Community Beer Works will be opening in a few short months. We’ve been blogging weekly for a year and a half, but the people behind the beer may still be a mystery to many of you. To remedy that, Mondays will now feature a brief Q&A and profile of an owner of the brewery. Feel free to ask any other questions you have in the comments!
This week: Rudy Watkins, Head Brewer.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I dig on music, beer & striking visual representations of data.
What does a Space Ranger Head Brewer actually do?
Oh, you know. I design & implement recipes, test new ingredients, wrangle yeast, move heavy stuff, make things work and generally talk to myself a whole bunch. One time I had to remove a rabid bat from the jaws of my dog about halfway through a brewday. Hopefully that was a one time thing.
How did you get involved in the CBW gang?
I had seen Ethan around town at a few beer events. One night at Goodbar I saw him wearing a “Mogwai are tremendous” t-shirt. I affirmed his shirt’s statement & a friendship was born. We worked together on the Buffalo Homebrew Collective project and while that never got off the ground it ended up morphing into CBW.
What started you down the rabbit hole that is good beer?
The first beers I remember being passionate about were Saranac Black Forest, Victory Hop Devil and Dogfish Head 90 Minute (back when it was bottle conditioned & in 750ml bottles. Mmmmm.) I’m not really sure how I came to that point. I would guess it was through mix packs of things like Saranac. Mostly though I used to love gin.
What really got me, lets say obsessed, with beer was joining RateBeer in 2003. I geek out on databases & ratebeer allowed me access to so much information. I took serious advantage of it on a few late 2003 trips I made to Cleveland for Twilight Singers and Firewater shows. I came back with some beauties, including Founders Imperial Stout, Three Floyd’s Dreadnaught and Stone Ruination. This was back when double IPAs and Imperial Stouts were few and far between & we wore onions on our belts. Those beers totally opened my eyes to what was possible. And oh man, do you remember Stille Nacht back when De Dolle used to get Rodenbach’s yeast. Mmmmm.
The first beer I brewed was pretty bad. Kinda like Goya Malta, but… well, actually, just like Goya Malta. I don’t know that it really fermented at all. It must have, because the bottles didn’t explode after carbonating, but man, was it sweet. I stuck with it though and found my beers getting better and better. Its still rare that I’m 100% happy with how something turns out – but hey, what would the point be if I wasn’t always striving to make improvements?
Duff’s or Anchor Bar?
Anything else we should know about you? Any parting words of wisdom?
There are far too many ceilings in my apartment that need to be re-painted as a result of over zealous fermentations.
See also: Ethan Cox, President & Main Instigator; Dan Conley, Information Manager; Greg Patterson-Tanski, Architect Extraordinaire
Hi there, do you use fresh hops in your brews or pelletized? What’s your favorite type of hops to use?
We use both leaf hops and pellets, depending. For bittering, pellets are preferred. For aroma and flavor additions, can go either way. And we try to stick with leaf for dry hopping.
We like lots of hops, but I would say right now we’re most jazzed about the flavorful new varietals coming out of Australia and New Zealand as well as new releases from the US industry. And, we’re planning on using NYS hops as much as we can and contributing to the revival of our native industry.