Meet a Green Bay Racker: Paul Chambers

1: Introducing: Paul Chambers

2. When did you join the Rackers and what got you started? 
I started brewing beer (not very good stuff) in the mid 1990’s in
Southern Indiana where the ingredients were hard to find and
info on how to brew was also scarce. I joined the Rackers in
2005 and got interested in the wine end of things, especially
when I saw how closely it related to the beer brewing process.

3. What do you brew (beer, wine, cider, etc.) and how is it
packaged and served? 
I brew beer mostly from extract, but my
wines are either right from the fruit to must or from kits. I have
also found an interest in distilling (strictly for essential oils &
water though…). The beer is kegged and put on one of 7
different taps I have set up. One tap is reserved for Sprecher
Root Beer for my wife. (I find it a valuable trade off.) Wine is
bottled in 750 ml bottles & corked. Along with wine I also
dabble in cider and mead.

4. How long have you been brewing and describe your brewing
system? 
As I mentioned earlier, my brewing interests dates back
almost 30 years. My beer brewing is stove top on natural gas
while other heating methods a include stand alone Turbo 500
and an induction element. I also presently house the club’s Anvil
240 volt system.

5. Where do you brew? 
I have a third stall area in my garage
that is about 400 square feet. It is climate controlled, has full
commercial 4-bay sink, gas stove top and refrigeration. There is
also 240 volt available and flat screen TV.

6. How often do you brew; is there a certain schedule you have
or is it by season? 
I tend to brew more in the fall & winter but
lately have been doing more because of my new interest in all
grain processing for distillation. Availability of fresh apples &
pears makes fall ideal for ciders. Wine can be made ant time
especially when using kits.

7. What aspects of your hobby would you like to improve
upon? 
I’m working on my recipe development for distilling and
am finding new things all the time. Sometimes you don’t know
what you don’t know…

8. What advice would you pass on to others considering this
hobby: 
The biggest thing I preach besides sanitation is patience.
Understand that some things need to be done right now, but a lot
of the brewing process needs time to develop the right
conditions for maturation of wort, must or wash. Take your time
and take notes to learn from your experiences.

9. What have I forgotten to ask, is there something else you’d
like to share? 
Don’t be afraid to ask questions of fellow brewers.
The Rackers is a great forum to exchange information, share
products and ask “how did you…” or “what kind of…” and
“where did you…”. There is no such thing as a dumb question,
just dumb answers! Enjoy yourself!

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Meet a Green Bay Racker: Bryan Halverson

1: Introducing: Bryan Halverson

2. When did you join the Rackers and what got you started?

If memory serves me correctly, I joined the Rackers in the summer of 2008.  I showed up to the summer picnic/party and instantly had a new group of friends.  I was looking for others who home brewed, and to expand my knowledge.  I found both.

3. What do you brew (beer, wine, cider, etc.) and how is it packaged and served?

I mainly brew beer, both ales and lagers, but mainly ales as I have yet to dedicate a space for lagering.  So lagers get done in the winter, fermented in my basement which holds a pretty good 50F.   I have dabbled in wines, ciders and meads but have found I lack the patience for wine and mead.  I used to bottle and bottle condition, but since I went all grain I keg and force carbonate.  I will bottle off the tap whenever I need or want some beer bottled.

4. How long have you been brewing and describe your brewing system?

I have been brewing for about 22 years.  The first couple years I was all extract brewing on my stove top.  I moved to all grain brewing in January 2010 using an Igloo Icecube cooler with a copper manifold as my mashtun, using the batch sparging method.  My boil pot was a converted half barrel that I added a ball valve to.  Shortly after moving to all grain I started kegging my beers and force carbonating.  Which then led to building a kegerator that I still use today.  Since Sept 2023 I have moved on to a Brew In A Bag system, the Clawhammer 120v system.  I do like this system for its modular design but am still working on getting better efficiency.    Fermentation wise, started with plastic buckets.  Moved onto glass and plastic carboys.  I now mainly use a 7g Brew Bucket from SS Brewtech.  I use a Johnson Controls temp controller with a ferm-a-wrap for temp control.

5. Where do you brew?

Mainly in my garage and kitchen.  I have plans to designate a spot in my basement for the BIAB system I’ve recently been using.

6. How often do you brew; is there a certain schedule you have or is it by season?

Not enough!!  The past few years has been about once a month.  Since I don’t have a designated space for lagering all year I do brew my lagers in the winter as my basement works as my lagering cellar.

I’ve never been one to brew specific styles based on the seasons.  I brew whatever I in the mood for when the opportunity arises.

7. What aspects of your hobby would you like to improve upon?

Eventually I’d like to invest in my fermentation game.  Conical, O2 free transfer,  pressure fermentation, ect.  I think I make pretty good beer without it so it’s not exactly something that will happen in the near future.

8. What advice would you pass on to others considering this hobby:

  • 1. Clean your equipment after every use, sanitation is key
  • 2. Full wort boils make a difference
  • 3. Temp control on your fermentation makes a HUGE difference
  • 4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  Books are great…experience is greater.
  • 5. Like any hobby you can spend as much time and money on it as you desire…  Go at your own pace and make changes and improvements when you’re ready.
  • 6. The homebrewing community is very welcoming, don’t hesitate to join your local homebrew club.

9. What have I forgotten to ask, is there something else you’d like to share?

If you have dogs spent grains can be made into some wonderful dog treats…your pups will thank you!

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The 2024 Green Bay Rackers Wine/Cider/Mead Contest

Congratz!

Paul Chambers take the Wine top spot and Steve Stary takes the Cider/Meads!

Look here for the category winners!

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Meet a Green Bay Racker: Jay Brown

Meet a Green Bay Racker

1: Introducing: Jay Brown

  1. When did you join the Rackers and what got you started? I joined after going to Title Town after they opened in 1996. I was always curious about brewing. When I had my first micro brew, it was the Honey ale, I thought it was the best beer I ever tasted. I drove right across the bridge and went to Life Tools and bought my first brewing equipment and kit beer and that was the start of my brewing.
  2. What do you brew (beer, wine, cider, etc.) and how is it packaged and served? I brew all grain beer and make wine from kits. I asked about any brew clubs in the area at Life Tools. The next thing I knew I was a member of the Green Bay Rackers. It ended up being a great fit for my new hobby.
  3. How long have you been brewing and describe your brewing system?  I started brewing in 1996 from kit beers and within a year I started all grain brewing. I used picnic coolers for a mash tun and a 10 gallon stainless kettle for a boil kettle. I always used glass carboys. I bought a 10 gallon S.S. conical fermenter  but only used it several times. I just found glass easier to use. Now I have a rims with 3- 15 gallon spike kettles. 220 volt for mash water and natural gas for the boil. I use an oxygenator for my wort. I have an inkbird 16s controller for the pump and heater.
  1. Where do you brew? It’s set up in my basement.
  2. How often do you brew; is there a certain schedule you have or is it by season? I used to brew eight to ten 10 gallon batches a year. Now with some health issues I’m just getting back into brewing, we’ll see how it goes. I just brew when the weather cools down, usually starting in September or October until spring.
  3. What aspects of your hobby would you like to improve upon? All of it. Just make better beer.
  4. What advice would you pass on to others considering this hobby: When you start make sure you’re in a club where you can watch other people brew and learn from it. Ask a lot of questions.

9. What have I forgotten to ask, is there something else you’d like to share?

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