Graduate students, electrical engineering
Russian Imperial Stout
Ingredients: Pale malt, roasted barley, flaked barley, black patent malt, chocolate malt, crystal 80 malt, Centennial hops

It took a “big beer” to be crowned this year’s big winner.

“I think the thing people notice most is that it’s a really big beer,” David Fick said of his group’s victorious Russian Imperial Stout. “It’s around 10 percent alcohol … It’s thick, it has like a roasted flavor to it, a chocolaty flavor.”

The recipe’s warm reception at the Ann Arbor Brewers Guild’s monthly meetings also included a second place at one of the Guild’s “Brews Crews” competitions, according to Fick.

“Ours in particular is very smooth, I think that’s why people like it,” Fick said. “It’s just like a very smooth, chocolaty flavor.”

The four group members all work at the Michigan Integrated Circuits Lab on North Campus. Fick credits fellow graduate student Nick Collins with not only cementing the stout’s recipe, but also with teaching his three co-workers the craft of home brewing last November.

The group makes sure to experiment with new brews while also sticking to old favorites.

“We’ve done a wide variety I think already, so we’re trying on different things,” Fick said. “Some things we like coming back to.”

Though Fick and his partners have 27 batches to their name, he claims they approached The Michigan Daily’s third annual home brewing competition with a level head.

“You can’t be too confident,” Fick said. “We thought we had a 10 or 20 percent chance (of winning).”

Graduate student, chemical biology
Soulless — Irish Red Ale
Ingredients: Caramel 40L, Special B, roasted barley, steeped specialty grain, Gold Liquid Malt Extract, Cascade Pellets, Fuggles Pellets, ginger root, White Labs Irish Ale yeast, wildflower honey

It wasn’t his pineapple hefeweizen, nor was it his traditional mead.

Instead, it was Matthew Waugh’s Irish Red Ale that notched second place honors — a brew he considered least likely to win, noting disappointment with its beginnings.

“I wasn’t happy with how it turned out when I initially made it because it was very malt light,” Waugh said. “It didn’t have as much malt in it. It wasn’t the alcohol concentration that I wanted.”

Waugh’s recipe, loosely inspired by a home brewing kit, included his own custom touches like integrating ginger into the ale.

The final brew marked a significantly “mellowed” product with a “spicy, effervescent aftertaste,” Waugh said.

“It was getting on a month and a half, two months old, and so the flavor profile had changed a couple different times,” Waugh said. “I guess it was because I was used to how it was initially when it was very, very strong … I guess it turned out pretty well.”

Waugh, who has been homebrewing for eight months, appreciates the beer-making process for its practical academic application.

“I really enjoy it, because for me it’s a really good way to combine my professional and personal lives,” he said. “It’s using biochemistry in my everyday life.”

Graduate student, microbiology and immunology
Maibock — Bock
Ingredients: German pilsner malt, flaked barley, caramunich, caravienna, Belgian biscuit, liberty hops, Irish moss, Wyeast Hella Bock

When Aimee Richard submitted her maibock lager, she didn’t have victory on her mind.

“I didn’t think (the maibock) was that great, but I wanted more feedback on it than anything,” she said. “I really didn’t think it had any shot at placing whatsoever.”

But with a third place finish, Richard — a three-year brewing veteran with an alleged 25 batches under her belt — exceeded personal expectations and continued her streak of collegiate brewing success, having won the Daily’s homebrewing competition last year with her first place, “Dog Days of Summer” whitbier.

Richard described the maibock, brewed last March, as a “clean and crisp” lager. She utilizes an “all grain” method that extends the overall length of the brewing process.

“Bocks are generally pretty malt focused, but the maibock is the most hoppy of that particular group of styles,” Richard said. “I generally like to brew maibocks because I think they’re a really good balance of a good malt profile, backbone.”

Given her recent triumphs, Richard’s enthusiasm on the prospects of professional brewing is not surprising.

“Maybe down the line, sometime in the future, it’d be great to get into the brewing industry somehow,” Richard said. “Whether it’s owning a brewery and being the head brewer or in some other capacity too.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *