Another homebrewer joins the ranks of those mercilessly grilled while in the Comfy Computer Chair of Fame. Well, mercilessly might be a strong word for it. Ok, he answered some questions about homebrewing and did a fine job of that. Our newest homebrew interviewee got his start in homebrewing not too long ago, but dove right into it and has been pretty successful in his few short years of brewing. Please welcome to the site, a small batch homebrewer from NYC, Mr. Nick Ladd.
Name: Nick Ladd
Day Job: I do a lot of things. My education is in architecture and I do work in that field. I also run a web‐based piece of software which I designed and manage.
When did you start homebrewing?
What got you into homebrewing? A person? An unfulfilled interest? Sheer boredom?
I had a healthy love for craft beer prior to brewing. My personality is also inclined towards the creative arts paired with a healthy dose of analytical thinking. Brewing fits my personality perfectly. I’m also very involved with cooking, baking, and other fermented foods. I have two friends that are brewers and introduced me to the hobby.
Do you belong to a homebrew club? What is it?
My main club which I used to be more active in is called the Homebrewers Guild of Seattle Proper (I recently relocated from Seattle to NYC). It is a purposively small club (capped at 8 individuals) of very dedicated and extremely talented brewers whose main pursuit is to spur each other on through brewing, collaboration, and experimentation to be the best brewers we can. As a club we did commercial beer collaborations (we own several barrels at a local commercial brewery), as well as various other barrel projects on our own. One of the brewers has gone on to run a successful craftbrewery, and the club has been very competitive in national brewing competitions. Last June, the club ranked 6th in the Homebrew Club of the Year competition ‐ pretty astonishing considering our size. Currently I have been attending New York Homebrewers Guild meetings and plan to become an active member there.
Where do you brew? Inside/outside?
In the kitchen.
Where do you ferment? Have you had to do anything creative to facilitate this?
I used to ferment in an ice cube cooler with water bath. I now use a temperature controlled mini‐fridge.
How large are your batches?
I used to brew 5‐gallon batches. I am now planning on switching to 1‐2.5 gallon batches to accommodate a smaller brewery footprint.
What kind of equipment do you have?
This is a pretty good run‐down of my brewery: Brewing In a Small Place
Are you fine with that or do you expect to upgrade to bigger and better?
I have no desire to increase volume. I enjoy brewing often, and already make more than I consume. More precise mash control would be good.
What are your favorite styles to brew?
I’ve brewed nearly every style, but enjoy wild beers, lagers, and high‐alcohol beers because of the challenge brewing them represents.
How many batches have you made this year?
Probably about 30.
Any bad batches? Were you smited by the homebrewing gods?
Anyone who says they haven’t had a bad batch is either a liar, has a poor palate, or hasn’t brewed enough. I’ve had a few dumpers. One that stands out was my second extract batch where I decided to make a very high gravity imperial stout. I miss‐measured my volume by over a gallon and ended up with a very high gravity batch (1.130). It never fermented completely and was cloyingly sweet.
Brewing plans for the future?
I’m currently rebuilding my home brewery to better match my current living situation. I’ll likely start a commercial brewery in the next 5‐years.
Plans on entering any competitions this year?
I am taking the year off of competitive brewing. I had 10 beers in the second round of NHC last year and it was a lot of work!
Any awards from past competitions?
Yeah… lots. Highlights are here: The Pour Report - About Me
Any advice you'd like to give other homebrewers?
Focus on quality fermentations. That is where most beers get screwed up. Sanitation, yeast management, and temperature control are the most important things to have a solid grasp of if you want to make good beer.
*** Personal ***
Favorite domestic beer?
Tough question. Depends on my mood. Session‐wise, I enjoy Chuckanut’s Helles. Kern River Brewing Citra is a great higher alcohol beer. Too many great craft beers happening right now to make a list!
Favorite imported beer?
Orval, Cantillon (all of them), Saison Dupont, Rochefort 12