Interview with a Home Beer Brewer
I have heard about people brewing their own beer (or ale or are they the same thing?) at home before, but I never realized how many people actually do it, how popular it is or even the fact that there are local contests for home brewers! I had a chance to sit down with Joe Domm, an automotive technician by day, but home brewer by night, to get a little insight into the world of home brewing. Joe has been home-brewing since 2011 and is a member of Carolina Brewmasters in Charlotte.
Why did you start home-brewing?
I started home-brewing when I started drinking better beer and got interested in how it was made. Once I started, I found I was fascinated by the process and science of brewing. Some people get discouraged by a not so great first batch, but I started a quest to brew better beer.
Where do you brew and ferment? Does your home-brewing enterprise have a name?
I brew in the garage and for fermenting, I have a 4cu ft fridge in the laundry room with a temp controller and a chest freezer with a temp controller in the garage. I call it Domm Brauhaus and Garage because that is simply what it is.
What are your favorite styles to brew?
I like to brew everything! From Kolsches to porters to Big hoppy Red ales.
Do you keg, or are you still bottling?
Keg, then bottle off the kegs for sharing and/or aging.
What names have you given your beers?
I haven’t named many beers, but I recently brewed an Imperial red ale I called The Hop Locker due to the fact that I was using a ton of hops and pretty much cleaning out the freezer (The Hop Locker) of open hop bags. I also made a Belgian Golden Strong I called Dommnation as a play on Russian River’s Damnation (a top beer of that style).
Any bad batches?
The first few were not great, but drinkable. I do think there were some bottle bombs in one of those batches. I started with a Mr. Beer kit my wife got me but one of the main issues is that it sat in the garage for several months before I got around to trying it. I’m sure they would have been better if the ingredients were fresh and an adequate amount of healthy yeast was pitched. I still have batches that I am not thrilled with but most of my friends say I am too critical.
How do you get your beer in bars? What bars/restaurants has your beer been in?
You will have to find a brewery to brew it due to taxes and licensing. Win a competition or know the brewers. The beer we brewed at Olde Mecklenburg was in the Brauhaus there and bars across Charlotte. It was a onetime release so it’s not available anymore.
What are your brewing plans for next year?
Be a better brewer, upgrade equipment and nail down a consistent process. Just brewed my first lager and plan on more next year.
Do you plan on entering any competitions?
I entered 4 competitions this year and plan on more next year.
Any awards from past competitions?
This was my first year of competing, so far I have won 4 ribbons with 3 beers. 1st place for Kolsch in the Charlotte US open, which also won the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery’s Rein Stein competition. 2nd place for American barleywine and 2nd place for Belgian Golden Strong in the Skirmish at the triad competition in Greensboro, NC.
Just recently in December, I won 3 more ribbons: 1st for a Kolsch, 1st for a Belgian Blonde and 2nd for an American Barleywine. I also won the Rookie of the Year award from the Carolina Brewmasters.
Any advice you’d like to give other home-brewers?
Join the American Homebrewers Association. Get active in a local club and learn as much as possible. Brew as much as possible and learn from your mistakes. You have to be open to criticism and strive to be better. Brew days won’t always be smooth sailing. A storm may pop up but as long as you know how to “right the ship” and steer through it everything will work out.
Answer this: When I’m not home-brewing, I cook a mean….?
BBQ on the smoker.