Cat Ballou

Where are you from?
I grew up in Maine, and while I miss it, I’ve fallen in love with the Minnesota climate, culture, (and beer).

What is your favorite brewing topic to talk to customers about?
I’m torn between yeast and books. I love chatting with folks about the latest research and product development from White Labs, and recommending solid literary references for people looking for a more organized resource than digging through forums online.

What was your biggest brewing blunder?
I clogged the pump on our system here in the store, failed to notice until a while after it occurred, failed to turn off the heat while attempting to get things running again, and succeeded in cooking my mash to 180 degrees. The end result is sitting in the basement with a smorgasbord of bacteria working on it, as it was undrinkable otherwise.

What movie have you watched the most times?
The Fifth Element – I’m a huge science fiction nerd, and who doesn’t like Bruce Willis?

What was your proudest moment in your fermentation history?
Pulling a sample out of the Saison I made with the White Labs Farmhouse Blend, and having it taste like rainbows instead of autolysis and horse blanket.

Why do you brew?
It’s a fascinating combination of art and science – I get to be hands on as well as going in depth with theory. There’s no end to how much you can learn in the field.

When did you start brewing?
I started brewing 3 years ago in Arizona when my significant other was pressed for time but interested in the hobby, and asked me to do the research. I haven’t stopped since.

What is your brewing system?
At home I have the Fermenter’s Favorites 10 gallon cooler setup with a Dark Star burner. Most of the time, though, I use the setup here in the store – a three tier Blichmann system with all the bells and whistles.

What is your favorite style of beer for drinking and for brewing?
It’s difficult to pick a favorite, but at the moment I’d have to say Saison. I love the room for interpretation, the wide variety of appropriate yeasts, and the spicy character of the beer overall.

If you could share a beer with anyone throughout history, even fictional, who would it be?
Terry Pratchett, with Nikolai Tesla as a close second.

Where do you spend your non-brewing time?
I tend to spend it playing video games at home, climbing at Vertical Endeavors, or visiting the many excellent breweries in the area.

Who are your three favorite musicians/bands?

alt-J, Tom Waits, and Spoon are all top contenders right now.

NB-Brewmaster-Cat-Ballou