Adam Hieronymus

Adam Hieronymus is an Inside Sales Representative and an avid homebrewer. “In the year 2000”, he got hooked on brewing with the Mr. Beer Kit and has never looked back.  Adam started with Country Malt Group 4 years ago as Hop Contract Specialist and traveled to Yakima, Washington multiple times for Hop & Brew School and Hop Harvest. (He is related to Stan Hieronymus, but you will have to ask him about this). Adam serves customers in Montana, Washington, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. 

Jon Mendrick

Jon Mendrick is an avid, long time homebrewer and beer enthusiast.  He owned Mountain Homebrew in Kirkland, WA for 18 years before joining the Country Malt Group Sales Team covering the Northwest.  These days, when he’s not enjoying time with his family on a mountain somewhere with a beer under a rainbow, you can find him running around Washington, Idaho & Montana visiting many of the same customers he taught how to brew many years ago!

Jonathan Plise

Jonathan Plise started homebrewing in 2001 where he got his first full time job at MoreBeer.com.  He co-founded thebrewingnetwork.com in 2005, an online podcast dedicated to craft beer.  Plise has won hundreds of medals from various homebrew competitions.  The most notable accolades are winning 9 gold medals at the California State Fair in 2006.  That same year, he won California Homebrewer of the Year.  Plise joined the CMG team in 2015 and has been enjoying selling malt to breweries ever since.  He is a proud father of two children, loves baseball and is madly in love with his wife. Jonathan is the Territory Manager for Northern California and Oregon.

Matt Chalmers

Matt Chalmers is the Country Malt Group’s Territory Manager for Eastern Canada and Maine, striving to provide the best service possible to our customers. When not working, Matt gets creative with CMG’s latest ingredients as a homebrewer. Matt’s friends affectionately refer to him as “Super Nintendo”, thanks to an episode of the Simpsons.











Key Points From This Episode:

  • How the team takes work home and dabbles in brewing on a non-commercial scale. 
  • What new malts and hops do the team members tend to use or try with homebrew systems. 
  • How Cryo Pop is a blend of different survivable hop varieties that are then put in a cryo format. 
  • Can brewers taste the difference between red and white wheat with homebrewing. 
  • How hot steep mash works and how quickly it creates an idea of flavor. 
  • How helles recipes are the perfect balance of malt and hops, and very clean, aromatic, and malty.  
  • How everybody has multiple brewing rig systems – from mash & boil to kegs and grinders.  
  • What’s new and interesting in the brewing scene. 
  • What team members know now that they wish they knew when they started. 
  • How home brewing technology has really improved but some people still haven’t caught onto it. 
  • Their best brewing advice: Treat yeast right, knock out colder with regular counterflow chillers.  
Transcript - Hawaiian Shirt Day



TT [00:00:00]: The BrewDeck podcast is celebrating our one-year anniversary this week, but we’re not going to fully rest on our laurels. We’ve got another new episode coming at you. If you’re new to the podcast, we usually talk all things craft beer with a focus on pro brewing, but today we’re going to switch it up a bit and talk more towards home brews and recipe formulation in general.
We are celebrating our podcast birthday today—I think it’s been one year—by keeping this week’s episode a bit more casual than usual. Today’s episode is not looking to focus on one particular topic: just some cake, beer, and good conversation.
We gathered up some passionate folks who just happen to be on our stellar team sales folks at Country Malt Group to chat about their recent brewing endeavors and general brewing philosophies. Our guests have 50+ years of combined knowledge working in the brewing industry and are tuned in to the latest topics surrounding craft beer.
Oh, and remember, today, Friday is Hawaiian shirt day. If you want to, go ahead and wear a Hawaiian shirt and jeans as you join us for a more casual, less lumbered episode of The BrewDeck. Our guest today, I guarantee you have more than 15 pieces of flair. By the way, did anyone catch that reference on the last one?
GL [00:01:12]: Flair. Oh yeah.
TT [00:01:13]: Nobody laughed. I’ll schedule a separate call with you all. Gosh, I thought that was great. Thanks to Grant. All right. Let’s get back to it. First of all, my sidekick and partner in crime, Grant Lawrence, our south-central territory manager. How are you doing, Grant?
GL [00:01:31]: Doing well as always, Toby. Glad to be here.
TT [00:01:32]: And Adam Hieronymous, who’s been on the show before talking hops and other things. He is our inside sales representative who is based in the Pacific Northwest and covers six states for Country Malt Group. Adam, welcome.
AH [00:01:44]: Thank you so much.
TT [00:01:45]: New to the show, Matt Chalmers, TM covering the eastern third of the country occupied by our friends way up to the North. Matt, how goes it?
MC [00:01:53]: Hey, it goes well. Bonjour tout le monde.
TT [00:01:55]: I don’t know what the hell you just said, but what’s up? Mr. Jonathan Plise, TM covering the northern portion of California as well as Oregon. Mr. Plise, what’s up?
JP [00:02:05]: How’s it going?
TT [00:02:08]: Last but not least, the guy is still in his pajamas and flip-flops outside of his travel trailer somewhere in an open parking lot next to a mountain range, Jon Mendrick. Our TM for Washington, Idaho, and Montana. Mendrick?
JM [00:02:21]: Happy to report I’m 100%, man. I am doing great.
TT [00:02:25]: Awesome. We got two Jons. Actually, I got several Jons on the team. So if I refer to Jonathan Plise as Plise and Jon Mendrick as Mendrick, you know who I’m talking about.
Well, cool. Hey, I appreciate everybody jumping on. This is Grant’s wonderful idea this week, and I’m glad we could do it. I don’t think a lot of people realize that we have a lot of passionate people on our team, specifically on the sales side. Well, generally all across our organization. What’s interesting is most of the folks on our team take work home with them. Not only because we’re trying to service customers and take care of brewers and distillers as best we can, but they actually got into this business because all things brewing and distilling was a hobby of theirs.
It’s interesting and not surprising that while most of us aren’t working, we are still dabbling in continuing to brew at home on a non-commercial scale. It’s cool that we can have you guys on to talk about what you’re doing, as kind of side projects to work, and specifically talk about what you’re doing on the homebrew side and go from there. Welcome, everybody.
AH [00:03:26]: Sweet.
MC [00:03:27]: Thank you.
JM [00:03:28]: Thanks, Toby.
TT [00:03:29]: Yeah, no problem. Let me first talk about new malts and new hops that each of you tends to use or have been trialing on your homebrew systems that you might want to share with the listeners. I’ll start with Grant.
GL [00:03:41]: They call it Cryo Pop now, but back when it’s experimental, that’s the latest new item that I’ve been messing around with. Just for those that don’t know out there listening, it’s a blend of a bunch of different survivable hop varieties, and then it’s in the cryo format now.
It’s really neat because YCH had a whole bunch of research and all the flavors. Their research is pointing to these varieties having flavors that carry over into finished beer, whereas other stuff gets boiled away or lost in the process. That’s what I’ve been playing with lately. Just making yummy Kveik-based IPAs that I can turn over relatively quickly with the Cryo Pop, and I’ve loved it.
TT [00:04:19]: Nice. And I think, Adam, you just recently, as of like a week or two, brewed something with Cryo Pop, right?
AH [00:04:25]: Yeah, my brother and I did an IPA with it. We broke it into two batches where we dry hops. I used Idaho 7 and the Cryo Pop, and then my brother used the Citra and the Cryo Pop. It was crazy on the differences that it enhanced the Citra on my brother’s and then the Idaho 7 on mine. It was just really cool to see that and taste it.
GL [00:04:45]: It’s the hot boost technology.
AH [00:04:47]: Yep.
TT [00:04:49]: Nice. Plise, I know you threw out over the last couple of months like 8, 9, 10 different brews. What do you tend to fall on, or what’s your go-to malt or hops?
JP [00:05:00]: I focus mostly on malt. I’m not really into hops. I think they’re overrated, but that’s just me. I put a lot of my money into base malt. I’ve been doing trials with BESTMALZ Heidelberg, compared to BESTMALZ Pilsner, compared to Pure Idaho Pilsner from Great Western. It’s doing side by side with my lagers and lower gravity ales. Just constantly using these malts continuously over and over. I think […] to start now over 30 times. Constantly fine-tuning my water, my salt ratios, mash temperatures to boil times, and just looking at what the base malt does for my beer.
TT [00:05:37]: Absolutely. Matt Chalmers, what about you? What are you working with these days?
MC [00:05:42]: Probably a bit of a hybrid of the last few. I’ve been messing around with making IPAs out of, as Plise, I was trying out the Heidelberg. I can’t get enough of the Heidelberg but was also making some IPAs with it to lower the color. Everybody’s chasing those low color, hazy IPAs these days, hopping them up with that Cryo Pop, and the results have been really good. Just tropical fruit bombs. People are looking forward to that style.
To further that, the last batch that I did, did a nice little experiment with […] malt and red wheat. I was able to use that to dial down the usage of the wheat to get enhanced head retention and protein levels. Throw that in with flaked oats, some chit, and the results were off the charts really, really good stuff. I’ll be doing it again.
GL [00:06:26]: Good for a grab bag there with different malts for the haze aspects of them, right? As you said, wheat, oats, and was there another one?
MC [00:06:37]: Yeah. Just a little touch of chit that I had lying around. Yeah.
TT [00:06:41]: It’s interesting, Matt, you’re the second person. Plise mentioned Heidelberg as well. It’s a very low color malt coming from BESTMALZ, one of our German suppliers. When you talk about a very low color base malt specifically for an IPA, it’s a fantastic base malt.
You mentioned the red wheat from CMC, which is a fairly new product. When I first started, there were people that swore by—I love red wheat, as opposed to white wheat, and I never really could grasp any flavor differences. There are certainly comments and so forth from customers that can truly taste the difference between white wheat and red wheat. Is there any truth to that as far as your homebrewing?
MC [00:07:19]: Hard to say with a flavor profile. There’s definitely more of a mouthfeel with the red compared to the white. I’m not picking up too much of a flavor difference; it’s really more of a mouthfeel for me.
TT [00:07:30]: Good info. All right, Mendrick. I know he’s got a nice little tabletop system, and he actually brews quite a bit with our products in preparation for hitting the road back when we could and really allows him to talk and speak more eloquently, if you will, about some of our products because he’s actually using them. Jon, what are you tending to use as far as malt hops or other products right now?
JM [00:07:54]: Yeah, for sure. A lot like Plise and the rest of them. I’m constantly taking our malts and doing trials comparing them to other malts, so I’m educated when I hit the road. So I know exactly how these malts perform, their flavor profiles, et cetera. I do the same thing with hops. I am looking forward to experimenting with the Cryo Pop. I just picked some up the other day when I was down in Vancouver.
I got some new experiments coming up with our Light Munich. I’m really looking forward to that. Fremont Brewing just launched a beer called Live Wire that uses the Light Munich as a base, and I was just blown away with it. I’m going to start some new experiments with that mixed in with a little bit of Pure Idaho and our Great Western Vienna and trying to come up with some wonderful combinations. See what I can get out of that.
I have three brewing systems, actually. I’ve got a Blichmann Brew […] 15-gallon system there. I got an old automated PicoBrew system, and then I got the five-gallon brew and mash. I’ve got quite an array of options to experiment with, and just constantly looking to educate myself on our products with my home brewing.
TT [00:08:59]: It’s pretty awesome that we all have access to equipment and product, but hey Grant, real quick and off-topic there. For the listeners or for the homebrewers that can’t just throw together a batch just to get an idea of what a malt or grain tastes like, can you talk a little bit about the hot steep mash? About how that works and how you can kind of fairly quickly get an idea of flavor profile?
GL [00:09:24]: You can look up the method. It’s pretty easy to obtain them on the internet. It’s the ASBC, American Society of Brewing Chemists, but it really just comes down to if you’re doing it on a homebrew scale, you don’t have to do it quite to the level that a lab would do it. You’re doing miniature mashes in funnels, if you will, and steeping it, almost like making tea with malt really quickly.
It’s pretty neat. It’s a lot better than the classic thing to do is just chew, and you should still do a chew evaluation. But a hot steep is just the next level because flavors and aromas are different in liquid format versus you just chewing the raw malt.
Anybody who wants to try new ingredients or get an idea of what they taste like, the best is when you’re really trying to – like Jonathan was saying – when you’ve got three pils malt, and you want to know the differences between them. It’s going to be tough to just get that in a chew, but if you do a hot steep, you’ll really see the differences.
TT [00:10:20]: Yeah, I agree. It’s a good way to put some things side by side in similar categories of malt and just get a feel for what you prefer. Plise, you’ve been brewing a lot of Helles, right? You’re a big fan.
JP [00:10:33]: I’m a fan for sure. I’m drinking one right now.
TT [00:10:36]: Nice.
JP [00:10:37]: On the clock, Toby. On the clock.
TT [00:10:40]: No, technically, it’s not yet. Well, it’s all good.
JP [00:10:44]: That’s true.
TT [00:10:44]: You got to pass today. You’ve done a bunch of Helles. Are you pretty confident about where your recipe is today?
JP [00:10:53]: It’s getting there. I produced the Munich 3%. I’ve used my Carafoam 3%. I’ve been doing multiple yeast trials the last year. I’ve been brewing this beer for like 16 years. I just ordered some BSI Augustiner Yeast through my local craft brewery. He ordered for me. I’ll pay him back just so I can have a third yeast strain in the game, be like, all right, do I want to go this route for the perfect Helles and just keep propagating and keep brewing it up.
When I started brewing the Helles 15 years ago, I never put a lot of stock and do the water. I have a carbon block filter, but I would always do the 5.2 stabilizer. But that was the wrong way to go. You got to get your chloride ratios up these days and looking at my local water. Every year, I look at the report now, and I plug it into my app with John Palmer’s app on my phone and just dialing in the chloride. Really get that alkalinity down using phosphoric acid, constantly changing the dosages, maybe the alkalinity by half a mil or one mil. Every time I brew, I tweak a little bit.
I think it kind of brings out the perfect Helles because the Helles, to me, is this perfect balance of malt and hops at a very sessionable level, but it’s so clean, aromatic, and malty. There’s nothing to hide behind, and it’s really hard to do well. So yeah, Helles is definitely my baby.
GL [00:12:15]: Well, can you go over that grist one more time? What’s your liking?
JP [00:12:19]: Yeah, it’s basically 94% that’s Best Heidelberg, 3% Munich, and 3% Carafoam Extra Pilsner. I’m really a big fan of the Weyermann Carafoam. It brings out great head retention on the beer. It laces on the glass. It’s just a really nice head retention malt.
TT [00:12:39]: Have you ever tried Carahell in that recipe?
JP [00:12:42]: No, I should.
MC [00:12:43]: I basically had the same recipes as you except that I swapped the Carafoam for the Carahell.
JP [00:12:49]: I’ll try that next. Thank you, Mendrick.
GL [00:12:53]: One of the things that I’ve seen down here in Texas, kind of lager country, right? There are different things. I like the small inclusion of Munich because it’s going to give you just a little bit more flavor and the dextrins from Munich. But there are a lot of folks that absolutely swear by 100% pils; at least here, that’s a common thing that I see.
JP [00:13:15]: It’s funny you say that because I keep reducing my Munich more and more because Helles is like the straw color, super clean and crisp. A little bit of Munich will give that golden hue, but I still think there’s a […] and there’s a mouthfeel that a little bit of Munich brings out to the Helles that I think you got to have.
GL [00:13:31]: I’ve experienced this a little bit from brewing, but it’s the decoction. Really, that’s what it is. A lot of folks swear by no Munich. I’ve had […] great ones. In fact, the Helles we used to make had just a pinch of Munich in it, but there are a lot of folks that just swear that you don’t need it too.
JP [00:13:48]: I believe it. I’m brewing on a Mash & Boil that gets 60% efficiency, so I’ve got to add a little bit.
GL [00:13:54]: Speaking of the Mash & Boil, do you want to go around the horn real quick, and everybody can talk about what rigs were brewing on?
TT [00:14:02]: Yeah, Mendrick, he fired away his three different setups. Plise, yeah. What about Chalmers, what about you?
MC [00:14:08]: I got the Brewer’s Edge Mash & Boil like everybody. I also got a 15 gallon kind of homemade out of the classic Coleman cooler that’s a 30 gallon with a 210 BTU Burner. It gets the job done.
TT [00:14:22]: There you go. What about you, Adam? I’ve seen pictures of yours that you post on the weekend, and your stuff looks great.
AH [00:14:29]: Yeah. At my brother’s house, we have this kind of half-barrel system where it’s 3 25 gallon pots that we have set up in a three-tier system, so it’s going down each level that way. But when COVID hit, I wasn’t able to go over to his house much, so I had to pull out the old 10-gallon boil pots, the 10-gallon Igloo cooler, and then another boil pot for the water and stuff. That worked out great for a while and was working perfectly while I was at home.
TT [00:14:54]: Yeah, awesome, Grant?
GL [00:14:56]: Everybody has multiple systems. I’m just low down and dirty. I’ve got the Mash & Boil. I’ve used it a few times. It’s fine, it’s great. I find myself just going back to keggle. Just a straight-up Sankey keg that over a decade ago, I cut the top out with an angle grinder, then cleaned it up, and welded on a valve at the bottom with a pickup tube. I’m just using a big Igloo cooler and that for most of the time doing 5-, 10-gallon batches out of there.
TT [00:15:25]: You’re also taking a step down from what size system were you brewing from before?
GL [00:15:30]: If we’re making […] you knock out like 140 barrels a batch.
TT [00:15:35]: Yeah, I see. Big difference.
AH [00:15:39]: In the garage?
TT [00:15:41]: Yeah, in his garage.
MC [00:15:43]: You can see his house; it’s huge.
GL [00:15:45]: The sweetest garage ever. For me, I guess the only fancy piece of equipment that I use that I love is basically like a knockoff—Blichmann’s got the ChillWizard. The little plate chiller on a skid. I pretty much just made one of those my own with a cheap plate chiller and a little march pump. That way, I can have my own heat exchanger for knocking out because the freaking groundwater here is in the 80s, 90s. You’re never going to chill it down to where you need to be, even for an ale, so I had to get creative.
JM [00:16:16]: When I used to brew in Florida before I moved out here to Washington, I used to have two chillers. I had a chiller for my water, which would go to my chiller. That’s […] run to around 80 degrees.
GL [00:16:28]: Exactly. It’s like a chiller for my chiller. I use an ice chest, two 20-pound bags of ice, and then that’s recirculating through the plate chiller. It’s like my cold liquor tank, if you will, and then another thing to slowly knock out. It works great. I can single pass and get down to like the 60s that way.
TT [00:16:49]: A couple of people mentioned, well, Matt mentioned the CMC red wheat. A couple of people mentioned the best Heidelberg, but are there any other ingredients you guys are stoked about? Anything on the horizon? Anything that’s new in our portfolio or just anything in the brewing scene in general that you guys are just completely stoked about at this point? Let’s start with Mendrick.
JM [00:17:09]: Man, that’s tough. I got to say, I’m a pretty simple brewer, and I’ve stuck to my methods. I’m just a hardcore Pilsner, German lager, Northwest IPA guy. There is tons of new stuff coming out, so I’m going to pass the buck because I’m an older fella, and I stick to my ways. I’m going to let the new and more experimental brewers go for it. So, passing the buck on that one.
TT [00:17:30]: All right, Matt?
MC [00:17:31]: I brew a pretty good Pilsner, but I’ve been using the Heidelberg for it. But I am really desperately trying to find a bag of that Czech Pilsen that we have. I just can’t get it around here. If I can get Brewery International to pick up a few, I’ll be trying that one. The other one that I really enjoy using for some of the English styles is the pearl barley wine, wheat wine, that I’ve made with the Banga with the […]. It’s just stellar, and come fall time I’ll be banging those out again too.
TT [00:17:56]: The Czech Pils is what you’re referring to, right?
MC [00:18:01]: Yeah, exactly. Ethan got his hands on a bag right by the warehouse in Toronto, so he’s bragging about it.
GL [00:18:09]: I think it’s definitely one that outside a few warehouses most people don’t know about. It’s pretty new out in the West, definitely one that I think pro brewers are sleeping on. It’s just delicious, Czech Pils malt.
MC [00:18:23]: I’ve had a couple of brews from some commercial guys that have used it, and they’ve turned out really well.
GL [00:18:28]: Oh, yeah, and you said Pearl. Were you talking about the Pearl Malted Thomas Fawcett?
MC [00:18:33]: Yeah, the Fawcett, exactly. I’ll brew up a barley wine, wheat wine, or even some stouts come fall to get me through the wintertime or whatnot. It’s just been a real banger base malt for those.
GL [00:18:45]: Any reason you pick Pearl over Halcyon. I guess it used to be Optic, but now it’s blended. It’s called Spring ale. Any reason why you picked Pearl?
MC [00:18:54]: We don’t get the availability up here that you guys get down below the border. I’ve used a number of different products—Golden Promise, Maris Otter. For me, the results, the taste, the smoothness of the Pearl have been what’s worked best for me with those styles, at least with my palate anyway.
GL [00:19:14]: It seems like that’s one of those malts up in the Northeast of the US, and I guess across the border into Montreal is just the malt of choice. I see a lot for Hazies, even with the smaller breweries in Vermont.
MC [00:19:27]: I think the Alchemist uses the Pearl malt as their base malt for the most part.
GL [00:19:31]: Oh, nice. Okay.
TT [00:19:32]: Adam, what about you? Anything you’re stoked to try?
AH [00:19:35]: Here’s something to know is that my wife likes beer also, so I always have to make a beer for her, make a beer for me, so it’s always a going process. One of the malts I really like right now is because my wife likes malt. The Bairds 2.0, the Sassy, Irish red with it, and a brown ale with it, and they both come out really nice in the mouthfeel. And the clean and crispness of it makes my wife happy, so I’ve been just loving doing that for her too as well.
TT [00:20:02]: I’m glad you mentioned that too. We had Eddie Douglas from Bairds probably six, seven months ago, I would say. There is an episode, so if you’re listening and you want to hear a little bit more about this varietal from the UK called Sassy, which is named here in the US Malt 2.0. It is fairly new to North Americans, and you’re right; I think brewers are really gravitating to it. It’s great. Grant, what about you, man?
GL [00:20:25]: Adam beat me to the punch on this one. I was going to bring up the Sassy as well. I think I might use my privileges as a country malt person to take a 55-pound sack of it with me and get to brewing with it. It’s just awesome.
From everything that I’ve seen in the samples, looking at the CoAs, it’s kind of amazing. When you look at it, and you’re like, hold on, the protein is how low? I didn’t even know that that was possible. It’s just rocket fuel in terms of extract and the perfect climate there. I’d be pretty stoked to get a bag of the Sassy from Bairds. But the house malt that I work with a lot of is Pure Idaho from Great Western. I just keep coming back to that one.
TT [00:21:04]: Absolutely.
GL [00:21:05]: Adam, how would you guys compare that Sassy to a Maris Otter or a Pearl? Anything coming out of the UK?
AH [00:21:11]: It’s fairly similar, but I feel like there’s a more crispness to—like I was trying to say, it was just a cleaner taste that came out of the Sassy, I feel. It kind of balanced out the mouthfeel a lot. I think with Maris Otter; it’s a fuller mouthfeel, I feel.
GL [00:21:25]: Or earthier.
AH [00:21:26]: Yeah, and it just seems to be more balanced around it, I feel with the Sassy. I’m really enjoying it. The efficiency, too, is great for me with that one. With my numbers and stuff, I was hitting 85% to 90% efficiency when I’m using it, which is just great.
GL [00:21:40]: From the brewer’s scale, it’s amazing.
TT [00:21:43]: From a farmer’s standpoint, too, the yield is so much better as far as in the ground and in the dirt. There is some incentive for farmers to do that. If you put them side by side, if you were to compare some varietals like a Maris Otter versus a Sassy just by looking at the Sassy, it’s so much plumper. All good stuff.
Because we get a lot of interesting backgrounds in our organization, a lot of them specifically in the brewing, but for each of you, what’s the one thing you know now that you wish you knew when you started this job? I’ll start with Plise. Anything you’ve learned, Jonathan, over your years here that you didn’t before you started.
JP [00:22:20]: I would put a lot of stock into where barley is sourced from, especially when it comes down to malt flavor. There’s something to be said about why these breweries don’t switch from important malt for a certain lager, an English IPA, a porter, or whatever. There’s so much to be said about where barley is grown, the terroir.
As much as I love Great Western Pure Idaho, I still don’t think you can make a true German lager with it, and you have to use German malts to have that German flavor. I think you can make a great American domestic lager with Pure Idaho from Great Western. You can make a standard American lager because it’s North American barley. There’s something to be said about where barley’s grown.
TT [00:23:03]: What about you, Grant?
GL [00:23:05]: I’d kind of echo that. The thing that I have really learned is about malthouse terroir and just really malt house design. I came into this knowing just a thing or two about brewing, but it really opened my eyes to malthouse design and all that; it just follows brewing.
There are different vessels, there are different setups and ways of thinking about it, and you end up with different malts. Malt’s not just a commodity item; it’s alive. That’s always been really cool to me.
TT [00:23:33]: Yeah, and Mendrick, you’ve been around the brewing industry for quite some time, and actually, I believe you owned a homebrew shop. What would you say would be your answer here coming into this job? From a homebrew standpoint, what do you think homebrewers don’t know about the overall picture when you get into this job?
JM [00:23:52]: Yeah, I did own a homebrew shop in Washington, Mountain Homebrew, for 18 years. Over that time, I had the luxury of bringing in a lot of different malts, trying a bunch of different ingredients. I thought I knew malt, I thought I knew hops, and I definitely knew sales and business. But the one thing I really didn’t know or wasn’t in touch with was where these ingredients are grown, where they come from, how they’re processed, just the science and the people behind it.
Now I’m out there, and I get to tour the fields, tour the malt facilities, and I just talk to the farmers. I just have such a greater appreciation for what really goes into malt. Starting from the natural resources of the land, the weather, to the sweat and labor of the farmer, to the sweat and labor of the maltsters. I’ve grown to have such a great appreciation for what actually all that goes into these ingredients that I had been buying for so long.
I knew malt, I knew money, I knew how to run a business, but I didn’t know anything that went into it until I really got this job, got out there, and discovered it all. For that, I’m super appreciative.
TT [00:24:58]: That’s a great point. I don’t think a lot of people realize, especially the homebrew side, going to the local homebrew shop or something online. They don’t know what it takes and what happens behind the scenes to get that bag into their hands to brew it. Let’s move on here to another question. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since home brewing, Matt?
MH [00:25:16]: I have to think about that one.
TT [00:25:18]: Let’s go to Adam.
AH [00:25:20]: For me, more doesn’t mean better. You don’t have to add a ton of hops to get a lot of flavors, is what I’m thinking, or add seven or eight different malts to get a different flavor. Less can be just as good as normal.
TT [00:25:35]: Yeah, I’m with you. I’m with you. I like tinkering around a lot. I cook a lot at home, and my wife gets upset because I keep changing the recipe over and over. I keep adding it. At some point, you just add too many ingredients, and it just tastes like crap. Plise, what about you?
JP [00:25:48]: Fifteen years ago, I was brewing pretty hardcore. I was totally anti-dry yeast. I was all “liquid yeast is the living entity.” It’s real; I could taste it. Dry yeast quality then wasn’t that great. It was good, but it wasn’t great. Ironically, wine yeast is always dry yeast. It’s been around in trades forever. These days, all I use is dry yeast.
From Fermentis, a big fan of 3470. I’m a really big fan of the S-189 strain. I would like to see more lager yeast come out of them. Now I brew with just dry yeast. I don’t stir. I don’t believe in yeast starters anymore, and I don’t believe in oxygenation anymore. If you would have told me that 15 years ago, I would be like, you’re an idiot.
After learning what Fermentis has to offer, how they sell their product, and what’s behind that product is just like, there’s a reason why you pour it on top, you let it have access to natural oxygen, and let itself hydrate. There’s a whole science behind dry yeast that I think brewers should look into.
GL [00:26:44]: It’s funny how that works. I remember that from brewing dry yeast. It was just looked at as just totally subpar, and it would give you a gross beer, but gosh, that technology you were saying has really come along. I think some people still haven’t caught on to that. A few of them haven’t caught on to that. The dry yeast of today is not what it used to be. It’s so much better.
JP [00:27:06]: I’m using 3470, and I can have a Helles done and on tap carbon in eight days.
MC [00:27:16]: That’s really fast.
JP [00:27:17]: No diacetyl, nothing. S-23, too sulphurate. I’m not a fan of it.
GL [00:27:26]: With that, if you’re doing the 3470 and you’re turning around that quick, you’re just fermenting it in the 60s?
JP [00:27:33]: I ferment it at the recommended temperature, 54–58 Fahrenheit. Fifty-four to 56 sit right on the bag, then it’s 54–56 7 days, and then I’ll have 10 mils of Biofine, 5 gallons. I crash it at about 45. Next day I will […] filter using a 5, 7 microns right into the keg inline CO2, boom, and I’m drinking Helles that night.
GL [00:27:56]: Man, you’ve got quite a filtration setup to pull that off. Okay.
JP [00:28:00]: I’ll send you a pic.
TT [00:28:01]: You know, Plise, instead of Biofine, we use Nalco 1072.
GL [00:28:05]: That’s right.
JP [00:28:06]: I think you use less in Nalco. It’s even more concentrated.
TT [00:28:13]: Grant, this is a question for you because you’ve been on the very large classic commercial, commercial craft, and obviously have quite a bit of experience at home brewing and otherwise. What’s the best brewing advice that you’ve ever been given or received?
GL [00:28:28]: The biggest thing that changed stuff for me was having the ability to chill and knock out at a good temperature. I think that was the main one, but really these days, like the kveik yeast, I can’t believe that every homebrewer ever is not using kveik yeast because that stuff will just ferment in the 80s and give you a very nice—it can even be lager-like. It pains me a little bit to say that because it’s not quite there.
The most important thing is treating your yeast right, and in order to do that, you need to knock out a lot colder than folks can normally knock out with regular counterflow chillers and things like that here in the south.
TT [00:29:05]: Matt, going back up your way, what do you want to see more of? What style of beer do you miss, are you “homesick” for, et cetera? You said you couldn’t get your hands on some of the products we have here to brew some different styles of beers, but what do you miss? What do you wish you had a refrigerator full of right now?
MC [00:29:23]: In terms of finished products?
TT [00:29:25]: Sure, style.
MC [00:29:26]: Lambics and wild fermentations, alt styles, fruited sours barrels—you name it. That’s what really gets me going. Brett’s Lambics, that kind of thing. We can see more and more of those. I make a Brett Saison here that will keg probably twice a year. It turns out really well. It’s a Heidelberg wheat, and then I harvest the New World Saison from one of the breweries around here that makes one and throw that in for about three months or so, keg her up. It works out really well.
TT [00:29:56]: Gosh, that sounds good. It sounds wonderful.
GL [00:30:01]: I got to throw some respect on that Belgian answer. It’s something you don’t hear that often these days. It’s awesome. Especially making Lambics and things like that, that takes a lot of time and dedication. Really cool.
MC [00:30:12]: That one’s a Brett. It’s not really a spontaneous fermentation. It’s a Brett.
GL [00:30:17]: Going on 100% Brett?
MC [00:30:18]: No. The New World Saison is a blend. It’s a blend of Saison strain with some Brett. Now, with that, I’ll actually do a primary fermentation with it using the Lallemand Belle Saison, which I truly enjoy. Once that’s done, I’ll put it into its secondary fermentation, where I will add the New World Saison. I put those into those spring water bottles, the 19-liter spring water bottles that you get from the store. I just bring that back with all the bacteria and let them deal with it.
GL [00:30:52]: I want to try that strain. I haven’t got to use the Belle Saison yet, but from the ProBrewer site, everybody that tries it is always impressed at how well it works. There are not really many dry Saison strains out there. The Belle Saison really seems to be the best form.
MC [00:31:07]: If you want to do something just as a tip, and I got this from Ethan there working on throwing some Brett into that, really got to dial up the mash temp and leave something for the Brett to chew on because the Belle Saison will rip through it all.
GL [00:31:21]: Leave it with some larger chain sugars and stuff for it to chew on.
MC [00:31:26]: Yeah, exactly.
TT [00:31:27]: Mendrick, your time in the industry, you’ve probably seen a lot of different styles, a lot of crazy styles, a lot of homebrewers coming in and wanting you to try a bunch of different beers. What do you miss? What do you wish that you had more of and less of?
JM [00:31:40]: Honestly, my route started with British beers, ESBs, bitters. I love bitters. I love that style. It’s really what got me into craft beer. […] for two months to tour England and Ireland. My now-wife, she didn’t know at the time, but I secretly was on a beer mission, not a vacation. I just went over there, I studied, and I drank as many bitters and ESBs as I could. I just sat in the pubs, and I’ve tried everything I could get my hands on.
These days, I don’t get any British beers out here. You never see these beer styles on tap. You really got to make them yourselves. I miss those. I think one day you’ll start to see a little bit of a comeback. Maybe Americanized versions, but I missed that stuff. I really do. I can drink them all day long, and it just reminds me of when I very first started enjoying craft beer. I’d say those styles.
I am happy to report that I am seeing some really delicious West Coast IPAs being produced out here again, crystal clear, beautifully hopped, not over the top, not overly bitter. There are a couple of slots on the tap boards that are dropping some Hazies for some more traditional West Coast IPAs again.
TT [00:32:57]: All of you guys, me not so much anymore, unfortunately, but you guys are talking to brewers, distillers every day. That’s what you do. You’re in constant communication with folks in the industry. I want to ask where we’re at in the industry. What is getting brewers excited right now? Is the Haze craze waning or waxing? Do you see brewers lean towards more lagers or rolling in a bunch of seltzers and ranch waters? What’s the fad? What’s here to say? I know it’s a lot to regurgitate there, but let me start with you, Grant.
GL [00:33:31]: I’d pose the question to you guys. Do you all see ranch water? Is that a thing? It’s really blowing up here in Texas.
TT [00:33:37]: Down in the south, it’s pretty big.
AH ​​[00:33:39]: That’s the first I’ve heard of it.
JM [00:33:43]: I was like, what is ranch water?
TT [00:33:45]: Really? It takes up a whole portion of shelves over here.
JP [00:33:49]: It sounds disgusting.
GL [00:33:51]: Originally, it started as a drink where you would take a Topo Chico, which is a Mexican brand of sparkling water. It’s fantastic. Drink a little bit of it, pour in a shot of tequila, then some lime juice, and just sip on that for the day. It got really big in Austin. With these craft seltzers that are working, people kind of doing like, oh, let’s do a craft seltzer, but it’ll be like ranch water style.
They’ll try to just play off those flavors like lime, maybe a little bit of agave nectar for sweetness even. From everything I can tell, the sales of that are just blowing up for craft guys that are making that flavor of seltzer. Maybe it’s just a Texas thing.
JP [00:34:35]: It’s a Texas thing.
TT [00:34:38]: It’ll make its way out there, I guarantee you.
GL [00:34:40]: It’s refreshing; try it.
TT [00:34:41]: Do you guys don’t have ranches out where you are? I know Mendrick does.
MC [00:34:44]: Nope.
JM [00:34:45]: Yeah. It’s […], they have no water.
TT [00:34:50]: What about you, Adam?
AH [00:34:52]: It’s kind of weird. I think the Hazies are still around. There’s a lot of small breweries that are liking them. What I’m also starting to see right now—one of the beers that I just made because of this—is the Vienna lager. I’m starting to see that one pop up again. I’m really starting to enjoy trying those at some of the breweries that I’m going to and seeing.
TT [00:35:09]: What about you, Plise?
JP [00:35:15]: I’m starting to see a lot of new breweries collect rainwater from their local municipality. They’re filtering it. They get the diapers out, a lot of the feces out, and then they’re making hard seltzer with it. They’re infusing it with their local broccoli or cauliflowers.
TT [00:35:34]: Oh, man. You know what, I have access to mute you on my end. I like to say, where is this going?
GL [00:35:41]: I would like to unhear. If I can unhear that, unhear those flavors.
TT [00:35:46]: Gosh.
JP [00:35:47]: I’m sorry.
TT [00:35:49]: I could guarantee you, somebody is trying something through a diaper.
JM [00:35:53]: […] filtration. It’s already built-in; it’s there.
AH [00:35:57]: What’s the micron of a diaper?
TT [00:35:59]: Let’s move on. Chalmers, what do you think is going on?
MC [00:36:02]: Up here, we still see the Haze. The Haze is the craze. We’re also getting a lot of the smoothie sours fruit. I mean real thick smoothie sours. We’ve also seen smoothie seltzers that have been moved quite well. Pastry stouts now, up here, we can’t push the limits of 11.9%. That’s the top that we can put into a beer commercially up here under a brewer’s license. But with that, these guys are making these pastry stouts at 11.9%, cramming the dates in there, Oreo cookies, and you name it. People are lining up a mile on launch day to pay $25 for one of these bottles. It’s pretty neat to see.
JM [00:36:39]: A lot of the brewers can’t get your fruit purees
MC [00:36:42]: Yeah, they’re all coming up here.
TT [00:36:44]: Hey, Matt, speaking of that, do you think there’s a bit of a delay in the overall craft movement and styles hitting Canada? Is Canada where the US was 10 years ago as far as the craft movement?
MC [00:36:56]: I would say so. Yeah, I think we’re behind. What happens below the border eventually comes up here, and then you guys are all chewing on your ranch water. We’ll see if that comes up here.
TT [00:37:07]: It will. What about you, Mendrick? What do you think the industry, brewer excitement is going? Are you finding that the Haze is still a craze? Where do you think it’s going? Lagers? You didn’t know what ranch water was.
JM [00:37:20]: Honestly, in my territory, you see more and more lagers. I see brewers (in secret) will tell you they absolutely can’t stand to brew as many Hazy. […] Hazies, and they want to try something new. A lot of the brewers today weren’t around. They weren’t brewing. They’re much younger, and they’re actually discovering some of the styles that are lost, like the ESBs, and (I hate to say) the ambers and the browns, and the simple lagers.
You see more and more lagers on tap in my territory. Ten years ago, if you saw a lager on tap in an alehouse—it was mostly ales—9 times out of 10 that was a really, really bad lager. You would not want to order that. I’m happy to report that the lagers I’m experiencing out here right now are just stellar. I think they’re enjoying brewing those. I’m seeing more of them.
TT [00:38:12]: That’s awesome. Let’s go around the horn real quick. Tell me what’s in your beer fridge. Jonathan, you’re drinking right now. It’s a Helles., but anything special you got stashed away in your fridge?
JP [00:38:22]: Helles is on tap with the Fermentis S-189 strain. I’m pretty happy with that, but I do have Altbier fermenting right now. I’m not doing high gravity boils to maximize my time and the poor efficiency of the Mash & Boil. I’m just adding water back, and I’m making 10 gallons at a time, so I could split yeast strains, kind of compared the two. Altbier is fermenting happily.
TT [00:38:44]: You probably also got the broccoli-infused diaper filtrated IPA, right?
JP [00:38:50]: Definitely. That’s in the works. My wife loves it.
JM [00:38:55]: Are you using Huggies or Costco brand?
JP [00:38:57]: Definitely go Kirkland. They know what they’re doing.
TT [00:39:01]: Grant, please get us back on track.
GL [00:39:03]: Lately, I tend to brew IPAs, but in terms of just day-to-day drinking, what’s in my beer fridge? It’s Pilsner. Maybe I didn’t make the point the best I could about the ranch water thing, but I think that’s the latest and greatest—I don’t want to say fad necessarily, but that’s the newest thing. I will echo sentiments that lager is back, and I hope it’s here to stay. Eight times out of 10, I’m crushing the Pils.
For me, it’s St. Arnold H-Town Pils right now is in my fridge and Equal Parts Löggerbier. That’s actually made with the Heidelberg. It’s delicious. I tend to bounce back and forth off those and then work other things into the mix.
TT [00:39:47]: Awesome. Adam.
AH [00:39:47]: I’ve got a mix of IPAs, just from a variety of breweries and stuff. Also, my wife’s got me into it, and I like these. I’m getting a bunch of sour beers. There’s the one that’s a Tiki Time sour, which is like a lemon and lime sour but really smooth and easy to drink.
TT [00:40:04]: Nice. Chalmers.
MC [00:40:06]: I get six taps; five currently don’t have anything on. All homebrew, there’s a Pils, Heidelberger, and a bit of Cara Pils. I didn’t put any Munich in; I know that wasn’t popular with some of you all. I got a barley wine right next to that. That one was about 12%, but then I got my hands on some of that HA-18 Fermentis yeast. Just put a little spoonful in there, rip right through, and dried it right out. It’s sitting at 13.5% right now and super dry.
It was really just an experiment to see what that thing would do. It’s everything as advertised. Next to that, I got a nice easy Kolsch, easy-drinking Kolsch. I got a Hazy and a dry hop Saison. And then, coming up to the commercial stuff, a bunch of these wild fermented Bretts and Lambics are sitting upstairs in the fridge.
TT [00:40:53]: Nice. Mendrick.
JM [00:40:54]: Yeah, nothing homebrew on tap. Unfortunately, it’s been a really, really hot summer here. We don’t have fermentation control until it drops down here in the next month or so. I do find myself picking up a lot of Pilsners IPAs. I did West Coast IPA […]. When we’re back on the road, my fridge is usually stocked with spoils of war. Customers are always super gracious. They load you up on beer, and they want you to try it and give some opinions.
Right now, from the last trip, I got a lot of beers from […] Trap Door and drinking their Vienna. Now they’re Austrian Powers Vienna, which is absolutely outstanding. Usually, on the commercial side, it’s wherever I’ve been last.
TT [00:41:34]: Very nice. This has been an awesome episode. For the listeners out there, if you want to just have a chat about home brewing, commercial brewing, you name it, we got a great group of folks, especially on the call here or the podcast here. They’re certainly open to chatting with anybody. It’s been a real pleasure having you all on.
I do want to finish the show by singing a special happy birthday to The BrewDeck podcast. I’ll get it started. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to The BrewDeck. Happy birthday to you.
Hey, gentlemen. It’s been fun. It’s been a great birthday episode. I really appreciate it. We got a wealth of knowledge here. I really look forward to seeing you all soon. It’s been a long, long, long time. I’m getting thirsty, so I’m going to go hit the beer fridge myself.
For the listeners out there, I hope you enjoyed it today. We will have several pretty cool episodes, and Grant can attest. We got some good stuff scheduled.
Certainly, take a like and program us in if you will on wherever you listen to your podcasts. Listen to what we have coming up. I appreciate it. Make it a fantastic week. I appreciate everybody on the listen, and we’ll chat soon. Thanks to The BrewDeck. Happy birthday.
GL [00:42:56]: Hey, Thanks, everyone.
JP [00:42:56]: Happy birthday. Thanks, everyone. Happy birthday.