Home Brewing with Rick Felser

According to the American Homebrewing Association, there are currently 1.1 million people in the US who brew their own beer. You can include BSP’s Machine Repairman, Rick Felser on that list. Rick has been crafting his own beer since 2015 when his mother in law gave him a beginners homebrewing starter kit.

After enjoying several local homebrewing classes, Rick decided to invest in a custom homebrewing system. Built in Oklahoma, the system has three 15-gallon stainless steel kettles, pumps and a control panel. Rick also used his skills to fabricate a ventilation hood out of an old beer keg. The ventilation system is needed to remove the steam during the boiling process.  All this sits in his Orchard Park, New York basement where Rick does his magic.  Rick’s creativity and skill has earned him the Amber Waves of Grain 2nd place best of show and the 2018 2nd place best of show for the Taste of Buffalo competition.

Sitting with Rick, we asked him seven quick questions about Homebrewing.

Is there a lot of science when making beer?

Yes, Zymurgy is the study or practice of fermentation in brewing, winemaking, or distilling.

Can you share some of the science involved?

Mashing is the process of soaking barley grains in warm water (131F - 162F) to activate the malt enzymes and convert the grain starches into fermentable sugars. Mashing at the higher end of that range produces longer sugars which are harder for the yeast to eat. More sugar will be left over after fermentation resulting in a more full-bodied beer. Stouts are usually mashed at the higher temperatures for a thicker and sweeter mouthfeel while lagers and pilsners are at the low end for a thinner bodied and drier beer.

What is your favorite beer that you ever made?

A lime blonde ale. I add fresh lime juice and zest during the boiling process.  I always have this on tap for family and friends during the summer months.

What is the most unique flavor you ever created?

I made a brown ale with fresh ground black pepper. It was interesting.

Are you in a club for beer lovers?

I belong to Das Hausbrauers Von Buffalo. (The Buffalo Home Brewers).  We meet monthly at local craft brew pubs and members homes to exchange recipes, discuss brewing procedures and of course sample everyone’s latest homebrewed beer.

 

Rick with his many awards Rick with his many awards Rick with his many awards Rick with his many awards
An excited Rick Felser after winning several awards.

Can you list some of the local beer homebrewing competitions?

Amber Waves of Grain Homebrew competition, one of the largest in the country is run by volunteers and homebrewers from the Niagara Association of Homebrewers. This year’s AWOG had 551 entries.

The Erie county fair also has a growing competition. The winning beer is brewed by a local brewery Flying Bison and served at the fair.

Can you explain the process on how your beer is judged?

Each beer is given points for various categories including; aroma, appearance, flavor, mouthfeel and overall impression. The highest score a beer can receive is 50 points. Each beer is entered based on style.  For example, a stout would be judged along with other stouts which need to follow the written BJCP official guidelines.

There are more than 100 possible styles of beer under the BJCP guidelines that you can brew and enter in a competition. Each beer receives its own score sheet once judged and 1st, 2nd and 3rd place awards will be issued at that time for the top three scores in its category. The winners of each category then go on to a "Best of Show" panel of judges where they decide on the three best beers of the entire competition.

Thank you, Rick, for sharing the art of homebrewing. Buffalo is rooting for you on your next competition.

There are more than 100 possible styles of beer under the BJCP guidelines that you can brew and enter in a competition. Each beer receives its own score sheet once judged and 1st, 2nd and 3rd place awards will be issued at that time for the top three scores in its category. The winners of each category then go on to a "Best of Show" panel of judges where they decide on the three best beers of the entire competition.

Thank you, Rick, for sharing the art of homebrewing. Buffalo is rooting for you on your next competition.

In Rick's basement is where the homebrewing magic happens.
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