Interview - Beer Utopia’s Chris

Chris, also known as Beer Utopia’s Czar of Zymurgy is a big homebrew enthusiast and has agreed to answer five questions to help everyone with their beer making projects:

1) When did you start brewing your own beer and why?
I started brewing less than a year ago. Honestly, I started brewing because we had just launched Beer Utopia and it gave me something to write about.I started with zero knowledge but approached it like an experiment. I’ve always been a do-it-yourself person so I wasn’t afraid to give it a try. I used the Internet for research and blogged about my home brewing experiences, good and bad. It was intriguing to me to learn how my favorite drink was made.

2) What advice would you give to homebrew beginners?
I would give two pieces of advice to beginners:
a) Write everything down. Keep a precise record of everything during the brewing process from the boil to bottling. If you keep detailed notes you can replicate success and troubleshoot problems.
b) Get involved with a brew club. Most cities have active brew clubs so seek them out and get involved. In my opinion, brewing with others or at least talking to other brewers is the best way to learn the art of brewing. If you can’t find a brew club, get involved in an online home brew community. The American Homebrewers Association is the granddaddy of brew groups but there are dozens of others out there on the ‘net.

3) What is the best tip to improve your beer that you have ever been given?
The best tip I’ve been given is to use a yeast starter instead of pitching the yeast directly into the wort. Creating a starter before you start brewing insures that you have healthy, active yeast when it comes time to pitch. Your fermentation will be faster and more vigorous and you don’t have to worry about an incomplete or stuck fermentation. On a related note, use liquid yeast rather than dry. It costs more but is worth it.

4) What is your favorite commercial beer?
My favorite commercial beer is usually the one in my hand. We are truly lucky that there is an abundance of exceptional craft beer available now so it’s hard to pick a favorite. I like Sam Adams a lot. I’ve heard people say that all of their beer tastes the same but I like the taste so it works for me. I also really like Flying Dogs beers, and I’m not just saying that because they are a Beer Utopia advertiser. They really push the envelope of craft beer and produce consistently awesome brews.

5) What is your favorite style of beer?

Before I started brewing my own I would have said my favorite style was a stout. Now that I have a little more discerning palette, I would say my favorite style depends on the occasion and time of year. I am enjoying all of the winter ales that are available right now but in the summer, a crisp amber ale or lager is great. My appreciation for the complexities of hops has grown as I have experimented with different hops varieties in my recipes so I like sweet, malty beers less than I used to. Overall, I like beers that have a complex flavor profile regardless of their style.

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