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Chris Smith

Where are you from? - Minneapolis

What is your favorite brewing topic to talk to customers about? - Mash Efficiency and Lager brewing

What was your biggest brewing blunder? - Trying to pump un-dissolved liquid malt extract through my pump

What movie have you watched the most times? - Star Wars Episode 4

What was your proudest moment in your fermentation history?  - Achieving Master Level BJCP

Why do you brew? - For the love of beer!

When did you start brewing? - 1996

What is your brewing system? - I have a 10 gallon set-up with a 15 gallon mash tun and boil kettle.  I have a single pump with a counterflow chiller and use a gravity fed cooler as my HLT.  

What is your favorite style of beer for drinking and for brewing? - Most things German and Belgian in style but Hefeweizen is my favorite.

If you could share a beer with anyone throughout history, of even fictional, who would it be? - Homer Simpson

Where do you spend your non-brewing time? - When I'm not brewing I like to fish, travel to great beer destinations, judge beer competitions.

Who are your three favorite musicians/bands? - U2, Interpol, & Elvis Costello


Read Chris' Short Pour Article: 

Making Hard Cider


Chris Smith is one of our many Brewmasters committed to helping you brew your best. He has won numerous awards for his expertly crafted libations, most recently, 3 blue ribbons won in the Minnesota State Fair brewing competition in the Pilsner, German Wheat & Rye Beer and Strong Ale categories as part of the Northern Brewers Fermentation Brigade. His mead took second in its category at the highly competitive National Homebrew Competition.

Here’s what Chris has to say about his award-winning Mead: “This was the third time I’ve made this mead and not much has changed from the initial attempt. It lingers somewhere between a sweet dessert wine and a bold, off-dry white with tons of body. Light carbonation helped to lighten the sweetness and brighten up the mead. The Gewurztraminer grape - with it’s complex and distinctive perfume, and fruity aroma and flavor - makes for a wonderful pairing with the lightly fruity orange blossom honey. The juice came from the northern California grape region and was sourced through a cooperative homebrew club buy. This mead placed in a competition after only 3 months and was only about 8 months old when it won in the final round of Nationals.”  

Chris has been so kind as to share his award-winning recipe with all of us. 

Mead Recipe

6 gallons Gewurztraminer juice 
12# Orange Blossom Honey
1 gallon water
2 packs Lalvin 71b-1122
2 tsp Yeast Energizer
1 tsp Nutriferm Advance
12 g Nutriferm Energy

Small Batch Recipe

1 can Alexander’s Gewurztraminer 46 oz
6# Orange Blossom Honey
.5 gallon water
1 pack Lalvin 71b-1122
1 tsp Yeast Energizer
.5 tspNutriferm Advance
6 g Nutriferm Energy


Rehydrate yeast with 12g nutriferm energy and 2 oz of water at 104F for 15-20 minutes. Just before pitching stir to combine yeast and nutrient/water mixture.

Add honey and grape juice to fermentor, rinsing the honey bottle with a small amount of water heated to about 160F. Stir to combine thoroughly. Add water until Specific gravity reaches about 1.120-1.125.

Mix the yeast energizer and Nutriferm Advance together and add ¼ of the mixture to the must and reserve the rest for later additions. Aerate and pitch yeast.

24 hours after pitching yeast add another ¼ of the nutrient mixture and stir vigorously in order to degas the CO2 and aerate the mead. Repeat this process at hour 48 and 72.

Fermentation should last somewhere between 10-14 days and should be transferred to secondary before 21 days. The finishing gravity should be in the neighborhood of 1.020-1.035. Once the mead clears it can be bottled as is or stabilized with potassium sorbate and sweetened with more honey or wine conditioner to the desired sweetness level. If the sweetness level is too high you can blend with dry mead or wine to balance out the sweetness. Acid additions or light carbonation will also cut down on the perceived sweetness level.

This mead was only about 8 months old when it won in the final round of Nationals but also placed in competition after only 3 months.