Winner Profile: A short biography of the winning brewer, frequently including tips on homebrewing.

Jeff Landers
2018 Midwest Homebrewer of the Year
Midwest Homebrewer of the Year Winner Photo

I am a Civil Engineer living in the Chicagoland suburbs. I brewed my first batch sometime in the late 90’s. I started brewing back then because there was a homebrew store next to the office building where I worked. I was curious, so I stopped in and bought a kit. My first batch was an oatmeal stout that turned into a bunch of bottle bombs that exploded all over the closet in my tiny apartment.Due to all the problems with my first batches, it took me almost 15 years to brew again.I started again over 4th of July weekend in 2013 and just kept going. In 2015, I entered my first homebrew contest at Drunk Monk and also stewarded the contest. I won a gold for my Scottish 70 and I was hooked.In May 2017, I was already up to my 100th batch (an Eisbock).

I built my first brewing system out of spare lumber and set up a tiered system to brew in the garage. On sunny days, I would set it up next to the camper so I could use the awning to shield my brew and my wife would complain that it looked like something out of Breaking Bad.So she "made me" upgrade my system.

Now I'm on my 3rd brewing rig. I brew on a 3 tier commercial made aluminum stand with 3 stainless steel 15 gal kettles with 3 burners. I use propane and still brew in my garage. I built a HERMS system and I fly sparge all batches except for the occasional session British beer. For small British beers, I batch sparge. I step mash, or occasionally decoct, all of my German and most of my Belgian beers. For American beers, I do single infusion with a mash out. I mainly brew 5 gallon batches and I have been brewing about 35 batches a year.

My favorite style to brew is any style that I have never brewed or I go back to brewing German Lagers. I don’t brew IPA’s very often, but if I am at a bar or a brewery, I almost always order an IPA. I don’t usually buy commercial beer, instead I primarily drink my homebrew. My wife and neighbors are always willing taste testers.

I am a member of 3 homebrew clubs, Club Wort, Chicago Homebrewers Group (CHBG), and Urban Knaves of Grain (UKG). I joined Club Wort a few months after I started brewing again and Club Wort encouraged to me to start entering competitions. I joined CHBG a few years later. CHBG has a great Facebook site with over 2000 Chicagoland homebrewers that have taught me a lot. I joined UKG a few years ago in order to get more into competitions. Besides the normal monthly meeting, UKG also has a once a month technical session and a social night. One of the guys teaches a yearly BJCP class which helped me become a certified beer judge. I have been judging close to 10 competitions a year.

I need to thank my 2 kids Emily and Tommy for helping me bottle all of the beer for competitions. I also need to thank my wife, Lynn, for understanding that if FedEx delivers new brewing equipment and supplies when she isn’t home, it never happened. Also, thanks to FedEx for only delivering when Lynn is at the gym!

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