I'm the shocked-looking fellow in the image at the left, who had just learned that he'd won the Barley's 23rd Annual Home Brewing competition.

I'm in my early 50's, and work for a large non-profit organization in Central Ohio as an engineer in the IT division. That job feeds my brewing addiction...

I started home brewing in approximately 2012. I didn't keep good records in the early days, so I can't tell you for sure when I started.

I began with the Mr. Beer kit that many home brewers start with. From there, I graduated to an 8-gallon Mega Pot 1.2 kettle and 5-gallon batches on the kitchen stove. In 2014, I supported the Kickstarter for the iMake Grainfather RIMS brewing system. I used The Grainfather from late 2014 until very late in 2017. At that time, I was offered a deal on PicoBrew's Zymatic brewing system - and I took it. In late 2018, I was offered an even better deal on the Brewie+ automated system, and I took that, too. I've made several batches in the Brewie+ but have yet to put any of those in competition.

I didn't start competing with my home brew until 2017. My first time out, I placed 5 different beers into 2 different competitions. Two of those beers earned silver medals at the Ohio State Fair. A different one took third place (overall) at Barley's Ale House's 22nd Annual Homebrew Competition.

In 2018, I entered three competitions. At the Rhinegeist competition, I entered two beers which failed to place in the categories. At the 2018 Ohio State Fair, my Belgian Tripel took a fourth place ribbon. As the image above shows, I actually won the 2018 Barley's competition with a Belgian Dark Strong Ale.

If you scan this blog, you'll see that Belgian-style beers are my clear favorite. I've made lots of Belgian Single, Dubbel, Tripel, and Dark Strong Ales. The styles you won't see many of are those with a decidedly hop-forward nature like India Pale Ales (IPAs) and American Pale Ales. Those are styles I typically don't seek out to drink, so I don't tend to brew them either. By my best estimates as of this writing, I've brewed probably 15 of the 34 major listed BJCP styles, and about 35 of the "subcategories" listed under those 34 styles.

My current setup consists of the following (links go to manufacturer and product pages):
  • Brewie+ automated brewing system
  • PicoBrew Zymatic automated brewing system
  • iMake's The Grainfather (for larger batches)
  • A selection of Anvil, Chapman, SS Brewing Technologies, and other fermenters
  • A refractometer
  • Three Tilt Hydrometers and a Raspberry Pi system for logging fermentation data
  • Fermwrap heaters and InkBird temperature controllers
  • Two 120-quart Marine Coolers used for bottle conditioning
  • A rack-and-pinion capper from William's Brewing
  • A few FastRack drying trays
  • A stainless steel immersion chiller
  • A mini-fridge for cold-crashing and other uses
  • and miscellaneous other odds and ends
In late 2018, I joined the SODZ (Scioto Olentangy Darby Zymurgists) club.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Mike, I learned a lot about the workings of the Grainfather from your articles. Do you still use the Grainfather?