Meet a Racker – Steve Roth

1: Introducing: Steve Roth

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

I joined the Rackers when I moved to the Green Bay area almost 10 years ago. There was a lull in there when I wasn’t as active with brewing at first, but I joined because I was part of the Sheboygan Suddzers prior to coming here. I wanted to meet like-minded people. 

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

Beer is my thing. Wine? No. I tried my hand at one of those sweet kits. It was fine, but just not my thing. There are plenty of great wine makers in this group. I’ll drink theirs! 😊 Cider? Yep, I bought 20 gallons this year from local orchards. I still have a keg on tap, and I’ve got more cider in the freezer waiting until I decide I want another batch. That’ll likely be Springtime because there’s that lull before Fall hits and I can get the stuff again. Mead? Not yet, but I’m tempted……..

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

I’ve been at this for more than a decade now. My passion has drastically escalated in the last 4 years. My system is an AIO (All-In-One). I have the Brewzilla Gen4 65L. (17.2gal). I am fully grain-to-glass. Stir plate method yeast starters (if liquid) 🡪 milling my grain 🡪 water chemistry 🡪 mash with precise PID controls 🡪 boil with a steam condenser 🡪 chilling with a Jaded Scylla immersion 🡪 ferment in a jacketed unitank 🡪 temp control with glycol 🡪 cold crash/carbonate in the tank 🡪 O2 free transfer to keg and serve on my kegerator. 

  1. Where do you brew?

My basement. See above mentioned steam condenser. Helps with moisture, but not for smell. 

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

I generally brew every two weeks, depends on when the mood strikes. These last two weeks I brewed each weekend. 6gal of a SMaSH (Single Malt and Single Hop) German lager. (Munich light/Saaz/German Bock) and just a few days ago I brewed up 12gal of an Amber. There is no rhyme or reason, really. The only seasonality rule I try to follow is when I want my true German Oktoberfest brew. I’ll lager it for 4-6 months and have it ready by Fall. 

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

I’m constantly learning and evolving. I absolutely love the science and precision of this hobby. My latest new technique that I’m trying to figure out? Pressure fermenting. My first go with it is on the SMaSH I’m doing right now. 

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

INVEST ON THE COLD-SIDE! You will be paid the most dividends from this hobby if you take care of what you do with your wort once that boil is over. Also, here are the couple things that I know took me from good beer, to award winning: 

– Water chemistry. I use distilled water and build up a water profile for every beer I make. 

– Fermentation temperature control. I know it’s intimidating but I want to make sure people understand that even if you have your fermenter in a room that has an ambient temperature that is in range of the yeast specs, that does not mean it’ll hold. Fermentation is exothermic, meaning it generates heat. Inside that vessel it is increasing anywhere from 5-10 degrees. If that yeast had a range of up to 72 degrees for example, you are likely now outside of the spec and could cause off flavors. 

– Oxygen free. Oxidation is real and will destroy a beer in no time. Don’t believe me? I have a side-by-side picture of a NEIPA that I took 3rd place with at a big competition. I had one bottle left in the fridge I decided to open a month or so after the comp. Beautiful when sent to the comp. Brown, cardboard tasting muck water in that last bottle. Clearly, I didn’t bottle that one well enough. 

Now, do you need all these things like I do to make good beer? Nope. But understanding how these things work will help you understand and make decisions to make the best beer you can make. This is a time-consuming hobby. Life is too short for bad beer! 😉 

Finally, if you’re new, get a mentor! It’s intimating to jump into this. But it doesn’t have to be. 

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

Brewing beer is just like any hobby out there, meaning you get back what you put into it. Though, it’s the best one, obviously. I’m not biased or anything. I’d like to share that I love helping people and “talking shop.” I’m always available to answer any questions about what I’ve learned or my process if it helps others. We’re all at different stages with this hobby but we can all make awesome beer.  

Cheers Friends. 

-Steve

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