Monday, February 5, 2007

Good Better Best

Bud Usinowicz is an English teacher. Nouns and verbs. Subjects and predicates, not math predicaments.

Until recently.

You see, Bud’s also a homebrewer (a pastime he took up 10 years ago), and last August he made a bit of a splash with his entry in the homebrew competition at the New Jersey State Fair in Sussex County. To the judges’ taste buds, there was none better than Bud’s Some’s Better Double IPA (7% ABV).

Bud’s reward for his zymurgistic efforts and best-in-show win: a tap handle at Krogh’s Restaurant & Brew Pub (the sponsor of the homebrew contest), a onetime chance to brew his beer for the masses. And sometime soon, you can treat yourself to a pint of Bud’s best amid the log cabin-like atmosphere at Krogh’s (in Sparta, in rural Sussex County, the place in New Jersey where you can probably find a bear as easily as a beer).

So here’s the mathematical problem Bud faced: His Some’s Better recipe, crafted from picking up brewer tips and secrets here and there, is great for 5 gallons, enough to entertain a gang of his buds watching the NCAA finals in his den. But Krogh’s brewing system is 5 barrels, a capacity more suitable for keeping bar patrons happy.

Since 1 barrel equals 31 gallons, Bud’s recipe was about 150 gallons shy of the 1,200 or so pints Krogh’s system can stand up on the bar. So how do you make that backyard 5 gallons become a thirst-quenching 155, without losing what the judges felt made your brew better than all the rest?

Enter David Cooper, the brewer at Krogh’s. With Cooper’s help, Bud solved for X and scaled up his Some’s Better recipe, mashing in with 455 pounds of malted barley for his commercial brew debut. That was late January. After some dry-hopping (what’s an India Pale Ale without some serious hopping?), Bud says, Some’s Better is expected to take its place at Krogh’s bar in late February. If you’re lucky, Bud might give you a caw, er, call.

And if you love big beers that echo hops, Some’s Better will probably be worth the wait.