You want to make beer at home, so you buy a homebrew kit, concoct a killer recipe, brew it, package it, then freak out a little bit. “Whoa, why is this not good?” Next, you join a homebrew club, brew some more, and maybe get good at it . . . so good that you enter your beer into competition, and if you’re lucky enough, you win.
Aaron Vieira’s and Thien Le’s beers went on to win at the National Homebrewers Competition (part of HomebrewCon), and the Costa Mesa-based club they both belong to, the OC Mash Ups, couldn’t be prouder. I sat down with both and sampled their wares.
OC WEEKLY: How long have you brewed?
AARON VIEIRA: Six and a half years.
THIEN LE: Just over two.
What kind of beer did you make for the competition?
VIEIRA: An American pale ale with Citra, Mosaic and Centennial hops called Lost Art.
LE: A Bourdain/travel-inspired milk stout with toasted coconut and pandan. Pandan is a leaf that is used in Southeast Asia for desserts and various foods. I called [the brew] Parts Unknown.
What does pandan taste like on its own?
LE: It tastes sort of nutty and has a sweet aroma that is similar to vanilla.
Where do you buy your ingredients/gear?
VIEIRA: I buy nearly everything at Windsor Homebrew Supply Co. It’s critical to support your local shop so they can continue to provide awesome ingredients and great advice to help grow the hobby.
LE: Same, at Windsor. The pandan I used was grown by my mother in her back yard.
Do either of you want to become professional brewers?
LE: I wouldn’t mind working in a brewery to learn.
VIEIRA: Pros are working themselves to the bone, and I’ve got crazy respect for them, but I’m going to stay on the sidelines and drink for the foreseeable future.
Greg Nagel has been writing about beer since 2011, is an avid homebrewer of wine, cider, and beer, is a certified Cicerone Beer Server, level 1 WSET in Wine, a podcaster with the Four Brewers Show, and runs a yearly beer festival called Firkfest happening this June!