LongShot American Homebrew Contest: Introducing Cesar Marron’s Grätzer

Cesar Maron_DeanIn the last post of the 2013 LongShot series, we catch up with our final winner Cesar Marron who tells us about how a wedding favor changed the course of his life and his current mission of starting a successful nano brewery in his town of Evanston, IL.

Q: How long have you been a homebrewer? How did you get into it?

A: A little over four years now. I went to a wedding and the favor was a homebrewed IPA. I had never heard of homebrewing and was inspired to find out that you could make beer at home.  I  wanted to prove to myself that I could brew a great beer. My wife soon bought me a brew kit and since then there has almost never been a two week period that’s gone by when I don’t brew a beer.

Q: A Grätzer is a very unique style – what inspired you to brew it for your LongShot submission?

A: I was inspired by the history of Grätzers. They have been brewed in Poland for 500 years or so, and there is an active community of homebrewers in Poland who to this day brew with the recipe that originated in the 1800s.

Q: What does it taste like?

A: It’s a wheat beer made with smoked wheat. It’s made with smoked wheat because the process to kiln the malt 150 years ago was always over a fire. The locals used whatever wood sources were available to them and in Poland, it was oak. Oak provides a high heat and clean smoke – it’s a dryer smoked flavor that has a sort of sweet flavor to it as well.

I also used Saaz hops, which provides herbal notes and a spicy flavor.

Q: What was your reaction to being one of the winners of the LongShot competition?

A: I submitted my beer to Sam Adams to get feedback – I didn’t really think the beer would get selected! Not because it isn’t good, but because I was up against top competition and the beer style is really unique.

Q: How do you see this impacting your future brewing plans?

A: It has already!  I started looking into going pro last year – right around the time I had submitted to the LongShot competition. Winning LongShot gave me a boost of confidence to do it, and gave me credibility in the community.

I’m in the process of opening a nano brewery in Evanston, IL called Sketchbook Brewing Company. Right now we are running a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to purchase two jacketed stainless steel fermenters. We actually met our $15,000 goal within the first week of the campaign, and have upped our goal to $25,000 to help support our sustainability initiatives.

Q: Do you have any advice for homebrewers who are just starting out?

A: One piece of advice I would give is to not view the purpose of homebrewing as only to win competitions – homebrewing is experimental, it is to help people understand where ingredients come from.

That being said, don’t be afraid to submit your beers to competitions. The feedback that you’ll get from judges can be invaluable. You can get great feedback that will cement what you did right or learn how to improve the style that you’re brewing.

Do you have a homebrew that you’re proud of? Interested in having it made available nationally in next year’s LongShot pack? Submit your homebrew here.