What is your occupation (outside homebrewing)?
I am a computer engineer working as an SAP Business One functional consultant. My job involves the implementation of software throughout all stages of the project. In summary, it's a mix of consulting, software design, and support.
What got you into homebrewing?
I always had a curiosity about brewing beer but didn't have the drive to do it. Then, during the early months of the pandemic with all the confinement and loss of a family member, I needed a distraction and a new hobby. My wife gave me an online tasting and a beer-making event. Unfortunately, the event was canceled, so I thought, "I have plenty of time, why not buy the supplies and give it a try?" I started watching YouTube videos to understand the materials needed, realized there were various methods, and chose the one I considered the simplest – using extract. After enjoying the process with extract, I wanted to try the full process, so I bought a basic all-grain kit.
What are your hobbies/interests outside of homebrewing?
Apart from homebrewing, I love travel, experiencing new cultures, and hiking.
How long have you been brewing and how many batches last year?
I've been homebrewing for three and a half years since June 2020. In the past year, I brewed 14 batches. I'd love to have more space to brew more frequently and have a wider variety of styles available in my kegs.
Do you have any favourite styles you like to brew?
I enjoy German, English, and Irish styles. I appreciate all the processes involved in brewing a Hefeweizen.
What kind of setup do you use?
My brewing equipment includes a 35 Liters Brewzilla, a 7-gallon Unitank SS Brewtech Fermenter, and a Glycol Chiller for temperature control. For serving a Kegerator with 2 taps.
What is the worst beer you have brewed? What did you learn from it?
My worst batch was a Witbier. In my first attempt, I used a low quantity of orange peel in the boil. To fix it, I added an orange peel after fermentation ended (too much contact time, to much orange peel), resulting in a beer that tasted like unpleasant orange juice. At that moment, I learned about how the quantity of adjuncts during the boil impacts the beer and how the contact time adjuncts can change the beer profile.
What is the best beer you have brewed?
I believe the best beer I've made is a Hefeweizen from last February. That batch was different from all the others I made throughout the year. Also, a Berliner Weisse with Guava likes it a lot.
What is a change you have implemented that you feel made a big improvement in your beer?
I think the most significant improvements during this time have been temperature control and water treatment with salts.
What advice would you give to a new homebrewer?
My advice would be to invest time in reading and studying. YouTube is an excellent tool, but be careful about the different sources of information because sometimes the overwhelming amount of information from different sources can be confusing. Also, I recommend reading specific books on topics like yeast, water etc. If possible, take a sensory course to better understand what's happening in your beer. Regarding equipment, for beginners, I would allocate a larger portion of the budget to the cold side, such as the fermenter and/or temperature control.
Do you have any certifications related to beer and/or homebrewing (BJCP, Cicerone, etc…)?
I'm a Certified BJCP and a Certified Beer Server from the Cicerone Program. I hope to continue learning and studying.
What is your favourite yeast, grain, and hop?
Hops: UK East Kent Golding, Citra
Yeast: WLP300, Wyeast 1318 London Ale III
Grain: Crisp Maris Otter
What beer is your white whale, one that you’ve been chasing to perfect?
I enjoy hoppy beers like IPAs, however brewing is a different history. So, always trying to improve by updating the recipe and process. The results aren't always what I'm looking for, sometimes too bitter or grassy, oxidation etc.
Do you have a name for your homebrewery?
Yes, the name is Coco Viejo Craft Beer. Find me on Instagram: @CocoViejo_Beer.