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Up next in our ongoing interview series is a man with drive and ambition to spare.  He comes to us from lovely Novato, CA.  When he's not out whipping someone into shape, he can probably be found whipping up his next batch of homebrew.  Let's give a warm cellar welcome for Mr. Alan Atha.  You can also find out more about Alan at his blog Beltane Brewing

Name:   Alan Atha
 
Day Job:  Personal Trainer/Cycling CoachPB050001
 
When did you start homebrewing?
I went full bore one year ago.
 
What got you into homebrewing? A person? An unfulfilled interest?  Sheer boredom?
I had the flu and was in bed reading a Savor Magazine.  It had a great article on the new Italian Brewing scene and I loved the article.  I then went onto the web to delve further into this particular topic, having been in the Piedmont area and only drinking wine!  I immediately went out and bought a used set up, 15 gal capacity with pumps for a HERMS build.  This set up came with a 14.5 Blickman fermenter and I was set up!
 
 
Do you belong to a homebrew club?  What is it?
Sonoma Beerocrats, Sonoma, CA
 
Where do you brew? Inside/oustide?
I currently brew in a two-car garage with the door wide open.
 
Where do you ferment?  Have you had to do anything creative to facilitate this?
I use my old laundry room as the fermenting room.  I have two refrigerators, one for housing carboys and temp control and the other is for 4 taps.
I can also adjust the room temperature somewhat if I need to bring the temps during fermentation up a little for a better attenuation.
 
Do you have a pet name for your homebrewing enterprise?  If so, can you give us a little background?
I am in the process of going nano+.  The name of the company is Beltane Brewing.  It comes from the Celtic calendar wheel, meaning the first of Spring or MayDay in our more modern times.
 
How large are your batches?
I brew 11 gallon batches.

What kind of equipment do you have?
I bought a used More Beer gravity system, 15gal capacity with Mash, Lauter and Boil kettles and put in a pump and hoses for a HERMS system.
I run the finished wort through a Thermenator into either the Blickman Fermenter or carboys, depending on the particular brew. If I use carboys, they are then put into one of the refrigerators for a controlled fermentation.  I then filter (yes, filter) and keg in 5 gal Corny kegs.  I am working on a project that will utilize my (2) 55 gal stainless tanks...lots of brewing for that one...Oud Bruin that I can take out what I want from the finished beer and then just add some fresh to keep the project going indefinately!
Are you fine with that or do you expect to upgrade to bigger and better?
I expect that I will be moving on from this setup.  At a minimum I will be purchasing a 1.5bblsystem, most likely the newest version of the Brew Magic that is currently in the building process.
All grain/Extract or both?
All grain except when I need to hit a gravity that doesn't come out as expected or when I need that additional boost.  I brew high gravity beers, mostly.
How many batches have you made this year?
I cannot tell you because Big Brother is watching!
Give us some examples and the names you picked out for them if you gave them a name.
Rumplestiltskin Double IPA, Black Moria Double Black IPA, Luminesce Triple, Paleo-Belgo Belgian Pale Ale.
Any bad batches?  Were you smited by the homebrewing gods?
For only brewing for one year, I am pretty happy with the lot I have been given.  One friend says I have 'mad skills' and another calls me Merlin.
I have already won a few awards with a couple of the above beers and also a BOS.Luminesce - Competion Winner
Brewing plans for next year?
I am working towards going pro by this time next year.
Any advice you'd like to give other homebrewers?
 Pick a recipe, any recipe (as long as you like that style).  Work it and work it so you own it and it is the best you can do.  Then, go and tackle another style.
I see too many homebrewers go from one batch to another and another without solving any problems they had with the original recipe.
Any closing thoughts?
This brewing thing is part science and part art.  I guess that is why I love it so much!  Learn the science and the art just may come around!

 

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