Name: Jamil Zainasheff
Brewery: Heretic Brewery
Years brewing professionally: 1
Years as a homebrewer: Started in 99’
Favorite beer: Heretic Evil Twin! or Flanders red for style
Interviewed by: David Wonder MoreBeer! Concord Showroom Manager
What drew you to homebrewing?
My neighbor Steve brought over a beer which tasted amazing and I asked where he got it and he said he made it. I shared this with my wife and she eventually bought me a Mr. Beer kit. My obsessive compulsive nature made me go crazy with it. I used Mr. Beer for one batch and wanted more. I ended up finding a place called R&R beer shop and then a place called The Original Homebrew Outlet. JJ Jackson at the Original Homebrew Outlet really helped me out. I ended up brewing all the time; sometimes 5-6 times a week. I would take a break during the summer.
What were some of the things that advanced your homebrewing, or made your beer better?
Temperature controlled fermentation, liquid yeast and the right pitching rate ie starters
What is the single best tip you were given as a homebrewer?
Use the right yeast for the right beer
Knowing what you know now, what advice do you have for new, or experienced brewers alike?
Always brew using the full boil method, pitch the right amount of yeast and always use temperature controlled fermentation. If you follow these three simple things you will make great beer.
How long have you been using our sculpture?
Why did you choose a MoreBeer! Brewsculpture?
I ended up trading my software programming experience that I used at Adobe to help build MoreBeer! their first website. They traded me a BrewSculpture for my time (actually three BrewSculptures over a course of five years.)
What is your favorite aspect of your brewsculpture?
High Temp March pumps made it a lot easier to reproduce my recipes. Consistency is key in the brew house.
What sticks out out as the best batch you've brewed to date on your sculpture?
My doppelbock which got a 49 and 48 at the National Homebrew Competition. I got great feedback from people that I really respect like Joe Foremanack. I also received 1st place in every category at the NHC along with a dozen best in shows when I competed for the California Homebrewer of the year award. I was trying to get a "best in show" in every beer style category but got involved with the brewing network, writing books, and articles in magazines.
Do you use your sculpture for test batches, pilot batches, primary production, small unique beer production?
Not specifically but I have brewed a few test batches for the Heretic Brewery.
How many batches do you estimate you have brewed on your BrewScultpure?
Around 300 on all sculptures combined
What is your favorite hop this year?
Apollo, also Columbus but I have found that it really matters where you get the columbus from.
What is your favorite yeast?
West Yorkshire yeast from wyeast. Its a great top cropper. I have found that the yeast will create such a network in the Krauzen. The yeast will have finish fermentation and drop out but the krauzen will stay on top. Fascinating!.
Is Brewing more Art or Science?
Hard to say. I would say 50/50 but if I had to lean one way I would lean towards science.
Every homebrewer has a crazy/bad/interesting brew day story, we're curious; whats yours?
It was the first brew after taking the summer off and I I always check my hoses and pumps. I hooked everything up and pumped hot water through all the lines to make sure everything was cleared out. Then while I was actually brewing a black window come out one of the hoses! I also found magots in one of my kegs. It had lost pressure but had been sealed and pressurized so I have no idea how the flies got inside. The smell of death came out the kegs when I opened it. I wrote an article on this... not sure which article...
Did you have a mentor?
JJ jackson at The Original Homebrew Outlet. He really helped me out in the beginning and got me into judging competitions and got me into pitching liquid yeast. But a lot of my success and who I am today is from having the MoreBeer! guys as friends.
Why do you brew?
Creativity and I love to cook. Its a great creative outlet where you can share what you make with others that appreciate what you are making.
If there is one other brewer you wanted to collaborate with who would it be/who do you admire?
There are many that I admire such as Matt Brynildson, Mitch Steel, Vinnie Cilurzo, Matt Cole at Fat head and many more. If I had to pick one it would be Matt Brynildson. I have a man crush on him and I would learn so much from him. I have already learned a lot from Matt.
What has been the biggest hurdle that you have overcome on your way to being a pro brewer?
The business part is what is hard. Managing the distribution, brew schedule, sales calls take a lot of work. The fact that you get to brew once in a while is awesome but the rest of the time you are running a business.
What is the worse day you had brewing?
The first brew at Heretic. It took 22.5 hours and the floor drains would not work! We were collecting water in buckets!