Still hot on the campaign trail for this years Sierra Nevada Beer Camp with his The best beer in the world entry (voting still open until 10/15 so keep voting daily!) Allen took a few minutes to sit down and have a slightly longer than Twitter’s 140 character limit discussion.
Known by folks on Twitter and Google+ as L_AllenH. He is an active Military Paramedic, and home brewer stationed out of Fort Bragg NC. From when I started becoming involved the craft beer world on twitter, he was one of the first friendly faces I met. So when the opportunity came up to give a spotlight to a Home brewer and Beer Camp front-runner, it was an easy choice for Bier Battered’s first interview.
This interview was done via email and twitter over the past few days
Battered: What do you have fermenting currently?
Allen: Right now I have Delphine which is a Flanders Red, Santa Berry, which is my cranberry sage brown/Winter warmer, and a coffee vanilla porter. A keg that is about to kick is clusterfuk which is a DIPA with 18 oz of hops in a 5 gallon batch and then a few things in the world that I need to decide on.
Battered: When did you get into craft beer & what made you take the jump into home brewing?
Allen: My story getting into craft beer and home brewing may be a little backward compared to most. I used to be a big St. Pauli Girl and PBR drinker when I was partying back in college. One day I went over to my buddies house and he had some whiskey that he may or may not have made. I wanted to make something but due to legality,
I stuck with beer. I saw a Mr Beer kit at the Fred Meyer I worked at and picked it up. I “brewed” it and had a lot of fun. I picked up some variety packs of craft to try while I waited for it to ferment and had my first taste of craft beer. Before this I had a fat tire or two and some beers from the brewery in my college town, but they were just randomly at people’s houses or at Wing Central.
I was a hard alcohol guy. Long Islands, Mojitos, Gimlets, Mai Tais, etc. I found some I liked and find I hated (IPA’s were the hate), and once my Pale Ale was done, I tasted it and thought it was the worst beer I have ever had. I had a lot of fun making it though and now that I actually had a taste of beer I wanted to try more.
I threw away my Mr Beer kit and bought All Grain equipment/built it myself and bought two kits from Northern Brewer. One milled, one un-milled so I could see the difference…. I had no idea what I was doing lol. I read How To Brew and got started. I probably brewed six 5 gallon batches that first month… Let’s just say the first few were, while drinkable, far under par. I dumped the second batch. So, I got into home brewing before beer which, sounds a little odd, but true.
Battered: Very cool that you started home brewing first. It might be the first time I have heard it go that way. Also, I have to agree with you on the IPA’s I still have a love hate thing with them. I love the Piney smelling ones, but I need the malts balance. I can care less about the IBU’s but the malt has to be there. 🙂
Allen: There are a ton of IPA’s I like now, but more so there are a ton I don’t like still. Everyone is making an IPA, but they don’t need to. I know they all think their beer is good and yada-yada, but so much bad beer is being produced by people who just have the money to start a brewery. It’s B.S., but people keep buying it, so obviously they have a better business plan than I do…
Battered: Speaking of the Best Beer in the World. What do you think you would want to make if given the chance at Beer Camp? Is there anything you would want to try but don’t have the space / resources /etc to pull off at home?
Allen: I really don’t know what I would make at Beer Camp at this point. I don’t remember who said it, but to me Beer Camp is like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, and I was kind of disappointed with this last box that was released. I mean, the beers in them were great but they were all IPAs.
Last years was alright, but I always think back to the first one. My favorite beer there was the Weizenbock. Everything about it was fantastic. The other beers in the box were out there as well, and not in the crazy way that you see some breweries releasing beer today. I want to do something like that, but I just don’t know what. So much to think about, but I just have to get through the competition first.
Battered: I completely agree with that assessment of this years Beer Camp 12 pack. I have hope though, that next years Beer Camp Cross Country pack (featuring collaborations between SN and 12 breweries including the likes of Russian River, New Glarus, Cigar City, & 3 Floyds) will be more wild ale / other quirky things than 12 diff IPAs.
Battered: What do you think the next big wave will be? I’d love it to be sours [though I know they will never be huge], but really think it will be barrel aged everything.
Allen: I don’t think it will be sours… would be nice though. There have been more popping up though. The Gose style has grown a lot. [ed note If you can find Westbrook’s Gose, I have never heard a bad thing about it]
Like you mentioned Barrel Aging stuff is pretty big right now. Jolly Pumpkin ages everything, some are aging IPAs, Berliners, etc…
Next fad… I don’t know. I don’t see the IPA dying anytime soon. People that walk into a bar that don’t know anything about beer always say give me your IPA. Now everyone wants “session” IPAs etc. Though, they don’t really know what session is… that’s a whole different discussion.
I’m trying to think of what trends I’m seeing but hmm… we will see I guess. I wish people would focus on making solid beers in a single style… but who wants to buy a plain porter or brown ale? 12%+ or 127 IBU’s is the key.