January Featured Brewer
Each month we feature one of our brewers. This month, our featured brewer is Lou Ruscetta. Lou is one of Red Earth's newer members, but he is very seasoned as a brewer. You should definitely try to get a chance to have his Rauchbier (German Smoked Lager). Here is a little more about Lou and his craft beverage journey.
Occupation: Senior Materiel Leader, B-52; Colonel, USAF
Home Brewery Name: Brew Love
Years Brewing: 16 yrs total; 4 yrs All grain
What are your favorite styles to brew? Smoked beers; hazy/fruity IPAs
What got you into brewing? My dad was a Chief Master Sergeant in the Air Force. After he retired, he worked for Busch Gardens and Anheuser-Busch in Tampa. Between growing up and playing rugby in college, beer was a big part of my life and identity. When I was a Lt, dad bought me a Mr. Beer kit when craft beers were starting to get popular—but if it wasn’t Bud or Bud Light, he couldn’t drink it. I slowly advanced from there trying to design my own recipes with extracts. While in War College, a close friend and brewing partner introduced me to BIAB (Brew In A Bag) brewing and recipe designs. From there, we made it a goal to start our own brewery. I advanced to a 3 barrel, single tier system to better understand advanced processes to prepare for an eventual transition to pro-scale systems once I retire. Currently enrolled in eCornell Brewing Certificate program to learn more about the science behind brewing and gain knowledge on all aspects, ingredients, and processes.
Current Brewing Rig: Single tier, 3 barrel system with RIMS; 7 gal and 14 gal unitank fermenter with glycol chiller
What Brew Day Rules do you follow?
No drinking until Mash is 30 min in and any problems overcome
Must wear my Cigar City Brew Shirt—it’s my lucky shirt
Organization of equipment is key (learned this after paired brewing project with Tim Bickel)
Most influential brewing tip you learned: Don’t make brew day stressful—something will go wrong during brew day—best way to react is to be organized and prepared. I used to overreact and lack of organization led to more problems and stress. I learned that when a problem does occur, take a moment—analyze the problem, the causes, then potential solutions. Unless liquid is pouring on the floor, there is time to think before acting.
Your tip for new brewers just getting started: learn your process and make a brew day checklist—and follow it! Extract, BIAB and Sparge system brewers can all make great beer. If you’re not getting paid to make beer, then it needs to be fun. For me, I have a passion to keep making my beers better. But everyone needs to find their own passion.
What’s on tap at your brew house right now: Märzen for the adults, Root Beer for the kids; a DIPA and an Oatmeal Stout in the fermenter.
Near term brewing goals:
Earn a BJCP judge certification
Finish eCornell Brewing Certificate program
Buy a Red Earth Brewers shirt when the club gets more (hint)