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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Meet a Racker: Patrick McFadden

1: Introducing:  Patrick McFadden 

  1. When did you join the Rackers and what got you started? I first brewed when I moved from Boston to Atlanta in 1990. Atlanta had no brewpubs at the time and I was spoiled by the great beer in Boston. (There were only a hundred brewpubs in the USA back then). Asked a friend if I could help him brew. Pro-tip: This means you will be chief bottle washer. Moved to Green Bay about 2002 and joined the Rackers about 2005, been a member off and on since then as I have moved about fairly often. Joining home brew clubs were always a go-to when moving to a new town.
  2. What do you brew (beer, wine, cider, etc.) and how is it packaged and served? Beer – Ales actually, that do not require refrigeration (lagered) during aging. I did one Port Wine kit that was exceptional, but sadly it is no longer available. I bottle, easier to travel with, gift, etc. Larger, 22 ounce bottles can halve your bottling time, and you can always find a friend to share it.
  3. How long have you been brewing and describe your brewing system?  I brew in a kettle on the stove and ferment in plastic buckets. Maybe $100 invested back when. Plus the price of the kit. Have done mostly kits all my life except one all-grain brew. Several beer connoisseurs have told me they cannot tell the difference between kit and all-grain. Several others maintain the opposite opinion. I know some of my brews have fooled some of the best. It’s a great way to start cheaply and easily to see how you like the hobby.  
  4. Where do you brew? In the kitchen. On the stove. Ferment and store in a closet.
  5. How often do you brew; is there a certain schedule you have or is it by season? Pending travels/moving it differs, but plan to get back into brewing soon. Have over 30 kits experience, which I guess over 30 years isn’t that many. Three times over the years I’ve excelled and brewed six kits back to back during the four Fall months to prepare holiday gift 6 packs of 6 different beers. Shopping for 24, done and done. The ‘down’ times during brewing ties in well with bottling the last batch made. Takes about the same amount of time to bottle and brew as it does to just do one or the other. An afternoon well spent.
  6. What aspects of your hobby would you like to improve upon? You would think hanging out with brewers that one would graduate to all-grain, kegging, home taps, and a keezer (a keg refrigerator). Keeping it simple has its merits too. Nearly every time I have moved I’ve started to give away my equipment. But I brewed one more batch and remembered I like my beer better. Thinking I’ll approach a 3 gallon batch and use an All-In-One brew kettle to make it just that much easier for my next batch.    
  7. What advice would you pass on to others considering this hobby: Hobby? Or lifestyle? Start small, don’t be intimidated by the equipment or process. You are just cooking up a recipe. Lean on other brewers for tips. Everyone is happy to help. And be sure to help them drink their beer too.
  8. What have I forgotten to ask, is there something else you’d like to share? “Relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew.” – Charlie Papazian (The Complete Joy of Home Brewing (1984). 900,000 copies sold, so you are not alone. Just jump in at a club brew, or ask if you can wash some bottles for a brewer friend.
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