it like brushing your teeth, or like waxing the car?
Ed: Good question. I hope to be a better brewer by then, hopefully with a more automated set-up and less fear of the technical stuff. I'm certain I will still be brewing. I don't wax my cars, so that is moot. It's not exactly like brushing my teeth, but definitely like flossing. Sorta have to remember how it fits into your life. Sometimes you don't want to brew (or floss), but once you do it you remember why.
***
Thanks Ed for sitting down with me! Follow Ed here on Twitter for more from this HomeBrewTalk giant!

 
"Sometimes you don't want to brew (or floss), but once you do it you remember why."
Because carnitas make good leftovers?
 
To me, brewing is a lot like barbecue. There's so many ways to get something good, you keep trying new things while going back to the old, good ones as well.
 
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