I made this toasted brown ale by combining chocolate malt, roasted barley, Canadian honey malt and a hint of smoked malt to make a comforting fireside beer for winter. Subtle use of Columbus and willemette hops provide a balanced light bitterness. English ale yeast adds another dimension of rich texture. The result is a chocolate malt driven beer with layers of vanilla, coffee hazelnut and dark chocolate.
How long have you been brewing for, how did you start?
I started my very first brew on April 25, 2017. So this brew, that we made, was probably, almost exactly a year later.
My friend was just bugging me "You should brew beer, you should brew beer". I was really intimidated by it, 'cause it just seemed like a lot to learn and we had a friend who was home brewing and his home brew is really good; it was a lot better than lot of beers I was tasting.
I said, look, I'm gonna go buy the stuff. So I went to the home brew shop and I bought a partial mash kit. I said to the guy, "I want to leap as far as I can, do I need to start with a kit or can I start from scratch?" And he said, "Do you have any cooking experience?" I said "Yeah, I've been a cook." He said "you'll be able to do this."
So he sold me a partial mash kit and then I asked my fried to bring our other friend over and give me some pointers. I did an IPA through a partial mash kit and it came out really nice. I enjoyed it and said great, from now on, I'm doing all grain.
I had a bunch of kegs that someone left at my house from a party I had a long time ago. I knew a lot of people in hospitality and we needed seats and they said "Oh, I'll bring over these kegs 'cause we have these seat tops you can put on them and people can just sit around." I was like alright, whatever. So they brought over six kegs for people to sit on. I called them, told them they could pick up the kegs and they never did. We lost touch and they sat in my yard for years. And I was trying to get rid of them. Like, how do I get rid of these, I want to throw these out.
So my friend was like, "You know, in America, everybody uses these to brew." I said "Well, how do they do that?" He's like "Well, they open them up, they cut 'em." I'm like "Oh, that sounds really hard." So I looked up some YouTube videos, opened them up, cut them up, started building my own brewing vessels.
Why did you choose the Toasted Brown Ale?
Because I wanted to do it for my birthday, the weather was cold and I have friends that don't drink IPA's. I wanted something like an IPA, yet easier to drink. So I was doing a New England IPA experiment. I was actually making my own beer for the first time, combining all these different ideas. I was trying to do a California IPA that was thick and juicy like a New England IPA, but I liked a bit of punch, and I also like the juiciness. I wanted both of that. I was like, a lot of my friends aren't going to be able to drink that, It's getting cold and I want something warm and comforting; something you drink by the fire and something that makes you feel really toasty.
So how would you describe the beer?
I'm using the term crushed velvet a lot 'cause of the velvety texture. My first name for it was actually Mocolate Chilk, it was a joke from when I was a kid and I was just calling it that on my birthday cause it's the reverse of chocolate milk, 'cause it's like a chocolate milky, sort of it's creamy, it's nutty with a hint of a burnt roasted chocolate flavor in the background and some nuttiness, with a texture of velvet on the tongue.
But what I love is that a lot of people are describing this, and I agree, that it actually feels really light at first and somehow it comes across creamy. I think that's kind of a surprise factor. I have been told "Wow, it's surprisingly creamy for how light it seems at first.”
Where would you like to take the beer next, how will this change things for you?
So, I'm happy working for somebody else and learning as much as I can about the professional brewing process and getting it to the commercial level. I want to see what it is that changes from home brew to commercial brewing. From home brewed to having your own brewery. Why are they so different and what do I need to know to try to keep the quality at the home brew level, which I like. It's very crafty. I want to learn.
How do you think Hops Aboard could help with that?
Oh, God. I mean, in a lot of ways, I hope. One is I'll have a professionally packaged beer that I can show people and say I'm not just some nutty professor in his garage, which is what I look like when I'm brewing.
I want to approach breweries and be like, this is what I brew, so I have some ability and I have a passion for it. I'm hoping that they want somebody like that as part of their team. That's what I want to find. I want to find a team that really values what I have to bring to the table, which is a lot of passion and curiosity. I research everything and I teach myself a lot of stuff. My friends make fun of me 'cause I'm interested in everything. I just research the hell out of stuff and I try lots of different things.
Now that you’ve experienced the competition from start to finish what would you tell other homebrewer’s about entering Hopsaboard?
The Hopsaboard competition is a gift to homebrewers looking to build on their brewing experience. The competition gives you feedback from certified Beer Judges as well as beer lovers just by your entering and later reading your score sheets.
If you are ambitious about your experience and you win Hopsaboard you are in for a university degree's worth of brewing experience. I'm a homebrewer looking to break into the professional brewing industry and winning Hopsaboard has given me such an amazing experience taking my beer from the home brew bottle to cans in restaurants and shops. There are so many experiences I loved after winning Hopsaboard from designing the label to getting my beer on taps in the best craft beer bars in Melbourne. Its an amazing thing to get compliments from beer judges at a competition for your winning homebrew but its a whole new level of pride and joy when your beer sells out in two days at a respected craft beer bar in Melbourne! If you win Hopsaboard and want to get a taste of what its like to brew a commercial batch of your beer and you are willing to milk your win for all its worth you will be rewarded for your efforts with a new level of brewing experience and knowledge as well as testing the commercial viability of your talent and craft.
Even if you don't win Hopsaboard you'll get a new set of eyes and palettes to get feedback from. With Hopsaboard you will compete in a totally different competition than your typical homebrew competition. The certified Homebrew competitions around Australia are all fantastic but Hopsaboard offers an entirely new type of competition with a prize that is beyond anything offered anywhere else.
After I won Hopsaboard I got to integrate the packaging design I'd been dreaming of and i got to sell my kegs to all of my favourite bars. Alvaro and Jacob are incredibly accommodating and they both work hard to make your craft beer brewing dreams come to life. Alvaro and Jacob at Hopsaboard made it possible for me to experience all the things I dreamed of doing with my homebrew beer that I thought were going to be way off in some distant unobtainable future. The fact is after I won Hopsaboard my beer was on tap in my favourite bar within 2 months!