Russ “Shutterfly” Olp

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I’ve always had an interest in finding more flavor-full beers. (Anyone remember Stroh’s Dark?  Only one bar in Platteville carried it.)  The first real microbrew I remember drinking was in the early 90’s after the Underground Tour in Seattle.  Steam Ale.

In 2001, after moving back to Wisconsin, I received a homebrew starter kit from my wonderful wife.  She thought I needed a hobby.  And she found out that the same equipment could be used for wine (she doesn’t drink beer).  Since then, I’ve made 34 batches of beer, 9 batches of mead, and 50 different wines.  That’s a lot of fermentation in my basement. 

Starting with extract kits, I quickly moved to adjusting recipes and developing my own combinations.  But it took 10 years to take the next big step.  In 2012 I moved to all-grain, adopting the Brew-In-A-Bag method.  With this step I started reading and learning a bit more and my beers are now more consistent and a little better.   Participating with the Manty Malters has given me e a place grow and learn from the vast experience of the other members.

The selection and combination of various ingredients are key to a good beer.  Then you run through the process which may vary with different styles.  Wine is much simpler.  No mash; no boil.  Just put the juice or fruit in the bucket with sugar.  The quality of wine is all in the grape (or fruit).  There’s still room for craftsmanship in winemaking but if you use good fruit you’ll get good wine.  I still enjoy making it nearly as much as beer.

My wife and I raised three great boys, homeschooling them through high school graduation.  (Fermentation can be a great science lesson.)  My other interests include building rockets, leading a 4-H club, serving at my church, the Packers and photography.  With all of that, much of my brewing focus is on being time efficient.  I’ve settled on Brew-In-A-Bag because it uses less equipment and can result in a shorter brew day.  I keg rather than bottle because moving the beer into one large container rather than 60 small containers is less time.

I also like to find ways to combine my hobbies, and love creating bottle labels from the photographs I’ve taken.   A few of samples are around this page.  I hope you enjoy them.

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