May Customer of the Month

Mark Kolenbrander

·  How long have you been homebrewing/winemaking?

Seriously brewing for about 17 years, started in 2005 when I decided to take it on myself, but I have to thank my good friend Steve Rhoden who went on this journey with me.  You may recognize him as a regular at #TheBrewHut also! 

I Dabbled a little over my younger years by helping friends brew occasionally.  Started as most homebrewers do with extract kits and simple pots and buckets for fermenting.  Just slowly added more equipment as I learned more and more.  Was pretty lazy about it for a long time and had trouble with sanitation and infections occasionally.  It was time to either get really serious or let it go.

·  What are your favorite styles to make? 

I would say my favorite style is probably Saison.  Imperial Stout and IPA’s are strong contenders though.  Been dabbling in Barrel aging beers as well.  Saison just has that uniqueness that you have a hard time finding done well locally.  Fun to share with friends too as they have often not even heard of the style.

·  Are you a member of any brew clubs or organizations?

Not a member of any homebrew clubs other than AHA,  but I do watch a lot of podcasts and read a lot of brewing books.  Like Experimental brewing with Denny and Drew.  Brew Strong with Jamil and John. To name a couple of podcasts I enjoy.  I have a few commercial brewer friends that I converse with over recipes and processes.

·  Have you won any medals or awards?

Have never entered a homebrew contest, but have had a few of my beers tasted by some bjcp beer judges.  And were well received.

·  Describe your brewing system or equipment (Provide a picture if possible)

I have several brewing systems currently.  My original masterpiece is a propane 3 vessel brewing structure that I welded together myself. And sourced all the HLT/Mash Tun/brew kettles used from craigslist and the like.  Was able to get ports welded in as needed.  It is a great system and I still use it occasionally.  It has a brewing capacity of 15 gallons and works quite well. 

I decided a few years ago to remodel my basement into a brew kitchen and go electric.  I purchased an Anvil foundry 10.5 and have really enjoyed it.  Brews great beer and is easy to clean and maintain due to its simplicity.  I did eliminate the malt pipe and purchased a false bottom and a nylon brew bag, which I like a lot better.  Getting way better efficiency than I ever did with the malt pipe.  And my latest brew system is the Spike Solo 20 gallon.  Which I have customized heavily.  Using a different pump and brewery controller than the stock one it normally comes with.  The 30 amp Blichmann Brewcommander and the Blichmann Riptide pump. I’m using BrewFather as my brewing software.  It is a great software that has enough complexity to brew great beer and still be easy to use.  I also love the community that surrounds the app, sharing of recipes, and constantly being updated with all the latest gear/ingredients/processes.  And that I can access all my history and recipes and completed and active batches from all my devices.  Phone/computer/laptop/ipad etc.  Great software.

 

     

·  What piece of equipment or brewing process has made the most difference in your beer and/or wine?

If I had to choose one thing I would say has made the most difference for beer quality over the years has been temperature control over the fermentation process.  Stainless steel fermenters and/or pressure fermentation are a close second.

·  What other fermented beverages have you made?

Dabbling in Mead making right now as well.  Also have made kombucha a few times.

·   List any other hobbies or interests. 

That list is far and wide.  I love fly fishing and fly tying. Backpacking is another passion of mine and go several times each year with family and friends.  Also have a woodshop and a metal shop.  I play a lot of squash to stay fit and healthy.  I ride motorcycles and road bikes and have learned how to ride my FutureMotion OneWheel as well.

         

·  Is there anything else that you would like to share about yourself?

Any day now any of us could become fungus food.  Keep your friends close and love them.  Enjoy life and live it.  Don’t let anything stop you from following your passions.