Ben From Homebrewsy Rocks 20 Questions
Homebrewing is a journey that can take many different paths. Most homebrewers have thought about going pro at some point. After all, a bad day brewing is still a lot more fun than a good day stuck in a dull job making your boss look good.
Benjamin and Alayna went pro- but not as brewers. They’re the creative team behind Homebrewsy.com, where you can find a range of brewing related threads and other gear. They also put out blog posts with collections of useful resources, interviews, DIY guides, gift guides and beer related news.
Benjamin nicely agreed to play 20 questions, and then went the distance for another 20.
If you’ve ever thought about chucking the grind aside to travel (and who isn’t dreaming about being able to go somewhere else right now?), brew with friends and drink amazing beer, this won’t convince you otherwise. It might just scratch that itch to get out and brew with friends again- albeit vicariously.
Hop: What got you interested in brewing?
Homebrewsy: In college I saw a deal website offering homebrew kits for one third the normal price. Instead of get one at a discount, I bought three. I brewed in my apartment and enjoyed it, but the kit was extract and too simple. A year or so later my roommate wanted to brew some cider so we did. It was fun. A few 1-gallon batches of cider later, we were brewing 5 gallons of cider at a time. Then we started brewing beer.
Hop: Did you do all grain or extract?
Homebrewsy: My first brew was an extract kit brewed in a brown plastic keg. You know, the kind that rhymes with shmister smhear.
Hop: Did you brew with someone experienced or fly solo?
Homebrewsy: I brewed that first batch by myself. I got lots of advice from seasoned brewers when I started brewing for real a while later.
Hop: How did the beer turn out?
Homebrewsy: I barely remember it; I think it was palatable and mediocre.
Hop: Do you have a favorite beer or favorite style of beer to brew?
Homebrewsy: I love all beers and rarely find one I dislike. I like brewing simple, solid beers like a California Steam and funky weird beers that sit for a few months and get a little weird.
Hop: What are your favorite books on brewing?
Homebrewsy: Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian got me started. I’m currently reading American Sour Bears and The New IPA and loving the deep dive into those topics.
Hop: Do you have a favorite brewing resource?
Homebrewsy: I’m recently loving the AHA magazine. Homebrewtalk.com is where I spent hours learning when I first started. I also love getting inspired from other homebrewers on Instagram.
Hop: What is your brewing setup like?
Homebrewsy: I currently brew with 2 keggles and a drink cooler mash tun with no bells and whistles. No pumps, no ball valves. Super simple. I’m planning to get back to stovetop brewing and do a few small batches there.
Hop: All grain or extract?
Homebrewsy: All grain when I can. I’ll do an extract beer on a lazy day.
Hop: Do you have a brewing bucket list?
Homebrewsy: I’d love to get a funky beer schedule going when I get a bit more settled somewhere. Right now, I move around a lot so having the space and patience for aged beers isn’t in the cards. I’d also like to brew alongside commercial brewers someday. It is fascinating to me how similar and different the process is at a large scale.
Hop: Do you have a favorite beer to drink or a preferred style of beer?
Homebrewsy: I love NEIPAs, big stouts, and everything in between.
Hop: Have you ever tried to brew that beer?
Homebrewsy: I still haven’t brewed an NEIPA or a big stout. It’s about time!
Hop: If you could offer one piece of brewing advice to yourself as a beginner, what would it be?
Homebrewsy: Keep it simple. Control the temperature.
Hop: How long have you been homebrewing?
Homebrewsy: Since 2013
Hop: Any aspirations of going pro?
Homebrewsy: It’s always in the back of my mind. I don’t think I’ll act on it anytime soon but I’d love to someday.
Hop: Do you have a favorite hop? If so, what is it about that hop that is special to you?
Homebrewsy: I love Amarillo hops. I just love the way they smell. I must have a good memory associated with them but I can’t quite recall it.
Hop: What hops do you want to try out that you haven’t brewed with already?
Homebrewsy: So many. I want to do some SMASH 1-gallon experiments and dry hop with different hops to understand how they differ.
Hop: Do you have a favorite beer destination?
Homebrewsy: Colorado has been my favorite so far. Denver, Fort Collins, Longmont, and beyond all have such amazing breweries.
Hop: Do you ferment anything besides beer?
Homebrewsy: I’ve tried a few wine kits and meads that were super mediocre. I was brewing 15 gallons of kombucha at a time using my keggle as a fermenter and I’d like to get back to that.
Hop: Are you competitive with your brewing?
Homebrewsy: No competitions for me yet. I’d like to but I was kegging exclusively for a long time and never wanted to bottle my beers. Now I’m back to bottling so I may enter a few to get the feedback.
Hop: What’s the strangest ingredient that you’ve ever brewed with?
Homebrewsy: It’s not a strange ingredient, but I did a “Frankenstein’s monster” beer with a bunch of leftover extracts and open hops.
Hop: How did the beer come out?
Homebrewsy: It was fantastic. I’m disappointed I didn’t write it down.
Hop: Would you brew with it again?
Homebrewsy: Absolutely if I could remember the recipe!
Hop: What did you learn from brewing with that?
Homebrewsy: Take good notes.
Hop: Do you take notes when you brew?
Homebrewsy: I never have. I think it’s time to take notes and get more deliberate. I’ve been pretty sloppy and just having fun but I enjoy the improvement now and have more patience for it so I think it’s time to get more serious.
Hop: What inspired you to start your business?
Homebrewsy: I wanted to create gear that I was proud to wear. I’ve always enjoyed beer and brewing but I’m not a big “Let’s get wasted” graphic tee kind of guy. I wanted to create designs that were simple and understated that matched the level of craft that I see fellow homebrewers put into their beers.
Hop: If you had to start all over again, would you?
Homebrewsy: I’m happy with how we’ve grown so far. If I started all over again, I’d brew more beers :)
Hop: Any advice for a homebrewer looking to take their passion and turn it into a business?
Homebrewsy: If it’s something you want to try, do it. There are so many opportunities to build a business in brewing. Start small and just go, figure it out as you go along.
Hop: Who is on your team/involved in the business?
Homebrewsy: Right now, it’s just me and my fiancé Alayna. We do everything ourselves. It’s a big reason we started. I’ve worked in marketing for a long time but never have sold anything online myself. Being involved in every aspect helps me see the whole process and I’m learning so much.
Hop: What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve received?
Homebrewsy: Start today. Move fast. Stay out of debt. You don’t have a business until you sell something to someone.
Hop: What’s the best piece of business advice you have given someone else?
Homebrewsy: Take your own advice. I’m trying to live by this all the time.
Hop: Looking one year, five years or 10 years down the line, where would you like the business to be?
Homebrewsy: I want to be collaborating with more homebrewers and pro brewers. Traveling around brewing even more beers with anyone who wants to. I’d also love to be creating new resources for homebrewers and helping us connect online. I don’t know what that looks like yet, but I’m excited to keep brewing and learning.
Hop: Any major changes in 2020?
Homebrewsy: We’re working on launching fun new products, collaborating with designers, and reaching more people. We’re not able to travel right now so that should give us time to brew more and get more creative.
Hop: Any new projects in the works?
Homebrewsy: Nothing too crazy. We’re working on some beer inspired patterns and might experiment with some new products using them, like yoga pants and neck ties.
Hop: What’s your best-selling product?
Homebrewsy: We started with embroidered hop hats and those have been the most popular so far. They are fun and there aren’t a lot of homebrew hat options out there.
Hop: Did you expect that it would be?
Homebrewsy: I kind of knew that there weren’t many hats but I wasn’t sure anyone wanted them as simple as I did. It’s been nice to get feedback and hear that people like to wear them and give them as gifts. We love hearing that people enjoy our gear - it’s so nice that we can create something people will enjoy.
Hop: Who does the designs for your shop?
Homebrewsy: We started without any design experience so a few designer friends helped get us going. Now my fiancé Alayna (@alaynacreative) does all the design work. We are working to get some designer collaborations going soon.
Hop: You seem to travel a fair amount, and brew with a lot of different people. Do you get to try the beers as well?
Homebrewsy: We left our full-time jobs in 2018 and started traveling full time. We saved up to take a whole year off and now we’re trying to keep it going and be fully nomadic. It gave us time to do lots of exploring and work on interesting projects and brew in some fun places. We haven’t gotten to try anything we brewed on our travels with other people but hopefully we will return to some places we’ve been and do that soon! We did get to try interesting fermented things all over the world and taste some amazing brews from homebrewers.
Hop: Any advice for homebrewers starting to work together or collaborating for the first time?
Homebrewsy: Do it. Brewing with other people is my favorite part. I learn new things from every person I interact with. There are so many different ways to brew and no wrong way. My advice is to be open and curious and share as much as you can. Getting feedback from others has helped my brewing so much.
Hop: Have you ever done a Pro-Am beer?
Homebrewsy: I would love to do this but I never have. I think I’d need to get a recipe good enough first!
Hop: You’re based out of Oklahoma, right?
Homebrewsy: Yes, we’re in Tulsa, Oklahoma! We have a few great homebrew clubs and shops. The community here is tight and supportive. I haven’t gotten as involved as I’d like with traveling around so much.
Hop: How is homebrewing perceived in the state?
Homebrewsy: Homebrewing is widely accepted here. There are several big competitions including at the state fairs, lots of collaboration with neighboring states, and homebrewers are invited to most of the major beer events to serve homebrew. Oklahoma is welcoming and friendly which I love.
Hop: Has that changed in recent years?
Homebrewsy: Our biggest changes recently have been with commercial breweries and liquor laws in general. We were not a supportive state for breweries for a long time and that is now changing for the better.
Hop: Where can people follow along with what you’re doing?
Homebrewsy: I’m on Instagram @Homebrewsy posting weird beer pics, gear, and collaborating with as many people as I can.
All Images courtesy Homebrewsy.