Brewer profile: Billy Broas
In the latest installment of our occasional Featured Brewer series, we interview Billy Broas, a homebrewer and the mind behind BillyBrew.com, a beer blog that is dedicated to “Exploring craft beer, homebrewing & beer culture.”
Where you live: Denver, CO
Family: Live with my girlfriend
Day job: Renewable Energy Consultant
How long have you been brewing?
As soon as I was legal, so about five years.
Have you ever worked in a brewery?’
What is your brewing philosophy?
To make the best beer possible and always push yourself. Once I get involved in a hobby, I jump right in and devour information. Homebrewing is no different. With every batch I make, I try to learn something new and challenge myself to try different techniques, recipes, equipment, etc. At the same time, I keep it relaxed and enjoyable. It’s a hobby, so it has to be fun.
What kind of brewing setup do you have?
I have a three-tier all grain system. No pumps, all gravity fed. I got pretty lucky with my set up. I built it while in college so kegs were readily available (heh). I did much of my senior research project at the university garage so I had access to tools like a plasma cutter, and my uncle is a professional welder so he took care of the fabrication. I absolutely love my system.
I wash my own yeast pretty often. Growing anything has been tough since I’ve moved often over the past five years. Once I think I’ll be in the same spot for a while, I’ll start growing hops.
What is your biggest brewing triumph?
I haven’t entered any competitions yet so there are no trophies on the mantle. Honestly I think the biggest triumph is when you give someone one of your homebrews and they say, “Wow, this is better than beer I buy in the store.”
Your biggest brewing failure?
All of the fallen soldiers. Early in my brewing career I suffered from a bad case of exploding bottle syndrome. I miss them dearly.
What are you drinking right now (or just drank or getting ready to drink)?
For commercial beers, a great blog reader sent me a bottle of Mikkeller’s 1000 IBU that I’m excited about. Also in my fridge is beer from Dry Dock, Cigar City, Black Raven, J.W. Lees, plus a bunch of other local Colorado beers. For homebrews, I did an American Ale month where I made Pale, Amber, and Brown Ales.
Besides your own brews, what are your favorite beers?
It’s very hard for me to pin down favorite individual beers, but at the moment Odell’s Bourbon Barrel Stout is up there. Also my picks in my beer bucket list email series are obviously favorites. My favorite beer styles are Double IPAs, Old Ales, and Berliner Weisses. Anything sour I usually love.
What are your goals for your brewing?
I’d like to develop a few really good house recipes that I can brew over and over again. I’d also like to start entering competitions and getting professional feedback on my beer, which should really help improve their quality. Above all else, just have fun and introduce more people to the hobby.
What is the most important piece of advice you can offer someone who is thinking about becoming a brewer?
Know that there isn’t one way to brew. Ask advice and you’ll get tons of different answers. Just be open-minded and see what works for you.
What has been the most useful resource for your brewing (book, website, store, mentor, etc.)?
My most useful resources are my collection of homebrewing books, most notably:
1. Designing Great Beers – Ray Daniels
2. Brewing Classic Styles – Jamil Zainascheff and John Palmer
3. How to Brew – John Palmer
And my daily resource, Homebrewtalk.com.
Anything else you want to add?
As a homebrewer and a beer blogger I’m in the unique position of not only learning about homebrewing but teaching about it. I’m amazed at how much you can learn from teaching, not just from the research but from the great readers that leave comments with their experiences. Point being, get involved in a homebrewing community, whether a club, as a blogger, or just as a blog reader. It’s a necessary piece to the homebrewing puzzle.
We appreciate Billy taking the time to tell us of his brewing experiences. If you are a craft or home brewer who would like to be featured on Road Trips for Beer – or know of one who might be interested – please drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org.