Full Name: John Huhn
Home Brewery name (if you have one):
Coop’s Craft Brew
How long have you been brewing?
How did you get started brewing?
I became a fan of craft beer in the late 90s shortly after the opening the Springfield Brewing Company. As was the normal in those days, I met up with some co-workers after hours. While there one day, I discovered one of my colleagues was making his own beer at home. I began picking his brain about the process and was eventually invited to his house for a brew day. Turns out it was incidentally the date of the 1st AHA Learn To Homebrew Day in 1999. I was hooked from that day forward.
How long have you been a member of the ZOO?
August of 2014.
How did you find out about the club?
I went to the Craft Beer Bash in July of 2014 and saw the Homebrew Zoo booth next to The Homebrewery booth. I talked to Randy West about the club at the booth and decided to give it a chance.
Typical batch size:
Describe your brewing setup:
Currently, my set up is a homemade gravity fed three-tiered brew stand with a 10 gallon beverage cooler HLT and mash tun and a 15.5 gallon Keggle with a propane cooker.
What is your favorite style to brew?
I’m a fan of UK style Ales, specifically Stouts, Browns, and Porters as well as Irish and Scottish Ales. I’ve made them from the beginning and it’s what I’m most comfortable brewing, but now that I have a dedicated fridge with a temp controller for fermentation, I’m looking to expand into lagers and Trappist style ales.
What has been your biggest challenge as a homebrewer?
Space. I have taken up nearly every spot possible in the pantry and closets to store my beer. I’ve wanted to keg my beer for years, but I just don’t have a place to keep the kegs let alone chill them for serving.
Have you ever had to dump a batch? If so, what happened?
Who hasn’t? Early in learning to brew, I had two straight batches of completely different beer (Irish Red Ale and Scottish 70 Shilling) turn out with an acrid-vinegary odor and taste. It was much too strong and made the beer un-drinkable. I discovered the problem was from an infection in my system. It was a painful but valuable lesson to learn about the importance replacing hoses regularly and tightening up my sanitation practices.
What was the biggest mishap you ever encountered when brewing? (bottle bombs, broken equipment, big messes, etc.)
I’ve had all manner of mishaps over the years. From leaving the valve open on my keggle during lautering and losing about a gallon of the first runnings, to having the bottom of a case of bottled beer tear open and nearly every bottle exploding on the tile floor. But the biggest disaster I can recall was when I had a carboy of an American Blonde Ale fermenting in a swamp cooler and had a power outage while I was at work. With no electricity, the fan I had set up blow on the tee-shirt covered carboy had no chance to use the power of evaporative cooling to keep the beer at acceptable temperatures. It just happened to be an unseasonably hot day and even with the thermal load of the water in the swamp cooler, the temperature of the beer rose into the upper 80s. When I got home from work, I discovered the power outage and tried to bring the temperature down with ice in the swamp cooler. Because of the spike in temps the beer finished fermenting in 3 days and had a strong solvent and banana flavor. To make it somewhat drinkable, I had to dose each bottle with fruit extract to mask the solvent-like flavor. Even then it was barely tolerable.
What has been your biggest success as a homebrewer?
While winning two gold medals at the 1776 club contest is great validation, I find even more joy in having friends and family ask if I can brew a batch just for them. Of course, all I ask is they help on brew day for payment.
What is your favorite part of brewing your own beer?
I enjoy the ability to make beer styles that are hard or impossible to find in stores. Being able to have a beer like an English Brown Porter or a Scottish 70 Shilling any time I want without having to face the risk of a poorly handled and oxidized import is one of my favorite parts of this hobby.
Do you have any other stories, facts, or information about yourself you would like to share with the club?
I just completed a project to make the brew day easier and less physically taxing. The plan was make a tool for safely moving a full carboy into my dedicated fermentation fridge and back out after fermentation without having to hoist the carboy and risk sloshing the fermented and conditioned beer or worse, dropping a full carboy.
I designed a four-wheeled dolly at the same height as the platform inside my fermentation fridge. As I worked out the details, the project grew from being a way to transport the full carboy into and out of the fridge to also include the ability to move the kettle full of chilled wort from my brew stand into the garage for racking into the carboy. The dolly works perfectly and makes the day completely pain free. It’s also much safer, in that I no longer have to penguin walk across the garage with the carboy in a brew hauler between my knees. The only modification I can see making to this would be to add a push-pull arm like a pallet jack.
To contact John Huhn, please register on our forums or comment below. John’s forum user name is Huhnjo.