Homebrewer: Greg Nagel

Welcome back to Thee Beer Book. We are very excited to show off our new look and super psyched on our first story back. Mr. Greg Nagel, brewer, blogger and most importantly an awesome dude. Enjoy.

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Name: Gregory Nagel

When did you start brewing? June 2011

What are you brewing today? Metheweizen, my take on a Bavarian Dunkelweizen.

What got you brewing? I have two huge Loquat trees in my backyard that dump
fruit every spring. After a few years in our house I decided to make wine
out of the fruit which got me into a local homebrew shop. I brewed beer 20+
years prior with college friends and caught the bug again!

When did you start the OC Beer Blog? July 2011

What’s your favorite part about running a beer blog? It’s a culmination of
three of my passions: writing, beer and photography. I really love all
three! Some side effects since getting it out there: I meet a lot of really
great people and have made some awesome friends through it. Travel has also
been great, visiting Boston, Indy and Denver in the last couple years all
in the name of beer blogging.

Tell us about the festival you are putting together. After helping out with
Anaheim’s first beer fest, I felt the need to show cask ales some love. I
thought it would be simpler than a normal beer festival, with brewers
plopping a firkin on a table and pouring it. I love cask beer as well and
can’t wait to see what modern craft brewers will do with the format.

What is your “white whale” beer (the beer you’d hunt to the ends of the
earth for, and possibly die trying to obtain)? The one I haven’t drank yet.
I’m not really a whale chaser. Through bottle shares, special releases at
restaurants and the occasional trade, I’ve been happy with what I can get
without too much trouble.

Last beer that blew your mind? Noble Ale Works Tongue Tickles DIPA. I’m not
a huge double IPA guy, but this beer blew me away. I view Stone’s Enjoy By
IPA as a benchmark and Tongue Tickles exceeded it.

What is your favorite local craft brewery? Toss up between Noble Ale Works
and the Bruery.

Do you have a homebrewing disaster you’d like to share? hmm…my only real
disaster was lifting a toenail up while brewing with flip-flops. I now use
steel-toe rubber boots.

What is your favorite style(s) to brew? Belgian and German ales get the
most rotation. I prefer to keep high character session beers on tap such as
Saison or Dunkelweizen. I have a nice pipeline of sour beers as well. I
love that you really don’t know what it’s going to taste like in the end.
I’ve also been getting into English styles recently.

What style(s) will you never brew? Double IPA. To brew one that matches a
professional level takes a lot of money and they must be consumed fresh. I
brew beers that can survive being on tap for a couple months. I hate
bottling.

What was the first beer you ever brewed?  How did it turn out? I did an
American Wheat with Maple Syrup called “Sunday Morning”. It turned out
great! Nice and dry with some earthiness from the maple.

Have you ever had a homebrew mistake that turned out great? I tried to brew
a smoked IPA and used 20% smoke malt in the grist. It smelled like a
petting zoo! Instead of dumping it, I added some wild yeast (brett-b) and
forgot about it. Six months later it smelled and tasted like a
burned/charred pineapple! It ended up being silky smooth and tropical with
a smokey backend.

What is your favorite recipe based off of a commercial style? One of my
favorite IPA’s is Duet from Alpine Beer Co. It’s a simple malt bill with
the Duet being sung by Simcoe and Amarillo. I use that base recipe and use
Belgian Golden yeast for some extra fruity yeast notes. I’m salivating
thinking about it.

Have any of your beers won awards? Early on, I won first in the OC Fair for
my New England Cider. I aged it in a blue corn whiskey barrel for a month
and it was killer. I’ve also won for fruit wine (loquat, as mentioned
above) and my Saison got 3rd in the OC Fest of Ales homebrew comp. I
stopped entering recently because I don’t like brewing to style…I brew to
drink.

Do you have a favorite homebrew trick or gadget that you’ve found to make
your beer better/brewing easier, etc? Every year I try to add another layer
of complexity to my brewing to make it more fun. This year I’ve added yeast
management to the mix. Doing yeast starters and washing yeast takes some
effort, but can end up saving a lot of money in the long haul. Yeast isn’t
cheap. I estimate the stir plate and mason jars will pay for themselves
after ten batches of beer. Not a bad return on investment!

What are you brewing with? My brewery is 80% donated or repurposed items. I
use two 10G igloo coolers for mash/HLT, a 12G keggle, a homemade
counterflow wort chiller and a Marsh pump to move liquid around. It’s all
manual.

How frequently do you brew (times per month or year)? I brew primarily to
keep my four taps full of beer as needed and my sour pipeline strong. I
also brew to season; lower alcohol beers in Jan/Feb to help shed off the
winter pounds, Berliner Weisse and IPA for the summer and stouts in the
winter. Generally I hit around 100 gallons a year.

What is your favorite malt?  Why? I like to throw in 5-10% Rye malt in a
lot of my beers. I really enjoy the subtle spice note it gives.

What is your favorite hop? Whole cone Nelson Sauvin – love the grape
bubblegum and tropical notes.

What is your dream beer and food pairing? Stone Enjoy By with a
Pineapple/Jalapeno pizza.

Do you belong to a homebrew club? Not actively

Is there any advice you would like to give to new homebrewers? Start small
and simple, join a homebrew club early on. Learn your info from hundreds of
places, not one or two. Don’t let people do work for you. Use homebrewing
as a means to grow yourself.

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Follow Greg on his beer adventures here. And if you don’t already have tickets for FirkFest, get on it.

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