Name: Chris Becker
Home Brewery Name: Becker Brewing
Brewing Since: September 2012
ZOO Member since: March 2013
Typical batch size: 7 Gallons
Favorite style to brew: Wild ales and Belgian styles.
Brewing Setup: I run a 15 gallon direct-fired RIMS mash tun with a recirculating pump. I don’t have a brew stand at this point, but am planning on adapting my current setup to a two tiered setup with digital control.
How did you get started brewing?
A friend, Keith, suggested we both buy home brewing kits online because it sounded like a fun hobby. I decided to buy one because I’ve always enjoyed beer and cooking, and it seemed like a good way to enjoy both of those hobbies. Armed with a seven gallon pot, a carboy, and some jugs of extract, I made my first batch.
How did you find out about the club?
Keith was looking for feedback on one of his beers and told me about a local competition (Hoppy St Patrick). We entered and both won medals, so we decided to check out the club the next month.
What has been your biggest challenge as a homebrewer?
Right now, my biggest challenge is time. I go to college full time and have two part time jobs, so I’m very limited by when I can brew. I’d love to brew once a month, but that rarely happens any more.
What was the biggest mishap you ever encountered when brewing? (bottle bombs, broken equipment, big messes, etc.)
Probably the largest mishap I encountered was also one of the greatest mistakes I made. The second beer I brewed was going to be a Belgian dubbel, sort of like chimay blue. I got the extract kit from an online company and read through the reviews. One mentioned using a particular wyeast private collection yeast strain to improve the beer. Not knowing any better, I bought it, brewed the beer, and added the yeast. It wasn’t until later that night that I decided I should google what “brettanomyces” was. Thankfully, the beer turned out excellent, and sparked my interest in mixed fermentation brewing.
Have you ever had to dump a batch?
Yes. I brewed a Berliner Weisse and used a handful of uncrushed grain to inoculate the beer for a sour mash. During the sour mash, the beer started to smell off, kind of like baby farts and spoiled milk. I finished off the beer and fermented it, hoping that aroma would go away. It never did. While the beer tasted alright, the aroma was just too much to overcome. It went down the drain.
What has been your biggest success as a homebrewer?
Since I got into mixed fermentation brewing, I wanted to attempt a turbid mash, which is a multi-step mash which involves heating a rather protein rich part of the wort during mashing in a separate vessel. It is a traditional Belgian brewing technique, and has a lot of moving parts. In September 2014 I finally had the equipment and ambition to attempt it, and it went extremely well. I haven’t sampled the beer yet, but it is looking great. I expect it to be one of the better beers I have brewed so far.
What is your favorite part of brewing your own beer?
The experimentation and chemistry involved. I love the sciences, so being able to build my own water, tinker with difficult recipes or brewing profiles, and predict outcomes based on the numbers I get during a brew session is extremely fun for me. I love the freedom of designing something that is totally unique, yet at the same time it still works out.
Do you have any other stories, facts, or information about yourself you would like to share with the club?
No, although if you are interested in learning more about brewing with things other than Saccharomyces, please get in touch!
To contact Chris Becker, please register on our forums or comment below. Chris’s forum user name is Becker07.