Meet a Green Bay Racker- Josh Jahnke

This edition of “Meet a Green Bay Racker” features.. Josh Jahnke!

Meet a Green Bay Racker

1: Introducing: Josh Jahnke (Rackers president, 2024) 

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

I’d been curious about brewing through most of my early 20’s and really got the itch in 2014. I picked up a starter equipment kit, kettle, and Belgian golden strong extract kit at the beloved and recently closed House of Homebrew. I was fortunate that it turned out decent which encouraged me to keep brewing. Made the jump to all grain by batch four, within a year. I found my way to the Rackers in 2016 and I’ve been an active member since.

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

Primarily beer, specifically a lot of European-style lagers (+kveik pseudo-lagers) and saisons. Most of my beer gets kegged. I have a four-tap keezer in my basement that usually holds 4-5 kegs. I like 3gal kegs for splitting/blending batches and I really love pulling out my 6L mini keg from the cooler to pour beers at mountain bike trailhead parking lots after a ride. 

I’ve dabbled in wine, mead, and cider and had decent results but I just don’t drink enough of them to warrant the effort of them unless I have a surplus of cider or honey.

I started out bottling for my first couple years but these days I usually only bottle condition things I specifically want to bottle condition and cellar longer, like saisons and mixed culture sours. For those I like to prime for high carbonation, so I’m very particular about the bottles that I use. And sometimes I’ll fill a few bottles from whatever I have on tap to bring to parties. I just bought HoH’s beer can sealer and am pretty excited to put it to work.

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

I started in my kitchen with an extract kit in a 5gal pot. I got through three batches before I picked up a couple coolers and a false bottom to take my first crack at all grain, and I’ve been primarily brewing with those same mash vessels ever since. I still sometimes just grab some dry malt extract and some crystal malt for steeping if I want to pump out a quick easy hoppy brew (I’m still working through bags of 2018 Cascade hops in my freezer).

  1. Where do you brew?

Usually in the family’s shared barn/shed behind my house, or on my deck if the barn is too busy during harvest season. I’m looking into setting up a hood system in my basement and trying out the club’s recently acquired electric brew systems, so I can brew where all my beer toys live.

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

I think I’ve brewed three times in the past year, but they were all 10gal batches, each split between at least two yeasts. Sometimes I’ll dry hop one half of a batch or try different sugars for portions of a saison. I also tend to volunteer to brew beers to serve at beer fests, which is a great way to gain entry to them for cheap. It also encourages me to branch out into styles/additives that I don’t think I’d want a whole keg of for the household, but I often find myself enjoying them much more than expected.

I am a bit of a seasonal brewer. I try to have a pale lager, kölsch, or sometimes hefeweizen for the summer, darker maltier lagers in the fall and winter, and sometimes a dry Irish stout to lead into St. Paddy’s day. Dark heavy beers taste great year round but definitely taste better to me in winter. 

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

I could definitely do much better with my record keeping. My brewing logs are mostly on the Brewer’s Friend website, but some batches I just keep everything low-tech on a notebook page. I rarely repeat an exact recipe, so my memory is usually worth as much as my actual notes when it comes to planning future batches. This doesn’t always translate to educating others effectively, and education is definitely the biggest thing I’m trying to offer the club as president.

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

You’ll be surprised how many ways you might find yourself using your equipment for things besides brewing: I use my Blichmann burner far more often for hot water bath/pressure canning than for making beer; My 5gal starter kettle is my go-to pot for giant batches of chicken stock; I like to add fresh fruit juice or a few mL of fruit flavor extract to a keg of filtered water and hook up the CO2, a few days later, that’s a dirt cheap flavored sparkling water on tap. 

Brewing has also pushed me to invest in some really nice thermometers that I use for everything, all the time. 

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

My other hobbies include bicycling (and racing/endurance events) and modding iPods. I spend much more time and money on bikes than brewing, and will likely have to miss some club events on the calendar that conflict with some of my favorite races, such as the Bear 100 gravel race in Laona, which is on National Homebrew Day in May. But I’ll be celebrating by sharing my beers there.

Besides making beer, I also have a massive shared family garden and plenty of fruit trees, so every year we have a major harvest and a lot of canning, pickling, freezing, dehydrating, juicing/pressing, fermenting, and finding ways to put all to use as much as possible. I grew up with this and then I married into the same traditions. I think it inspired me to want to make my own beer, and sometimes the freezer is too full so I’ll pull out some fruit and make it into a tasty fermented beverage. I don’t drink a lot of fruit beer but the ones I’ve made have been well enough received to make me want to make more of them. I think that’s what I love most about brewing: all the opportunities to be resourceful and make more of the things we consume.



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One Response to Meet a Green Bay Racker- Josh Jahnke

  1. Paul Chambers says:

    Nice bio on Josh. I especially like the way he incorporates home grown produce into his brewing plans.

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