Meet a Green Bay Racker: Jim Kostreva

Meet a Green Bay Racker

1: Introducing: Jim Kostreva

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

I joined the Rackers about 5 years ago after I had retired. After retirement I wanted to be closer to friends & family and thought it would be a great time to get more active in home brewing.

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

I’ve tried making Mead, but 99.9% of the time I’m brewing beer. Sometimes I bottle and sometimes I keg. Kegs are great for taking beer to festivals, but bottles are great for giving beer to others.

4. How long have you been brewing?

I started home brewing when I was living in Northern California. I don’t remember when I actually started, but it was sometime in the 90’s. What got me interested in home brewing was an Adult Education pamphlet that I got in the mail. It listed classes covering things like foreign languages, cooking, pottery, etc. To my surprise there was also a class in brewing beer.

I took the class with some friends from work and started brewing with them. The class was taught by Bryon Burch, an early voice in home brewing. He had a home brew shop; a club called The Beerocrats & wrote a book in 86′ called “Brewing Quality Beers.” I have to say, though, while the Beerocrats were a good club, the Green Bay Rackers are a fantastic club and I love living in Wisconsin. Thinking back to those days, I remember how after work, we used to walk over to a warehouse where a small brewery was just starting up. They threw some parties & had live music. I never thought back then that Lagunitas would become the large operation it is today.

In case you’re interested in some background information on Byron check out this link:

5. Where do you brew and describe your system?

I brew at home. I have a small frig for temperature control, use a cooler mash tun and have a propane burner I use in the garage. I had plans for a rims system and have some parts for it, but I’m afraid that would be going in that direction might make brewing too involved and messy, for me.

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

I don’t brew as much as some others. For me a 5-gallon batch lasts for quite a while and I also like trying new commercial brews. I’m considering downsizing to 3-gallon patches & have a couple of 3-gallon kegs. I don’t brew to a schedule, but I might try, in the near future, coordinating some brews to allow for entry to some competitions. I like brewing when I can open the garage door, use my propane burner & connect my immersion chiller to the outside faucet. In a pinch, though, I can connect the immersion chiller to my kitchen faucet & the gas stove in the kitchen is usable.

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

I’d like to be able to do an oxygen free transfer from the fermenter to the keg and am interested in learning how to use a counter pressure filler. I’m also planning on borrowing one of those all-in-one systems sometime and learning how they work.

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

I’d say, for brewing beer, start simple using extract & concentrate on one style. Then fine tune it until you’ve really worked out all the issues you come across. You might find issues with the recipe and/or the process you’re using. After that, you can branch out & try other beers and techniques.

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

I think it’s great that the club also supports wine making, mead making, cider and other activities.


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One Response to Meet a Green Bay Racker: Jim Kostreva

  1. Paul Chambers says:

    Great interview!

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