Black Creek Beer Expert Milan is a man of many talents. When he’s not conducting tours and tastings in the brewery, he can often be found trying his hands at historic trades from printing to leather-working. And when he’s not at Black Creek, he’s still a beer expert – after joining the brewery team, Milan has become a burgeoning home-brewer.
We caught up in the Harness-Maker’s Shop recently to chat about his brews. It’s a cozy little space, especially with the woodstove burning away. “So, Milan,” I said, leaning on the counter, pen poised above my notebook. “Tell me about your beer…”
It’s largely a creative outlet, Milan explains. “And it gives me access to whatever styles I want.” Indeed, he’s done everything from oatmeal stouts to pale ales to pumpkin beers (made with real pumpkin, just like Black Creek!). But while an in-house brewery sounds like a dream, surely it’s beyond the reach of the average person with an average (or smaller-than-average) living space?
Not necessarily, Milan says.
“For small batches, you can just use pots and pans that you already have. If you’re going bigger, there are a few start-up costs—getting the equipment and everything—but then it’s actually pretty cheap.”
How much beer does Milan make?
“Four gallons. I built my mash tun from scratch.”
When I point out that Milan has garnered quite a reputation for elaborate costumes and props made from scratch, he laughs. “I guess so, yeah. I like making things and working with my hands.”
I decide not to mention that he’s stitching leather while talking to me. The poetic justice is too great.
“Working with Ed is great too; I can ask him questions along the way. Things like what temperature is best for specific yeasts…he has a very finely tuned process.” He pauses, sunlight catching in his hair. “Ed is a wealth of knowledge. And he’s always happy to share it.”
Indeed, our adult apprentices know this very well. I inquire whether he thinks our apprenticeship program would help people just getting into home-brewing. Milan ponders.
“As Beer Experts, we learn a lot from watching Ed work. But so many key things happen before we arrive—the mash, for example. Seeing every step would’ve helped a lot; I made some mistakes at first.”
But Ed was able to help?
When asked whether he has any tips for other beginning brewers, Milan suggests purchasing a beer-making starter kit. “It’s a good way to try it out.” And of course, coming to chat with Ed and our Beer Experts, right here at the Black Creek Brewery!
Until next time!