Meet The Home Brewer
Name: Steve Gardner
How many years have you been Brewing? Just over two
How did you get into Home Brewing? I was chatting to someone who had just started and it sounded like something I’d enjoy – both the process and the product
Favourite brewing method? All Grain (Grainfather)
Piece of equipment you just can’t do without? Grainfather
Favourite style of beer to brew? IPA (Berliner Weisse is a close second)
Best beer you’ve ever tasted – besides your own! Cantillon Lambic
Favourite hop? Any of the NZ/AU hops or the more citrusy American varieties. As an aroma/flavor base I’d have to say Amarillo but it always does better with a partner.
Best beer you’ve ever brewed? Most challenging would have to be a Berliner Weisse but favorite to drink is my IPA which I’ve brewed many times at different strengths and with different hop varieties. The best iteration was my last BTS and nationals entry. It made the finals at nationals but got marked down for being too malty for the style – unfortunately that’s how I like my IPAs
Worst beer you’ve ever brewed? Why did it end so badly? I’ve had loads. All my early beers were nasty. I started using unhoped extract and then hopping myself but later learnt more about extract and realized they probably weren’t well stored and this has a serious impact on the quality resulting in darkening and strong molasses/honey flavors (look into the Maillard reaction if you’re still brewing with extract).
Tap water has also spoilt many brews until I switched to RO (Oasis) water.
Laziness with fermentation (pitching when wort too hot and not cleaning a blow off quickly enough) has also been a lesson.
Biggest disaster you’ve had on a brew day? Chiller overflow pipe popped out the drain and sprayed my bare foot with boiling water (it was the water that had been sitting in the chiller while submerged for the last 10 minutes of the boil) – I still have the scar to prove it.
Best South African beer at the moment? Darling Brew’s Warlord Imperial IPA. It’s just how I like my IPAs – strong and malty with a bitterness that builds and balances the beer about two thirds of the way through leaving you craving another. For me this beer is almost like a hoppy barley wine.
Do you have any brewing tips to share, that you wished you had known about sooner? Water is the answer to the most common off flavors, show your yeast some respect and when experimenting, don’t make too many changes in the same brew otherwise you’ll never know what worked.