Name: Jeffrey Craig
Day Job: Sales manager for Verizon
Side Hustle: Let’s Have Some Beer Show
When did you start home-brewing? September of 2016
Readers: meet Jeff Craig, an avid Star Wars fan-boy who loves craft beer, supports local breweries and dares to dream big when experimenting with homebrews. We sat down with Jeff at Native Son Alehouse to chat and sample some of his Star Wars inspired brews.
AMK: When did your love for craft beer begin?
JC: I never tried a craft beer until I entered college. It all started with Sierra Nevada. A friend brought some over to a BBQ one weekend and I was instantly hooked. But it wasn’t until years later that I learned exactly what craft beer was. As my love for craft beer grew, so did my thirst for knowledge.
AMK: Who inspires you most in the Star Wars Universe?
JC: When it comes to inspiration, it has to be Luke. Sure he has a bad wrap for complaining all the time, but if you look at his journey, it is truly inspiring. He was raised as a poor farm boy who never knew his parents. Suddenly, he gets thrown into this crazy journey where he must conquer his fears, face his father, save the galaxy, and bring balance to the force. Luke was given an impossible task, but he never gave up. That is what inspired the name of my homebrews and this whole adventure. “Red 5, I’m going in.”
AMK: What inspired your first homebrew? What was it? What specialty ingredients did you use?
JC: My first homebrew was Poe Dameron’s Pumpkin Ale. It was close to Halloween and I knew I had to take advantage of it (Halloween is my favorite holiday by the way). I chose Poe because he is one of my favorite new characters (The Force Awakens) and his counterpart BB-8 totally reminds me of a pumpkin. For the pumpkin ale, I used a red ale malt build with Amarillo and chinook hops. For vegetal pumpkin flavor, I bought fresh pie pumpkins, baked them in the oven and used the meat in the boil. In secondary fermentation, I added spices to enhance the pumpkin flavor on the back end.
AMK: What tips do you have for an aspiring home-brewer?
JC: Dare to be bold. Don’t play it safe. When we challenge ourselves, we learn, we grow, we evolve. Mistakes are inevitable, but that is no reason to quit. I cannot believe how much I’ve learned about brewing in such a short amount of time. Trust in the process.
Do your research ahead of time; YouTube has been a great resource for me when it comes to developing my homebrewing skills. If an unknown arises, the answer is usually out there on the interwebs somewhere. Join a homebrew community. It is a great way to learn and share ideas with others. It is a support system and a source of inspiration.
Be patient. Time is such a crucial component in the brewing process. When the process is rushed, mistakes are made. When time is utilized effectively, the beer shows it.
Sanitize. Sanitize. Sanitize. Brewing is hard work. It would be a travesty to put in all that labor only to realize your beer is ruined because you didn’t sanitize correctly.
Have fun. As homebrewers, we get to create the world’s most popular beverage and share it with others. It’s hard work, but it’s so rewarding.
AMK: What’s your process when you’re planning a new recipe?
JC: I look mostly to my friends, craft beer community, and cravings for inspiration. If someone reaches out and wants me to brew a beer style, I go for it. If I see a popular beer style I haven’t made before, I go for it. Most of the time, the ideas develop organically through conversation and a couple of beers.
The last beer I completed is a NEIPA. This beer style has been extremely popular and I wanted to take a swing at it. They are bottle conditioning as we speak and I cannot WAIT to try it.
AMK: Where do you source your ingredients from?
JC: I buy all my ingredients locally from a brew supply shop called O’Shea’s in San Clemente. They have been a godsend for me in my homebrewing journey. O’Shea’s has not only supplied me with great ingredients, but has also offered an endless amount of knowledge and support. They have been the Han to my Luke.
AMK: Favorite beer and food pairing?
JC: There is nothing I enjoy more than a big juicy burger with a fresh crisp West Coast IPA. Damn that sounds good right now. *Drooling noises*
AMK: Who shot first, Han Solo or Greedo?
JC: Any OG Star Wars fan knows the answer to this one, but a scoundrel never shoots and tells. . .
AMK: Favorite Character in the Star Wars universe?
JC: Of course it has to be the galaxy’s favorite scruffy looking nerf herder, Han Solo. He’s cocky, brave, witty, romantic, adventurous, and just an all around badass. He’s such a likable character too. He would be a great person to sit down with at the cantina, have a couple beers and swap stories with. It also doesn’t hurt that he made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs.
AMK: What do you remember most strongly about the first time you saw Star Wars?
JC: The trench run scene, for sure. Man that blew my mind as a kid. The massive space station, the x-wing and tie fighter battle, Luke firing those torpedos at just the right moment. My heart was racing throughout that whole scene, it still does. I just remember thinking,”Wow! I want to do that. I want to do the impossible.”