Jason “Just Some Random Guy” Johnson
As far as my personal life goes, I am married to Jessica Johnson (a wonderful massage therapist) and we have 2 boys ages 6 and 1. We live right here in Manitowoc. To pay the bills, I am a Senior IS technician. Aside from brewing, I enjoy cooking. I do low and slow BBQ and Grilling mostly. But I understand if you came here to read this, you are probably more interested finding out about my hobby. Brewing and drinking beer.
I started to become interested in craft beer back in 1995, when I turned 21. Up until that point the definition of beer for me was either my dad’s beer which was Miller Lite, or whatever beer I could get my hands on…usually Busch Light. If I got some Budweiser I thought I was really getting something special. It was not until I met a new co-worker who introduced me to yard glasses of Hacker Pschorr Weisse at Kurtz’s Pub that my eyes were open to various flavors beer had to offer (Yards of beer still have a special place in my heart). Shortly after this, a friend of mine said “Hey, I heard you can make your own beer. We should look into that”, so we did. I thought it appeared to be a lot of work so we dropped the idea. Then my wife bought me my first homebrew kit for Christmas a few years later. It was all downhill from there. I wonder if she regrets that decision to this day.
I joined the Manty Malters back when Marc Mecca reformed the group sometime in the early to mid-2000’s. I’m not exactly sure of the year it was reformed. Since then, I have served at the club President for 2 years and currently have taken on the role of the webmaster for our little webpage. I enjoy my time with the Malters because quite honestly, there are some good friendships to be made and I love to hear about other people’s processes and their way of making beer. Aside from a few key fundamentals, there are many ways to make good beer, both with extract and all-grain and I really enjoy hearing what others are doing. It really gets under my skin when people say one way of brewing is better than another, because that is simply not true. If it was, people winning awards would all be doing the same exact process, and every professional brewery would be doing things exactly the same. And we know that because of interviews done on the Brewing Network, none of the top breweries in the nation are doing things exactly the same. Ok, I will end my mini-rant now.
Shortly after I started brewing I started to develop my own recipes. That appealed to me a lot more than using existing recipes. I liked the idea of making my own craft beer personalized to my taste. Once I felt my beer was getting fairly good, I thought I’d enter into competition and ended up winning a medal. Well, that peaked my interest in what being a beer judge would be all about. So I contacted the BJCP to find out about stewarding a competition, and they pointed me in the direction of the Green Bay Rackers. Instead of attending a competition, I ended up enrolling in the BJCP prep course along with fellow Malter member David Taylor. I should also note, this is also when I converted from an extract brewer to an All Grain brewer; during the BJCP prep course. Well, I ended up taking the exam and passing with a score good enough to earn the rank of Certified Beer Judge, today I hold the rank of National. Whenever they hold a new prep course, I try to head up to Green Bay to help teach others who are interested in becoming judges. I am also teaching our clubs BJCP Prep course starting in May 2014.
I also like to write about beer, which you can probably tell from the length of this bio already. I currently have my own blog www.barleypopmaker.info which I enjoy doing when I have time. It was fun to watch my blog grow from a few dozen hits a month, to now I get an average of 5,000 readers a month and an average of 25,000 total hits. Most visitors are coming for the experience I have with home roasting grains of which I have a few posts on the subject. I have also written a short book on the topic which is for sale on Amazon. I also completed another book project which focuses on troubleshooting and fixing problems in homebrew called “Troubleshooting Homebrew“.
As far as the types of beers I most like to brew, I really like to brew American Styles (Pale Ale and IPA), but have recently started to move more into the witbier range. I have brewed 4 varieties over the past year, each was finished off very quickly (one was served at the Jaycee’s Brewfest, it was a black wit). I have won some awards for my beer ranging from 1st through 3rd place and also a silver certificate at the NHC. But don’t let that fool you; I have had my share of beers that fell short of what I was shooting for as well. But that’s comes with the territory when you are developing your own recipes. You just make changes, and move on.
For commercial beers, I really like New Glarus. I may not like every beer they brew, but I think most of their offerings are solid and very well brewed. I would say they are my favorite commercial brewer. My favorite brewpub would easily be Titletown brewery in Green Bay. I also really enjoy seeking out beers I cannot normally find, and I tend to hoard them for that special occasion. I can’t say one particular beer or style is my favorite, because there are such great beers for so many occasions.