Meet Michal Plümer, a home brewer and brewmaster with a passion for experimenting and sharing her craft with friends and family. In this interview, Michal shares her journey from novice to brewmaster, her love for brewing sour beers, and her advice for anyone interested in getting started with home brewing. She also talks about his recent experience brewing the All-Grain Belgian Blond kit at Braumarkt and gives some tips for those who want to try it out themselves.
- When I was working at BREWCOMER, the local craft beer store in Kiel, I met many home brewers. I understood that I needed to know more about beer in order to describe it. It all came together, because I took a deep dive into the topic and the process is a part of it. Since my aunt had been brewing at home for a couple of years at that time, she invited me to join her. So, I can honestly say that my aunt taught me to brew. I then started to make beer with my friend and colleague Scottie. We have been using my kitchen or at times a shared brewing space.
What's your favorite beer style to brew, and what makes it special for you?
-We mostly brew sour beers. Our Kieler Weisse, an interpretation of classic Berliner Weisse, is the most brewed beer in my kitchen. The easiest way to experiment is brewing a bigger batch and splitting it in equal parts. One part stays “clean”, one is dry hopped and the last one is fermented with some fruit.
Do you involve friends and family in your brewing hobby, and have you ever collaborated with other brewers on a batch of beer?
-I have always brewed with friends or family. For me personally, it’s a social activity: You plan the beer, you talk about the ingredients and debate what it’s supposed to taste like. Then you start brewing, you eat, you drink, you talk. I don’t like to be alone with the kettle – a kitchen is a communal space for me.
What advice would you give to someone who's interested in getting started with home brewing?
-Just do it. When I started brewing, I was worrying about everything. I thought I would mess it up. And I thought, I needed a lot of (expensive) equipment. One of my favorite brewers said I should just start and experiment – and have fun with it. Until now I work with a cooking pot because you must understand the process.
Last week you were brewing the All-Grain Belgian Blond kit at Braumarkt have you brewed this recipe before?
-No, never. I mostly like tart and fruity beers. But brewing it was fun, although I was worried about all the sugar. Other than that, the process is the same.
Can you describe the brewing process for this kit, and were there any challenges you encountered along the way?
-The fun thing about brewing is that it gets easier once you have grasped the general concept. For beginners it is easier to brew with a recipe – and the steps in the manual were easy to follow. The trickiest part for me always is the lautering, when you try to get all the sugar out of the grain. But luckily, the batch is small and it is impossible to do it alone if you want to.
Can you tell me about your fermentation process for this beer, and how did you determine when it was ready to bottle?
-Normally, after brewing, I always have a little new roommate: the fermentation bucket is in the living room making its gurgling sounds. This time, for logistical reasons, I had to leave the wort at Braumarkt and someone else pitched the yeast. I felt really weird the day after brewing, because I think the part after pitching the yeast is very interesting.
Have you tried the finished beer yet, and if so, what are your impressions of it?
-I haven’t and I’m very curious.
How does this beer compare to other Belgian Blondes you've brewed or tried, and what sets it apart from other beers you've made?
-I made it. That’s, after all, the best thing about brewing: tasting your own beer. And it’s always special. I am very critical with everything I do, but in the end, I’m always proud that I made beer. After all, you have to wait a couple of weeks to try it!
What advice would you give to someone who's considering brewing an all-grain Belgian Blond kit for the first time?
-Other than reading the (very good) instructions before you start the same thing, I would tell someone before brewing any beer: Just go ahead and have fun doing it. And brew the beers that you like the most because you will have a lot of it eventually – but there will always be people around.