Mike Malinowski of Massillon is an award-winning homebrewer. Last year, he won the Society of Akron Area Zymurgists’ annual Wizard of SAAZ homebrewing contest and had his beer brewed by The Brew Kettle in Strongsville for the Great American Beer Festival Pro-Am Competition. This year? He won the local event again and his American IPA is being made by Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. in Akron to be included in this year's GABF Pro-Am. Called Alpha Male, it also will be available at Thirsty Dog and at select area restaurants.
Question: Why did you become a homebrewer?
Answer: I was stationed in Germany and really grew accustomed to the quality of beers in Europe. At the time, you could not get beers like that in the states and I started pursuing it in the late '80s. With school and work, I didn’t get going with it until about five or six years ago.
Q: What’s the single-most important tip you can give someone who is just starting out with homebrewing?
A: Always ask questions. There are many people out there who have been doing this for a long time and everyone is very helpful. There is a wealth of knowledge in local homebrew clubs tap into it.
Q: Do you have any aspirations of opening your own brewery one day? Why or why not?
A: Yes. I would like to have something small, maybe a nanobrewery. I figure I have been giving away my beer for a while now and I might as well start getting something in return, even if it just pays for expenses.
Q: This will be the second year that you have a beer entered in the Pro-Am competition at the Great American Beer Festival. What’s that experience like?
A: It is really an amazing experience. Having a brewers pass allows you to mingle and meet all of the others brewers across the country as well as attend some really nice parties. You also get to see what others breweries are doing and it also gives you a chance to ask a lot of questions on ingredients, techniques, and systems. Professional brewerers are just as helpful as homebrewers since that is where a lot of them started out as well.
Q: Which beer -- any beer in the world -- do you with you created/brewed and why?
A: The beer I wish I invented would be Pliny the Elder. To be at the beginning of the West Coast style of IPAs and pushing the limits to who can add the most hops and still make it taste great would have been really fun. I think we are catching up in the past few years with our great local brewers around Northeast Ohio. Plus I think it would be great to have come up with a beer that has been voted best beer on the planet for multiple years.