Thursday, August 8, 2013

Meet the Homebruer: Cesar Alfaro

On the cusp of releasing Batch 1000 BRYEIAN, we are profiling some of our homebruers on our staff! Many of our team members developed their love for The Bruery via homebrew clubs, and today those clubs and their members are still very important to us. That's a big reason why we host our Batch series competition for milestone brews.

One of our homebruers made his first batch in 2008, and today he works in our packaging department, carefully bottling and lovingly boxing bottles of beer to be sent out for your enjoyment. His name is Cesar, and he has excellent hair.

What sparked your interest in homebrewing?

I was going to culinary school at Art institute in Orange County and some Stone Brewing Co. reps came into one of my classes to talk about beer. That got me interested in craft beer.

Later down the road I realized that brewing beer was just like cooking a meal: take raw ingredients and a little creativity and you can make anything you like! I was hooked.

What's in your carboy right now?
Right now in my carboy I have my honey cream ale. I recently had an apple cider, a sour brown, and a molasses stout.

Have you had a homebrew nightmare disaster?
Most of my disasters are negligence on my part. One that sticks with me was my third batch of beer. By that time, I thought I was pretty awesome at making beer and felt nothing could go wrong.

I was chilling my wort and it wasn't cooling fast enough but my roommates were leaving to the movies and I wanted to join, so I just let it hang out until the morning and then pitched the yeast. Needless to say, it came out pretty gross.

Another time I had too much sugar in my carboy for my yeast to feed on. The fermentation went crazy and my blowoff hose got clogged. The bung exploded off painting my ceiling with Mexican chocolate stout.

Do you have a, "Whoa, it was super cool this one time this thing happened," homebrew moment you can share?
I normally brew with my girlfriend. She's the creativity side and I'm the logistics guy. We decided to make a chai milk stout we found in a homebrew magazine, so we made our own chai spice and extract.

When making the beer we added waaaaaay too much chocolate and roast than needed. The beer came out thick as syrup and super bitter. We didn't care for it. I forgot about it in my garage and came back to it almost nine months later. The stout had transformed in to this luscious, creamy, awesome beer! We brewed this back in 2010 and still have 3 bottles.

The very first all grain batch I ever made was a honey cream ale -- the best beer I made to date. I entered it into The Bruery's batch 300 competition and it got high scores! Still haven't been able to make it the same though. :(

What would you tell a new homebrewer looking for advice?
Take notes! Take lots of notes! When you make that awesome beer and don't have a clue how to replicate it, you'll be sorry. And sad.

I take notes like a diary. The weather, the time, different factors, when I went to walk the dog, ingredients, boil overs, anything that might alter the taste of your beer. You can then look back and avoid past mistakes or repeat awesome ones.

Also fermentation temperature is key! Before you switch to all grain brewing, or throw different odds and ends into your beer, buy an awesome new brewing system. You must have a way to control fermentation temperature! It will make or break your beer.

Don't have money for a giant fridge? Neither do I. A friend of mine had a great idea which I now use. Get a cooler large enough to house your carboy when stood upright. Freeze lots of plastic bottles and rotate them with new ones every night/morning. With this method, I've chilled as far as 40 degrees when the weather outside is near 90!

So maybe next time you open a Bruery bottle, you'll raise at least one of your glasses to Cesar, because he probably helped get that beer on it's way to you in between his homebrue sessions.
Read about the rest of our homebrewers on The Bruery staff in our Meet the Homebruer series:

No comments: