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Brew & A: Jay L. Webster

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Jay L. Webster is a man on a mission. Since the inception of his idea, the Jaybird Stainless Steel False bottoms, he has sought to bring innovation through design to brewers the world over. From his humble beginnings as a member / brewer to the start of his business Norcal Brewing Solutions, Jay has been a constant driving influence on HomeBrewTalk and a model for all brewers looking to break the monotony of the 9-5 grind and do what they love for a living. If you don't know Jay "Jaybird" Webster here's a primer to catch you up.
Real Name: Jay L. Webster
Username: Jaybird
Threads of Note:
Greetings From Redding CA!
Jaybird's Stainless False Bottoms
Drop Top Cranberry HARD Lemonade
Gluten Free might just be getting better! A LOT BETTER!
I sat down with Jay to get to know the brewer, the innovator, and the businessman.

TxBrew: How did you start brewing?
Jay: I was sitting at home June 8th 2006 the day before my birthday having a nice glass of American Amber ale and my buddy called me on the phone and told me Alton Brown was doing a show on "water,hops,barley and yeast everything you need to know to make great tasting BEER at home" I told my buddy I was 7 min away and I would see him in 4 I jumped in my car and RACED over there (I didn't have cable at the time). We watched Alton brew in that 30 min show and the very next day we were at the LHBS buying a start up kit and a batch of American Amber Ale extract with steeping grains. Its very cool the gentleman that owned the LHBS way back then (Raymond Alt may he Rest in Peace) lent me his keggle for that very first batch and asked us to just bring it back the next day, as we did. He continued to loan us that kettle and just asked us to bring it back when we were done. When he passed away he willed that kettle to me and now as the owner of my own store I do the same thing with that kettle free of charge for new brewers or anyone local that needs to use it. Pay it forward ya know?
TxBrew: What's your favorite beer?
Jay: Man that's a real tough one. I'll break it down to a BJCP category 18...Belgian... Fair enough? LOL
TxBrew: I think this question needs some props. So you're on an island, just you and the beer of your choice, and a monkey named Mark to do monkey butler things. What are you drinking?
Jay: Allagash Curieux. And I have to give HUGE props to 1Mainebrew an HBT'r who developed the clone for this beer it is SPOT on!
TxBrew: What's one piece of your brew setup you can't live without?
Jay: My Jaybird 15" reversed hinge false bottom system with a level 1 and level 3 stand for my MLT and my BK I wouldn't brew with out them
TxBrew: Can you tell us more about the development of the product that bears your name?
Jay: Ohh man the Jaybird line of false bottoms has been a whirlwind of an adventure. It started out here on HBT with a sheet of used stainless perf that was given to me by the company I was working for at the time. I was building my brew system and needed something to filter the grain in my MLT so I cut a round disc and bottom drained my kettle. Well I had a bunch of material left over so I offered it up to the guys here for the cost of shipping.
I think there were 50 or more people that wanted in and I quickly ran out. Well a few months later the company had another sheet they gave me and so I did the same thing. I had people asking if I could custom build this and that, can I hinge it, can I roll it, I would spend HOURS after my 12 hour shifts at work, building what is now the Jaybird false bottoms. I have since developed the integrated design for use in ALL kettles out there and they are selling like crazy! It's funny because I am an 18yr career industrial electrician and am just now starting to develop an electrical system for the breweries we build, and YES we will market it for sure.


TxBrew: What's the worst product you've ever used?
Jay: BMC ha ha ha...
TxBrew: I think it's an understood, but you're the first to say it so I got to nail it down a bit. What do you dislike about the BMC products?
Jay: Lack of character of the beer really is about it. Don't get me wrong I appreciate what it takes to make a good drinkable light American lager. We all know that brewing them well, is like the Mt. Everest in brewing. I just like my beers to have a LOT more character.
TxBrew: Why do you homebrew?
Jay: Ya know I started because I really liked to cook and I really liked quality beer. There was something about brewing that just consumed me. I fell in love with the math and science and of course the great beer. I quickly found HBT I think in July of 2006 and really started to enjoy the camaraderie between brewers and started to see that there was a true "BEER CULTURE" that I just felt at home being a part of.
TxBrew: We seem to have a lot of cooks here. What do you enjoy preparing? Any recipes you care to share with us?
Jay: My wife calls me the midnight chef. I tend to cook better at midnight, zero stress of people waiting, no schedule, no wondering if its good or not, the kitchen is quiet and you are free to just create. I will raid the fridge and just start destroying the kitchen. I am a no rules midnight chef. I like to combine foods from countries that have absolutely no place being on the same plate. I will make a simple pasta dish with meatballs (ground steak, sausage, ham and bacon) and marinara. Fry a couple of corn tortillas in olive oil, parmesan cheese, and fresh pressed garlic. Then serve the pasta (fried in what was left in the pan after the tortillas) over the tortillas and top with fresh ground blue cheese. Yeah like I said I will destroy the kitchen..LOL
TxBrew: What's your homebrewing style - extract, partial mash, all-grain, biab, or ?
Jay: I do it all. Having a homebrew store you really have to keep up with the latest brewing techniques so we can teach our customers. I tend to steer more towards All Grain brewing just because I have designed and built my brewing system to meet my brewing needs and I just really like to use it. But we do batches of beer in front of the store once a month and we utilize all the styles for sure.
TxBrew: Tell us about one of your most memorable homebrewing experiences.
Jay: I would say my first Homebrew festival BUT.... I can't remember it. Seriously though in all honesty I would say you're not a homebrewer till you have been woken up at 3AM to the sound and smell of your carboy exploding all over your SWMBO walk in closet...Yeah I still catch grief for that and is always a fun story to tell...
TxBrew: Does SWMBO brew with you? How involved are your friends and family in your brewing?

Jay: She doesn't. Call me selfish and I love here to death but I don't want her in the brewery when I am brewing and to be honest she doesn't want to be there anyway. She does love the beers though! My sons will come help from time to time and My son Q LOVES to eat the hot, spent grain right out of the MLT after I dump it and I do like to hear them read to each other so I used to give them brewing books, set them on the counter in the brewery and have them read to me while I brew.

TxBrew: Describe the perfect beer - style, aroma, flavor, etc.
Jay: BJCP 18C Belgian Triple but Bourbon barrel aged and served bottle conditioned, fermented with an Abby yeast. The aroma would be of slight citrus esters that are hidden barely by the depth of the lingering oak and subdued bourbon. The flavor would hit your pallet like a bomb, fairly hot of alcohol with a nice mellow malt backbone. golden color and crystal clear with a brilliant white head. I want it to be bottle conditioned, cork and caged is an absolute must! and when you pop it I want it to almost (almost) shoot out of the bottle.
TxBrew: What's your dream brew rig, and how would you assemble it?



Jay: I designed and built my dream brew rig early 2007 and still use it today almost untouched from the day we finished her. Hard lined, Digital electric HLT, gravity to my MLT and the BK both have 15" Jaybird False Bottoms of course. Gravity feed out of both the BK and the MLT to a central (electric float switch and relay controlled) grant and pump from there to anywhere in the system that wort needs to go. EVERYTHING is electric float switch controlled and flow control is all manual using simple ball valves. Tippy dump MLT. I like that my HLT is self contained and the process of fly sparging on my system is also electric float controlled so I can kind of "set it and forget it". I really like that I can brew back to back batches and have 2, 12 gallon batches going at the same time in the system and I do all this with 1 pump. If I was to make 1 change (and I will) I am going to make my BK electric so I can take my system back to the store and brew inside.

TxBrew: What is the one piece of advice you wish someone would've giving you when you first started?
Jay: Don't start! It's an addictive hobby and it will consume your entire being... Just kidding (kind of) but really, I think I ended up getting great advice here and haven't made many changes to my process along the way. I went all grain after my first batch, I only bottled my first batch of beer and realized I didn't like that part of the process so I started kegging. I bought a fridge and did temp control early on too. So maybe making yeast starters and doing the proper pitch rates. This isn't really something we here on HBT talked about all too much back in the day.
I really want to take a moment a thank the entire HBT community for all the support to me, my company and my products over the years. I wouldn't be here and doing this if it wasn't for you all and the passion you all have for homebrewing as a culture! A lot of people here have said HBT is like a family and it really is. TxBrew you and your team have created something very special here!
I really appreciate Jay sitting down with me to answer our questions. I have received a ton of request to interview a multitude of brewers both from HomeBrewTalk and the world of brewing. Many have accepted so keep checking back every Friday for more of Brew & A!
 
Thanks Jay! I really love that you are loaning out that boil kettle to this day. That is really great.
 
I have a NorCal false bottom in my keggle. It's awesome, I have almost zero dead space. Keep up the good work!
 
Thanks guys! This was a total blast and to be honest I felt very honored to be included..
Grathan it is actually the opposite it is a heat jacket. It was built from an old pool filter and I wrapped the boil kettle with it and I vent it out the back. There is about a 1" air gap between the BK and the outer jacket. So the heat is trapped on the sides. It makes it very efficient because I loose very little heat.
Cheers
Jay
 
I could use something to hold heat in the mash tun better myself. And that video about the toughness of your product is impressive!
 
@unionrdr thanks man the video was a lot of fun to shoot.
and yes if one was to do the wrap like I did on my boil kettle you could get away with using a lot less gas and heat your MLT the same way for sure.
Cheers
Jay
 
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