Words by Skyla Patton | Photo by Michael Davies

Are you a beer enthusiast? Tired of having to pick only from the selection in stores? It’s time to roll up your sleeves and become more than just the drinker of beers — homebrewing is calling your name. Homebrewing is an ancient art form that has regained popularity in recent years. We sat down with experienced homebrewer, Jason Carriere, co-owner of Falling Sky Brewing to get an inside scoop on what goes into the art of homebrewing.

Question: When did you first start home brewing?

Answer: I first started in 2000, when I was living in California and working with The Human Genome project at Stanford.

Q: What inspired you to start (a person, event, beer)?

A: I think I’ve definitely been a beer enthusiast in terms of wanting to try new beers and working in the sciences. Researching it on the internet I realized it was utilizing everything I knew from the sciences and very similar to what I was doing in the lab, except the end product was beer instead of data.

Q: What competitions have you entered since being a home brewer? What drinks have won awards?

A: I’m now on the side of organizing and judging home brewing competitions. In my early years, I entered KLCC Brewfest and the Corvallis Heart of The Valley competition a few times. I have a Koreander Rye and a Chuck Pillsner that won an award. I would say I have a lot of beer knowledge, but I don’t consider myself a master of the artistic side of brewing.

Q: Do you have a favorite brew you’ve made? If so, why is it your favorite?

A: Probably a couple that I made in the lead up to Falling Sky that have become the bases for some of our IPAs, like Reckless Abandon IPA. It’s one that I made when I first decided to sort of take the plunge.

Q: Try and summarize the home brew process. How does it happen, what happens next?

A: I would start by saying that home brewing can be anywhere on a spectrum, depending on where you choose to meet it. There are people that have home systems that are better than commercial breweries, and differ only in size. Then there are people with Mr.Beer Kits, no boiling required, which for home brewing is not something I would recommend. But, basically, the main style we teach is the hybrid. You use sugar syrup that’s made from malt to simplify the process. You have a little bag with crushed greens, get some water to 150 or 160 degrees and soak it for twenty minutes and then stir it with the sugar syrup. Then bring that to a boil for an hour, and that boil period will depend on what kind of beer you’re making and when you add the hops in. The cooling process for an ale then is about 65 to 70 degrees, and for lager it’s 35 or 45 degrees, depending. It can ferment for ten to fourteen days. Brewing can be a lot of waiting, but it’s also super labor intensive if you bottle all on your own. When you get a kegging system it’s like you become a whole new brewer.

Q: Do you have any tips for people interested in trying it themselves?

A: Probably the most important thing you can do for your beer is invest money in the cooling process. The faster you can do that, the better. Again, it can be as simple or as complex as you want it, so meet it wherever you’re comfortable and then you can slide up and down the scale as you like. There’s a lot of different ways you can home brew.

Q: What are your favorite styles to brew?

A: I would definitely do all grain, but I started brewing back in the day because there were a lot of beers that just weren’t available in the market. Home brewers have always been on the front of experimentation and innovation, and that trickles into the craft brewing world.

Q: If you could sit down with one person (alive or dead) and ask them brewing questions, who would it be?

A: Probably Dan Keery, the brewmaster at New Glarus in Wisconsin. They do a lot of traditional and experimental brews, I’ve heard him speak before and he’s extremely knowledgeable.

Q: Do you have any suggestions for individuals who have never entered KLCC Brewfest competitions before but are thinking about it?

A: I think KLCC Brewfest is the number one way that homebrewers can improve their beer. You can bring it to your friends and they’ll either say it’s good or it’s not, but you don’t get any input on why. The judge panel is all professional brewers or experienced home brewers, they’re certified on what they’re talking about. You can’t fix the problem if you don’t know what it is, so KLCC is a great way to put in what you’ve made and find out what in your process is off. It’s the best of the best helping you improve your craft.