Homebrewer: Scott Bennett

It’s always difficult to get schedules to sync up when planning these stories, but in Scott Bennett’s case difficult is the ultimate understatement. We first met Scott Bennett at the very beginning of this project. Scott was hosting a club brew day at his house and Don Barnum invited us to come and shoot some photos for the story we were working on about him. It has been over a year since that brew day and during that time Scott has upgraded his brew system, switched to all grain and oh yeah, won some pretty big contests with his beer.

This is the first story using a new questionaire format. I asked Scott to send me a couple questions he would like to see answered by other brewers and he supplied us with an entire questionaire. If there are any questions you guys would like see answered by future brewers leave us a comment with your ideas. For now allow us to introduce you to Scott Bennett. Enjoy.

Name: Scott Neel Bennett

When did you start brewing? On my own in December of 2010, prior to that I had done two brew on premise batches at BrewBakers in Huntington Beach; one in 2007 and the other in 2008.

What are you brewing today? We brewed Scott’s GRANDE IPL (aka Scott’s BIG IPL)
http://snbbrewing.blogspot.com/2012/06/scotts-grande-ipl.html

What got you brewing? I started to get into beer in the mid 2000s, during this time I took a trip to Detroit and visited a childhood buddy who happened to be a homebrewer.  He gave me one of his beers and it was fantastic. I knew right then that I wanted to give it a try one day.

When did you know this was no ordinary hobby, it was an obsession?  When I realized I was more concerned about climate control for my beer than I was for my house.

When did you join the AHA?  I joined in June of 2010

What is your “white whale” beer (the beer you’d hunt to the ends of the earth for, and possibly die trying to obtain)?  One day I would like to try Kate the Great, it’s on my 2012 to do list.

Last beer that blew your mind? Hard to narrow down as I’ve had some fantastic beers in the last 12 months: Squatter’s Fifth Element, Three Floyds Bourbon Vanilla Dark Lord, Portsmouth Kate the Great, Logsdon Farmhouse Peche ‘n Brett, The Bruery White Chocolate and Goose Island King Henry

What is the most prized beer in your collection? I’ve got a couple; The Bruery Partridge in a Pear Tree, Goose Island Rare Bourbon County Stout, I’m in the process of obtaining a 2008 Surly Darkness

What is your favorite local craft brewery? My favorite brewery is Surly Brewing out of Minnesota, my local favorite in California right now is Beachwood BBQ and Brewing in Long Beach.  I’m also a huge fan of Alpine Brewing, The Bruery and Stone Brewing.

Do you have a homebrewing disaster you’d like to share?  Last summer I was brewing a stout in my garage.  I was attempting to control the temperature via a water bath.  One day the temps hit high 90s outside and low 100s in my garage.  When I got home my beer was around 88 internally and while I was unpacking some stuff the airlock burst off hitting the ceiling.  That was the last time I made beer outside a temperature controlled deep freeze and an airlock at the start of fermentation (now I use a blow off tube).

What is your favorite style(s) to brew? Hoppy beers and Lagers, I’m known for my BIG IPL which is a Double India Pale Lager with crazy hop aroma.

What style(s) will you never brew? Never say never, as my journey into beer has progressed I’ve found myself enjoying beers I had previously written off.  While I doubt I’ll ever brew all the styles I want to keep my options open.

What was the first beer you ever brewed?  How did it turn out? On my own, a Mr. Beer IPA that I named after my daughter to be that turned out to be a cidery mess

Have you ever had a homebrew mistake that turned out great?  I’ve messed up the timing of hop additions but was pleased with the way the finished product came out that I changed the recipe.

What is your favorite recipe based off of a commercial style?  I really like the results of the Northern Brewer Pro Series Surly Furious Kit and recently brewed the Cynic one.

Have any of your beers won awards? 

AHP July 2010 Competition
First Place: Scott’s BIG IPA

Karl Strauss 2011 Pro-Am
First Place: Scott’s BIG IPL

BYO 2011 Label Competition
Editor’s Choice: BBA Wookiee

2011 OC Fair
Second Place (601 Light Lagers): Costa del Sol

Stone’s 2012 AHA Homebrew Rally
Forth Place: Scott’s BIG IPL

Are you a BJCP Judge? No, but I do judge in the club competitions.  Getting certified is in my plans

Do you have a good beer judging story you’d like to share with the rest of the homebrewing world? I think people feel that beer judging must be great because of all the good beer you get to try.  Truth is for every great beer you get to have 2-3 bad beers some downright undrinkable.  The worst beer I’ve judged to date smelled and tasted like horse droppings.

Do you have a favorite homebrew trick or gadget that you’ve found to make your beer better/brewing easier, etc? I have a ratcheting wrench from sears that is 7/16 on one side and 7/8 on the other.

What are you brewing with? Currently my system is made up of a 15 gallon keggle, a 10 gallon cooler mash tun and I batch sparge with heated water from 2 smaller pots (one 5 gallon and one 3 gallon) which gets the job done.  I serve my beer out of the keezer I built or as I call it The Indy Crate

How frequently do you brew (times per month or year)? 1-2 times a month is the plan.

What is your favorite malt?  Why?  I like to say Victory because I love the name and do try to incorporate a small percentage where I can.  I recently used Carared and loved the flavor and color.

What is your favorite hop? Why? Right now it’s hands down Citra, love that hop as it provides a really rich passion fruit flavor and a very pronounced citrus aroma. I also love the big C hops from the Northwest, Simcoe and Amarillo.

What is your dream beer and food pairing?  A nice IPA/IPL paired with some spicy chicken tacos.

Do you have a favorite or house yeast? What qualities do you like about that yeast? WLP007 is the closest thing I have house yeast as I use it the most.  It provides a fast really clean fermentation with low esters, which is great for hoppy beers, it’s highly attenuative and works well in high gravity beers.

Do you belong to a homebrew club? Do you have a good homebrew club story you’d like to share?  I belong to two clubs, Brewcommune and AHP Brew Club both in Orange County.  I feel that belonging to multiple clubs and multiple forums is important as they can provide a well rounded knowledge of brewing. The thing I’ve found is, in brewing, there are multiple right ways to do things and you should always be open minded to new techniques or ideas.

What is a beer style that is underappreciated and/or could take off given the opportunity and exposure?  I definitely think session beers are underappreciated. It seems like there is more focus on big 7-8% beers then sub 4%, the funny thing is that brewing a clean session beer is a lot harder than a big beer as mistakes have nothing to hide behind.

Is there any advice you would like to give to new homebrewers?  Start slowly and really learn the importance behind each step before you move on.  With the quality of ingredients available out there today for extract brewers there is no huge reason to rush to all grain.  Also sanitation is the number one skill as homebrewers should master.  If you continue to get off flavored beers really take a step back and examine your cleaning and sanitation process.

Check Scott out here.

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