Meet a Green Bay Racker: Al Hendricks

1: Introducing: Al Hendricks

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

At my age memory is a thing of the past but I would have to say at least 13 years ago. I know it was a few years before Mike Conard talk me into starting a wine contest which we have been holding, with the help of many of our members, for 10 years. The first one was held at Trout Creak Winery which was a long way out. We then were able to talk Duck Creak Winery owner, Jim Ploetz, into holding it at his Winery and we just completed the ninth contest there this year. Had to skip one year due to Corvid. I joined the Rackers in hope to broaden my knowledge on wine making, and I believe I have. Received many good ideas to improve my wine so I could receive first place at our contest.

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

I am a wine guy. Tried brewing beer once and had a disaster. Was adding the hops and I guess my kettle was not big enough because I had a serious boil over. Good thing I was doing this outdoors so no real damage but then figure I better stick with making wine. I have made both cider and meads but since I really enjoy drinking wine, that is mainly what I brew. With wine, it is a bottling process which can be time consuming but I purchase a Buon Vino automatic filler(200 bph) and a floor corker so not bad.

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

I retired from running an industrial paint company back in 1999. I started making wine about that time to stay out of my wife’s hair but still find plenty of time for golf and fishing. I ferment basically in plastic pails, either 3 or 5 gallons at a time. Mostly local grapes, fruit, and some kits. The entire process from start to finish will take any where from 3 months to a year depending on the type of wine. After the initial ferment I will generally rack the wine 3 to 4 times and then filter using a minijet system before bottling.

  1. Where do you brew?

I have a walkout ranch home so use about a quarter of the lower area as my winery. Usually have about 200 bottles of wine bottled and ready to drink stored in wine racks built in closets.

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

I am fermenting wine just about any time but when using local grapes, it is in September. Fruit I always freeze before using since that seems to produce more juice so that can be fermented whenever I get the urge as I can with kits. Of course, as Paul Chambers will tell you my famous is the Rhubarb wine. First bottle I brought to a Rackers meeting I dropped in the parking lot, and he stated, that was the best place for it.

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

I am always looking for that special blend of fruit that makes a wining wine.

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

Wine making requires patience. As previously mentioned, start to finish before you get to drink, is 3 months to a year. When wine is fermented to completion, it will be dry but if you like a sweeter wine, remember it can be back sweetened before bottling. Cleaning and sanitation are most important. As a professional wine making told me, When you think it is clean enough, clean one more time.

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

Wine making can be very enjoyable. When someone tells you “Boy that is a great tasting wine” you will feel great. Then when you enter the wine in a contest and you receive BEST OF SHOW, you will be on top of the world. What other hobby can provide joy in making and then consuming.

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Meet a Green Bay Racker: Steven Stary

1: Introducing: Steven Stary

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

I got started making wine about 2017. I’d been looking at the two apple trees in our backyard for years thinking about it and finally decided to have a go at making apple wine. The first attempt was a failure, but I definitely learned from it.

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

I primarily make wine, sometimes mead if the mood strikes me or a good deal on honey comes along. I’ve made beer a few times, but that’s not my main interest. I bottle everything because it’s easier with the space I have.

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

I’ve been making wine, meads, and beer for about 6 years now. Everything is still done on a relatively small scale in my kitchen. 6 gallon batches are the biggest I do, but I often have a few going at a time.

  1. Where do you brew?

In my kitchen, just because that’s where there is a big sink and some space. I’d be happy to be in the basement, but there is no sink there at the moment. Maybe someday.

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

I’ve almost always got something going. In the Summer I’ll make something using the 150 year old rhubarb plant from our garden. In the Fall I’ll make an apple wine. If some other kind of fruit or honey comes my way I’ll find something to do with it. I’ve been working on Chilean juice buckets for the last few years too.

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

My current goal is to produce a really good “big red” wine. I like a dry red with bold flavor, but can’t quite get there yet. I’ve been experimenting with tannins, oak, and even malolactic fermentation. I’ve been improving, so it’s only a matter of time and experimentation.

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

Just go ahead and get started. Start with a kit, or start with a good recipe. (And actually follow it the first time you use it.) If you don’t know something, ask or even google it. There are a lot of resources to help homebrewers. It’s easier than you think. The yeast do most of the work. And be patient. Sometimes it takes time for the yeast, the additives, etc. to do their thing. Don’t get discouraged by failure. Learn from it how to do better next time.

  1. What have I forgotten to ask, is there something else you’d like to share?
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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: https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/business/santa-rosa-beer-pioneer-byron-burch-dies-at-75/

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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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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