Turning the Tables: A Brewers Profile of A + K by Jim Thoms


Brewers Profile of Alicia & Kevin (aka: A+K) by Jim Thoms

Appeared in the September 2014 B.E.E.R. Newsletter


Alicia and Kevin joined B.E.E.R. just over 2 years ago and have become two of the most active members, organizing and participating in all sorts of club activities; truly the Dynamic Duo. Kevin was elected club VP last November. This is the first time I’ve profiled two member brewers at once.

JT: When did you start brewing?
A+K: The first time we ever brewed was a stovetop kit from Brooklyn Brew Shop. It was supposed to be some sort of IPA and though it didn’t really taste like one, it was still pretty enjoyable. They didn’t really list that we needed a straining/filtering device so that was a bit crazy and they also didn’t list at that time on the box that you needed a large pot. It was a full mash 1 gallon batch. It turned out lighter and fruitier than an IPA and with lots of natural carbonation. Weird experiment.
After attending a few meetings of both B.E.E.R. and L.I.B.M.E, we decided we wanted to try again on a bigger scale and brewed with Frank Filacchione. The first beer we brewed with Frank was a Rauchbier which was November or maybe December 2012 and was served at the 2013 RPAB Cask Fest. The beer ending up getting a little sour in the cask (perhaps a little lacto snuck in) but it tasted pretty good to us, or Kevin at least.
From there we went on to brew with a few other club members before finally purchasing some equipment and setting up our own garage mini brewery. It was through brewing with these other members that we learned the many different ways you can brew a beer. Our beers are still “not to style” though (screw the BJCP).
JT: That’s the longest answer I ever got to that question—and I’ve done 50 of these interviews in more than 13 years—but I love it!

JT: What were the circumstances that got you started brewing?
A: I thought, “Hey, Kevin likes beer. It would be fun to get him a homebrew kit for Christmas.” Little did I know what I would be starting.
K: I think this is pretty accurate. To me though it more seemed a gift we could enjoy together. Since we like cooking and spending time together it was cool to try out. Maybe the results weren’t what we hoped for but looking back it was all a lot of fun. Thank you Alicia (you have made a prison of your own choosing).

JT: What kind of brewing do you do?
A: We tend to not brew to style much but enjoy tweaking recipes and adding our own ingredients in. We currently have a few fermenters all filled with beer, cider and assorted fruits.
K: We have a BIAB [Brew In A Bag] system if you want to call it that. We have brewed on several other systems as well with all our brewing collaborators. Matt Bollerman has a gravity system which was a lot of fun. Frank also used a gravity system at first but then received a Blichmann “tippy dump” set up from Rick Sobotka. We also had the chance to brew with Andrew Luberto on his converted keggle rig and with Bobby on his gravity brew house. Wow, we brewed with a lot of excellent brewers and even better people.
We decided to go with the BIAB set up because it is both cost and space effective. BIAB is a process we still need to work at and fine tune but we have enjoyed our results. Plus we always enjoy adding herbs, fruits, vegetables and spices to our beers so our products are always in flux. I like the simplicity of our set up and the freedom to do what we like with the beer afterward. If we enjoy it or are giving it away at an event then there are no rules right?
A: I seem to have misunderstood the question but am sticking with my answer.

JT: No, that’s OK. What’s your favorite style of beer?
A: I am a porter or stout woman.
K: Hey Alicia, what about hefeweizen? Alicia was never really into beer and at first I gave her ligther beers to try (hefeweizen, fruit beers, etc) but nothing was to her liking. Eventually though she tried a darker beer and enjoyed the bolder flavors. Once she realized a beer could taste like chocolate and coffee it was over for her.
A: Well, Kevin and I attended an Oktoberfest at Finley’s years ago. The only beer options were light or dark and since I wasn’t much of a beer person I went light. Up until this point, Kevin had been giving me hefeweizens and other lighter options but I never really found one that I enjoyed much. True to form, I didn’t really like the light beer that day and when it came time to order a second mug I figured I’d roll the dice and go dark. Oddly, I really enjoyed it and from there I went on to discover I really enjoy porters and stouts. My beer drinking seems to have come full circle though, as I do now like a nice hefeweizen in the summer.
K: Jeez go on and on about it why don’t you? I really like trying everything. It’s interesting to see the diversity and variations of flavor that are available. If I had to pick one style though, it would probably be farmhouse ales (since it is fairly broad).

JT: What’s your favorite commercial beer?
A: North Coast Old Rasputin or Green Flash Double Stout. Founders Porter if I’m going with a more “sessionable” option.
K: Mine is probably Russian River Blind Pig or The Bruery Saison de Lente.

JT: Do you have a recipe you’d like to share?
A+K: We have really enjoyed “brewing” ciders over the past year or so. To plug our site a bit, you can find our guide to brewing a basic cider on www.beerlovescompany.com [Hey, that’s this website and here is the guide]

[I did and I highly recommend this blog/website to anyone reading this newsletter. Not just for the basic guide to making cider, but more so for all the other interesting stories A+K post about the craft and homebrew scene on Long Island, including one about the “Dynamic Brewmaster Duo of DJ Swanson and Joe Hayes” teaming up at Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, which is expanding to a new facility in nearby Peconic; plus many other articles relevant to our local beer culture including a touching tribute to B.E.E.R. member Ed Hahn, who will be missed by us all. (I hope the link above works in this PDF, if not, check it out any way you can.]

JT: Any biographical info you’d like to share (talk freely about yourselves)?
A: Kevin really enjoys drinking beer, making beer, comic books, Japan, the Islanders.
K: Alicia loves the TV show “The Life & Times of Tim” and Marc Jacobs. She tolerates beer but likes vodka (blueberry to be precise).

JT: Hmmm. OK moving on: Any comments or suggestions you have regarding the club?
A: Let’s get some activities going. It would be great to have brew days outside of meetings where people can get together and brew a few club beers together while showing newer members how to homebrew.
K: We would suggest the club branch out from the things we have been doing currently and that more suggestions from our membership should be taken.

JT: Well, with your enthusiasm, energy and team spirit I’m sure you two can bring those ideas to fruition. Thanks for the interview.

A+K: Our pleasure, Cheers!


Written by A+K

December 1st, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Leave a Reply