Welcome to Cascades Homebrew! I launched this site in March 2021 with a few articles focused on 2.5-gallon stovetop BIAB brewing. I have slowly been creating content for this site and my YouTube channel. Be sure to check as I build out the content with brewing articles, recipes and results.
What makes Cascades Homebrew Different?
I realize there is no dearth of information on homebrewing today. There are so many great discussion forums, websites, YouTube channels, and social media platforms. You can find answers to most questions with an Internet search. Plus, there are a number of quality and well written books on homebrewing. Do you need yet another resource?
Like most people, 2020 shook up my daily routine. That combined with children reaching college age and some questions about my employment forced me to look inside myself. I realized that homebrewing was more than a hobby of mine or something that I did to fill time, but that it was a true passion to me.
As an experienced homebrewer, I felt like the creation of Cascades Homebrew would give me a way to share some of my knowledge. It would be a way to share information that is more through and thought out than can be done on a forum; a way to share some of my brewing experiments beyond my homebrew club members. It would also keep me motivated to brew and give me a chance to learn myself.
The goal of Cascades Homebrew is to focus on topics that I understand and where I feel I might be able to bring a different perspective. I will probably blog about some brew days and share some recipes, but my initial goals are to focus on:
- Digging into brewing ingredients and processes through research, experiments and iterative brewing. This is something I have termed Investigative Brewing.
- Sharing some of my techniques, processes and experience on topics like Brew in a Bag (BIAB) brewing, 2.5 gallon BIAB, yeast harvesting, fermentation, etc.
- Going beyond cut and paste recipes. Instead I will dig into beer styles and discuss the options for building a beer that fits your preferences and learning how to adopt a recipe to your equipment and process.
Who is Cascades Brewer?
My real name is Brent. I grew up in Michigan, which has not always been a beer hot spot! Currently, I live in Northern Virginia. I have been brewing beer at home for over 25 years (since 1993), and I am still learning with every batch.
For some history: In 1992 I took off a semester from college to attend an internship at Argonne National Labs in the far suburbs of Chicago. I met a guy named Russ that introduced me to the idea of good beer (mostly imports at the time). I also met my friend Rob and my future ex-wife there. Goose Island’s brewpub was my first real exposure to quality American craft beers.
I returned back to college and my tastes shifted from Busch to options like Pete’s Wicked Ale and Honey Brown. On a tour of the Frankenmuth Brewery I picked up a book titled “Better Beer & How to Brew It” by M.R. Reese. I still have that book today.
Wow! I could brew my own beer?!? As luck would have it a guy at work was interested in brewing and a homebrew shop named Yukon Gold popped up in the middle of nowhere on my commute route between Mount Pleasant and Midland. I got my first kit, and with books from Charlie Papazian and Dave Miller I jumped in.
I brewed my first batch of beer on July 7, 1993. My brewing notebook still has my notes from that first brew day. It was a 3.3 lb can of John Bull hopped extract, 6 1/2 cups of sugar, 1/2 oz of Fuggles, and some unknown package of yeast. My notes say the OG was 1.028 and FG was 1.002, for a 3.4% beer. For some reason many of my original batches were very low ABV. I suspect that batch was not all that great, but I guess something made me stick with it.
“This is good. Tastes like Mickey’s”Mark (former college roommate, referring to Mickey’s Malt Liquor)
I brewed several batches of extract, moving up to steeping grains and creating my own recipes. My notes show I brewed a batch of all-grain in September 1995; at least 25 batches in. It must not have blown my socks off, as my next few batches were extract based.
I eventually moved on to all grain brewing using a crude 3 vessel system and moved off the stove top to a propane burner. At first my kettles were a cheap 5 gallon stainless steel pot and a large enamelware kettle. I would mash in the enamelware kettle, sparge in an insulated bucket with a false bottom, heat sparge water in the 5 gallon kettle, and boil back in the enamelware kettle. Eventually I replaced the enamelware kettle with a quality, but basic, 10 gallon kettle.
In the mean time I moved around the country a few times. I spent a few years in the Redmond and Bellevue areas outside of Seattle Washington. Man I enjoyed the beer scene there, even back in 1998. In 1999 I moved to Northern Virginia where I still call home.
When in Washington, I attended meetings of the Cascade Brewers Guild. In Virgina I have been a long time member of the Wort Hogs, as well as Homebrewers of Western Loudoun (HOWL), and NOVA Homebrew.
These days my brew day is based around the same 10 gallon kettle and propane burner, though I ditched the bucket for full volume mash BIAB. I do a mix of 5 gallon and 2.5 gallon batches. I keg most of my beers and I am using an old hand-me-down fridge that the prior owner painted black.
Why the name Cascades Brewer?
It is a combination of a number of factors.
First is the ever popular Cascade hop. After many batches of beer using small amounts of hops like East Kent Goldings, Fuggles and Willamette, Cascade was an entry into American style beers. An all Cascade Pale Ale has been a favorite brew for many years.
For many, Cascades evokes thoughts of the Cascade Mountains, so Cascades is a tie back to my time living in the state of Washington and my days as a member of the Cascade Brewers Guild.
Then finally, for the past many years I have lived in the Cascades community in Virginia very close to Cascades Parkway. So Cascades Brewer and Cascades Homebrew seemed to fit me.