Member Profile: Andrew Kotowick

This is a new feature we are introducing on our club blog. We will periodically profile some of our club members to help build our sense of community and also to help people get to know each other more. If you would like to volunteer to be profiled please email gtabrews@gmail.com!

*Note from Eric: Andrew is our VP Communications, and also runs our social media. I'm glad he agreed to be our first club member profiled!

Andrew Kotowick

What is your occupation (outside homebrewing)?

For about 10 years I worked in the Casino Gaming industry. I’ve worked at a bunch of casinos around the province and I was everything from a Table Games Dealer to a Slot Operations Supervisor. I needed a change so I took a job at Apple Retail. I started out as a technician and had a few roles before landing on my current one which is Inventory Specialist. Basically I manage all the inventory for an Apple Store.

What got you into homebrewing?

I love to tinker with things and to make stuff. I really hadn’t thought of home brewing until someone I worked with (group member Frank Patten) told me he was doing it. I tried one of his earlier beers and I really enjoyed it! I didn’t immediately jump in at that point but it was on my radar and had sparked an interest. About a year later I met Sean Bersen who I also work with and he mentioned that he was into homebrewing. We started talking about it a bit and I started to do a little research. One night I was out with my wife and we were having a pint of a Gose from Amsterdam and I thought to myself there are so many styles that I will probably never get to try so I decided I wanted to get into it myself. I did a ton of research (probably over thought it) and waited a bit to buy equipment. My wife decided that I needed to just start, so for Christmas she bought me a Brewer’s Best kit, a kettle and an extract kit. So Christmas Day I brewed my first beer and I’ve been hooked ever since.

How long have you been brewing and how many batches last year?

I’ve been brewing for 2 years now. Last year I brewed about a dozen batches. I try not to brew the same thing twice. Part of the fun of homebrewing for me is experimenting and trying something I haven’t done before.

Do you have any favourite styles you like to brew?

My favourite styles to drink have to be IPA and APA. I can always drink one. My favourite style to brew so far has been Doppelbock. I brewed a Doppelbock recently that I did a triple decotion mash and a 135 minute boil. I really enjoyed the process even though it took forever!

What kind of setup do you use?

I started with an extract kit but moved to BIAB right after that. I wanted more control over the recipe and the process. I did that for a little while and after brewing a few batches with Sean and his mash tun, I made my own. My current setup is a converted rectangular cooler mash tun, an 8 gallon kettle with a ball lock and a copper immersion chiller. For fermentation I converted a small freezer into a fermentation chamber. For temperature control I use an STC-1000 though I will be using the BrewPi that I built going forward. No kegging yet so I still bottle condition.

What is the worst beer you have brewed?

The worst beer I’ve made has to be my first BIAB batch. It was a Belgian Dubbel. It wasn’t a bad beer but it wasn’t exactly true to style.

What did you learn from that worst beer?

I learned to pay attention to the details and fully research the style before you brew. I used regular sugar instead of Candi Syrup and it was lacking that true “Trappist” flavour and body.

What is the best beer you have brewed (share recipe)?

The best beer I’ve brewed was also probably the least complicated. I brewed an American Pale Ale last year that won it’s category at Brew Slam last fall. I loved that beer! Very sessionable. I’m slightly obsessed with Citra. I could use it in almost anything so I decided I was going to do a SMaSH using Citra and my favourite base malt, Maris Otter. Because I didn’t really want something too bitter I only did late additions. The recipe was:

*Gold medal in APA at Brew Slam 2015

Andrew Kotowick's Citra SMASH

What is a change you have implemented that you feel made a big improvement in your beer?

The change I made that has had the most impact on my beer has to be temperature control for fermentation. So much of the final product is dependant on fermentation so being able to control that variable is so important.

What advice would you give to a new homebrewer?

  • Do your research
  • Ask a ton of questions (you have almost 1100 people in this group to use as resources)
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes but learn from them when you do make them
  • Enter competitions! The feedback you get is very helpful
  • Experiment. Try strange ingredients and processes. Learn about “the funk”

Do you have any certifications related to beer and/or homebrewing (BJCP, Cicerone, etc…)?

I am currently studying for the BJCP online exam and will be taking the tasting exam in January.

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