Brew & A: Gratus Fermentatio

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Brew & A is back by popular demand! We never intended to stop writing it, other things came up. Important things. Beer things. But we're happy to announce the return of our series, and we hope you are too.
Who is Gratus Fermentatio, amiright?
Well to put it plainly, he's complicated, although his brewing seems to stay on the simple side of things. Gratus adds color to a gray world. He's the accent mark that turns the everyday into the exotic, and one of the members keeping us all in stitches in the Off Topic sections.
This month we sit down with Gratus Fermentatio to learn more about his brewing, and to get to know the man behind the moniker.

Austin: How did you start brewing?
GF: It started out with a friendly competition with a fishing buddy; who could make the tastier wine. We bought our bare bones kits and a couple of books and had at it. First thing I made was Ken Schramm's "Fall's Bounty Cyser".
I caught the brewing bug long before that though. Homebrewing was re-legalized when I was a kid and some of my relatives started making wine. I hated the taste of wine then, as many kids do, but I've always enjoyed the taste of beer. I can remember ordering free catalogs from mail-order homebrew shops and thinking about making beer at home when I was old enough.
Austin: How did your first wine turn out?
GF: My first actual wine was my own recipe, cherry/apple/black currant and it turned out great. It was so good, it didn't last long and I wished I had made more. I liked it so much, I adapted the recipe to a melomel.
Austin: What's your favorite beer?
GF: Tough question, I like a lot of different styles. I think I like malt-forward styles the best, like Doppelbocks and Scotch Ales. I like Ettaler's Curator and Ayinger's Celebrator quite a bit, and McEwan's Scotch Ale is my benchmark for that style. My favorite beer of all time is no longer made. It was Patrizier Brau Edel Dunkel; brewed in Furth, just outside Nurnberg in what used to be West Germany. I also enjoy English style (and Americanized versions of) brown ales.
Austin: What's the one piece of equipment you can't live without?
GF: My first response would be "all of it." Can't hit mash temps without a thermometer. Can't mash at all without a reasonably large pot & a suitable heat source. Can't ferment without some sort of container like a bucket or a carboy. I guess I could get by with just a brewpot, thermometer, and a bucket fermentor.
Austin: What's the worst product you've ever used?
GF: Most brewing-related products I've used have been of fairly decent quality. I did have an issue once with American crown caps not quite fitting European beer bottles, but that wasn't the manufacturer's fault; the caps fit American bottles just fine.
Austin: Why do you homebrew?
GF: I enjoy beer/wine/mead/cider quite a bit and being able to make it myself, develop my own recipes, and have them turn out to be as good as (or even better than) commercial brews gives me a really good feeling. So does hearing/seeing somebody enjoying one of my brews. I also enjoy cooking, and I think brewing and cooking sort of go hand in hand.
Austin: What's your homebrewing style - Extract, Partial-Mash, All-Grain, Brew-in-a-Bag, or other?
GF: For beer I usually do Partial-Mashes, but I also do Brew-in-a-Bag too. I still use extract as I've not made the leap to All-Grain just yet.
Austin: Tell us about one of your most memorable homebrewing experiences.
GF: I think that would be when I had twelve gallons of mead that was oxidized and I had to dump it. At that time I lived in an apartment and dumped it down the sewer drain in the parking lot. I discovered too late that it was actually a storm drain. The whole parking lot reeked of booze for close to three days.
Austin: Is that a bad thing? Did the neighbors say anything?
GF: Nobody ever mentioned it to me, but man, that whole parking lot really did just REEK of booze.
Austin: Describe the perfect beer - style, aroma, flavor, etc.
GF: I'd say that would be whatever you like the most at the time. For me it changes. I love drinking doppelbock, but sometimes I feel like having a kolsch or a porter. I guess the one thing I would like in almost all beers would be great taste, the kind of taste that when you take a sip you pause for a couple seconds, look at the beer in a new light, smack your lips and say "Baby, where have you been all my life?" An ABV of about 8% would be nice too.
Austin: What's your dream brew rig, and how would you assemble it?
GF: I'd like to go All-Grain with a three-tier system.

Austin: What is the one piece of advice you wish someone would've given you when you first started?
I wish somebody would've explained just how important fermentation temps really are, I could've avoided a few problems if I had known that before I started.
Austin: Have you lost beer to issues with fermentation temps?
GF: On losing beer to fermentation temps: I've had some off flavors which I attributed to high fermentation temps, but nothing so bad I had to dump it. I've been luckier with beer than mead, but since I have a hard time with temp control, I haven't brewed much during the summer months. Late autumn, winter, and early spring are brewing season for me.
***
I feel I need apologize to you the community for the Brew & A hiatus, and to Gratus Fermentatio for how long it's taken for me to publish his article.
I feel a responsibility to not the individual but the community as a whole to document the brewers making a difference in the world of homebrewing, so moving forward we will be publishing Brew & A at the rate of one a month.
If you have a brewer you would like to see join the ranks of Brew & A, please send me a message and I will be sure to contact them.
Please join me in raising a glass to this month's latest brewer to join us for Brew & A, Gratus Fermentatio !
Salud!
Austin

 
Glad to see Brew & A come back! And I bet it was hard to dump that mead, since honey for that big of a batch had to cost you. But that parking lot must've smelled good for those three days?!...
 
Great feature. It's encouraging to see that a 'veteran' on HBTF has the same everyday brewing experiences/problems that newer brewers like myself deal with. And that AG is not necessarily the end-all to homebrewing.
 
Took awhile for me to get to read this...a lot going on! But I really enjoyed the Brew & A! GF is a regular on the "What did I cook...." thread. Good stuff!
 
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