While today may be a normal day to most, it marks the 15th anniversary of Muncie native, Chris Ingermann’s, first brew. Chris won Best of Show Homebrew honors at the 2011 Indiana State Fair Brewers Cup with his Vienna Lager, but this is only part of his Brewers Cup history. He has entered the Brewers Cup since 1999 and would have been Indiana Home Brewer of the Year in 2001, 2002 and 2004, had the award been around. Upon the awards creation, Chris was within a point or two of the winner in 2008 and 2009. Chris is the epitome of quiet but mighty. He doesn’t brag and he rarely talks, but his brewing expertise speaks volumes. After some convincing, Anita from Great Fermentations recently sat down with Chris to talk with him about his brewing experience.
Anita: Chris, what inspired you to start home brewing?
Chris: I was drinking a lot of Samuel Adams beers and whatever craft or import beers I would happen to find. I loved Rogue’s St. Rogue Red. After a year or so of drinking craft and imported beers, it just occurred to me that I should try to brew my own beer. So in the spring of 1997 I started saving bottles, reading everything I could on brewing and planning my attack. I finally brewed my first batch on August 9th 1997. It was an extract mild ale with some specialty grains. My 8th batch on January 31, 1998 was my first all-grain batch.
Anita: What keeps you brewing?
Chris: The love of brewing. I love the process as much, if not more than the final product. I love the creativity of coming up with the recipe and putting together the process to make it work. I am one of those brewers that does not drink and brew. I wait until after the wort is in the fermenter before opening a beer. Some brew days I don’t even have one beer the whole day.
Anita: Would you like to talk about your perfectionism?
Chris: I don’t know what you mean ; )
Does dumping more than one perfectly good 5 gallon batch of beer, because it didn’t hit the mark I was shooting for, make me a perfectionist? Maybe it has something to do with my German heritage?
Anita: Your Best of Show beer was a Vienna Lager. Would you like to share your recipe with readers?
Chris: Sure, here are the details: Vienna Lager, 6 gallons
73.2% Vienna malt
19.6% Munich malt
1.2% Pale chocolate
22 IBUS German noble hop at 60 minutes
Use soft water and a lager yeast
Mash at 150-152F
Anita: Do you have any advice for other home brewers?
Chris: Read anything and everything you can on brewing. Get to know your equipment and different ingredients. And finally, take good notes on everything.
Anita: Do you have a favorite brewing tool or ingredient?
Chris: I don’t have an elaborate setup; I don’t even have a pump. So of the few tools I have, my favorite is my refractometer. It is easy to use, easy to clean and you don’t need a large sample to use it.
One of my favorite ingredients is honey malt. Use it correctly and it gives a nice malty complexity to the beer. Use it incorrectly and the beer can become cloying.
Anita: Every year Broad Ripple Brewpub invites the Brewers Cup Brew Best of Show home brew winner to brew their award-winning recipe at the Brewpub. What was it like to brew your Vienna Lager there?
Chris: It was kickass. Literally like brewing on a large scale home brew setup. I enjoyed the whole day from start to finish: from helping move bags of grain upstairs to the mill to cleaning out the mash tun and carting barrels of spent grain outside. I have never been too much into the Best of Show award. I’ve always liked the Ninkasi and Home Brewer of the Year type of awards that reward brewers who can brew many styles well. Brewing at Broad Ripple Brewpub makes me want to win another BOS just to hang out and brew with Kevin Matalucci again.
Big time hats off to Chris today for his anniversary and his 2011 Brewers Cup honors. Join the local brewing community in raising a toast to Chris at Broad Ripple Brewpubs’ tapping of Chris’ Vienna Lager on Saturday August 25 at 3pm.