He's not one to brag.. but this longtime Club member is one of our most decorated brewers and a former HAMS President. Meet Mike Wood!
What’s your day job?
When did you start homebrewing?
When did you join HAMS?
What got you into brewing?
I tasted a Mr. Beer brew made by my son's friend and decided to give it a try. I started with a Mr. Beer Kit, but what fascinated me about brewing was the science so I quickly moved to all grain. I wanted to understand and master the fundamentals of brewing.
Where do you like to brew?
On my lanai next to the pool under cover.
Where do you ferment?
I have 2 refrigerators with temp controllers for lagers and temp controlled ales. I have a window A/C unit in my “Beer Room” and try to keep the temperature at 68-70 F so that I can ferment mead and ales.
What size batches do you brew?
Five gallons works best for me for beer and 1,2 or 3 gallons for mead. I always end up with more beer and mead than I can drink.
What kind of equipment do you use? Love it? Hate it?
My stainless mash-tun was made for me by Booth Brewing in Tampa (no longer in business). I made the chiller out of 100 feet of copper tubing. Everything else is “off the shelf”. I prefer glass or stainless equipment since it doesn't interfere with any of the processes and is easy to keep clean and sanitary. I batch sparge so no pumps, recirculation or automation. A few years ago someone got a supply of Red Bull Syrup. He bought a bunch of corney kegs, carbonated the Red Bull and sold it to bars in St. Petersburg. Red Bull shut him down so he had a lot of kegs to sell and I bought 10. My system is a fairly simple and hands on, that's why I like it..
Do you have a “pet name” for your setup?
Favorite styles to brew? Why?
For me a beer should be “easy drinking” with delicate and subtle flavors. So I tend to prefer the traditional English Ales and German Lagers. Light Lagers are more challenging and also more rewarding.
Some might call me a purist. I try to practice Organic, Reinheitsgebot brewing. When I first started brewing, Organic Malts and Hops were hard to come by. Often, I had to roast my own specialty and caramel malts. Later Seven Bridges Coop offered many different organic malts and hops online. They even sponsored Organic Beer competitions. Unfortunately, they went out of business last year and now I'm having trouble getting ingredients again.
Tell me about your best batch ever.
The Schwartzbier Lager. The recipe and equipment that I have makes a “true to style” beer when I pay attention and brew it properly. I won several Gold Metals in various competitions and a 1st runner-up “Best of Show” at the Best Florida Beer Competition with this beer.
How about your worst?
Too many to list. Once, I got an infection in my brewery. I dumped a lot of beer and had to deep clean and sanitize everything. I threw away and replaced all the tubing and equipment that could not be easily cleaned.
Advise to other/new Homebrewers?
For new Homebrewers:
Technology - I use the BeerSmith 2 Software and I think a brewing software is helpful.
Equipment – Simple works for me. Carbonation is, I think more important than automation so an investment in kegging will have more payback than HERMS.
Process – It's all about CONTROL
1] Quality and Quantity (Ingredients) 2] Time (Mash , Boil, Fermentation) 3] Temperature (Mash, Fermentation) 4] Sanitation (Everything)
Feedback - I think that every brewer likes to get feedback. Enter competitions and find someone who knows more about brewing than you do who can help you grow.
Experiment – If you want to find out what happens when you add asparagus or infections to your brew, go ahead!
Craftsmanship – If you would like to master the craft try brewing beers that are “true to style”. See if you can brew BJCP styles that “hit the numbers” (OG, FG, ABV, SRM, IBU) and profile (aroma, appearance, flavor, mouthfeel). If this interests you, Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer published a book called ”Brewing Classic Styles”. It gives specific recipes and brewing tips for most styles in the Beer Judge Certification Program Style Guidelines.
For other Homebrewers: Enjoy the hobby.