LongShot American Homebrew Contest: Introducing Russ Brunner’s American Stout

Russ Brunner_DeanWe recently released our 2013 LongShot 6-pack and wanted to take the opportunity to share the stories of the homebrewers that brewed the winning beers. Russ Brunner, brewer of this year’s American Stout, tells us how a little friendly competition and a desire to create a stout his wife would enjoy led him to brew a winning beer.

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

A: I’ve been homebrewing for just over three years now. Belgian style beers are actually what got me interested in brewing. I couldn’t believe the flavors that could come from such basic ingredients and I wanted to try it out for myself.

Q: Do you have a particular style that is your go-to homebrew?

A: I don’t have a particular style – I’m all over the board. Right now, I have a few different styles in my kegerator: an IPA, an English Mild, a Robust Porter, and a Belgian quad.

Q: Tell us about your brew, Russ Brunner’s American Stout.

A: Gary Fuller, the president my homebrew club, is always killing it with stouts – I wanted to take an opportunity to see if I could brew as well as him. I initially brewed it for a local competition, where I placed second (Gary placed first).

I also wanted to brew a stout that my wife would enjoy – a stout that was more approachable and that had more chocolate flavors and less astringent flavors. It has enough hops to offset the sweetness, but not enough to make it really bitter.

Q: This was the first recipe you created on your own. What were the most rewarding and the most challenging aspects of creating your own recipe?

A: It was nice to step away and not use any pre-conceived grain bill or hop additions and just try different techniques that I had read about.

I almost never re-brew the same recipe – this beer I brewed one time and one time only. There are a lot of homebrewers who will brew the same recipe over and over and change one tiny variable – I can’t do that. I get tired of drinking the same beer over and over.

Q: You recently had the opportunity to visit us at the Boston Brewery.  What did you take away from that experience?

A: I thought I knew a lot about brewing – but this experience showed me that there’s still more to learn. I do a lot of research, but seeing a larger brewing system made me feel like a newbie again.

I love everything about beer. I love the ingredients, the process, and the people involved, which was reinforced for me at the brewery. I’m hoping to pursue it professionally and be fully involved in brewing within the next 3-5 years.  I know Bob Gordash of Gordash Brewing Co. is a former LongShot winner who has gone on to brew professionally – he’s a great local guy!

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

A: Educate yourself as much as possible and don’t take someone’s advice at face value.  Put your knowledge into practice and figure out what works best for you.

Q: What’s your favorite Samuel Adams beer?

A: Double Bock – I like the complexity and the malitness, and you get a bit of sweetness from the higher alcohol level.

Are you ready to take your shot at becoming a homebrew legend? Our 2014 LongShot American Homebrew Contest has launched! Learn more.

  • Ben Kalota

    Russ, from one homebrewer to another, your stout is awesome, I prefer imperial stouts but I could be a regular with yours. I recommend Sam Adams get rid of their Cream Stout and use your recipe. Wouldn’t mind having it myself. Hope you are planning on entering the GABF, that beer deserves the gold.