Brian Giebel: The Amateur Professional

Brian Giebel the Amateur Professional

We met up with self-proclaimed “professional amateur” brewer Brian Giebel early one morning at the BrickHouse Brewery, while staff was busy zesting limes for an upcoming brew day of Lima Libre. Meanwhile, Flying Dutchman IPA, a beer Giebel collaborated on, is on tap right alongside the other BrickHouse staples. Though Giebel is still technically a homebrewer, this isn’t the first time his beer has been served at a Long Island brewery.

Giebel, who holds a Ph.D in chemistry, has homebrewing down to a science. The result has been several award winning beers, some of which have been produced commercially. His beers are a true labor of love; Giebel checks the fermentation temperature up to five times a day. “I obsess over them like children,” he says.

His success led him to approach Arthur Zimmerman, head brewer of BrickHouse, for some hands on experience on a larger scale. “They were more than willing to take me on,” says Giebel. He helped them out with general tasks but never got involved in recipe development until they wanted to talk about his Belgian beers.

So Zimmerman and Giebel sat down, along with brewer Paul Komsic, and set out to revamp BrickHouse’s Flying Dutchman IPA. “The cool thing about working with them is we constantly bounce ideas off each other,” says Giebel. The three formulated a recipe. Giebel suggested Sorachi Ace hops to add a peppery note to the beer.

Brewing on a larger scale still feels familiar to Giebel. One big difference is “more precise temperature controls.” In addition to Flying Dutchman, Giebel will have another beer on the Long Island scene shortly.

Muscat Love is a grape triple that Giebel produced with Great South Bay Brewery after winning a monthly homebrew competition. They were so pleased with the beer it is being entered into the Great American Beer Festival “Pro-Am” competition, which is an award for the best collaboration beer between a professional and amateur.

“It’s a real positive feeling to know people enjoy my beer,” says Giebel. “It really makes you think about doing something in the future.”

A limited amount of Flying Dutchman IPA is currently on tap at BrickHouse Brewery and Muscat Love will be on tap at Great South Bay by mid August.

This article originally appeared on Edible Long Island.

Ed Hahne and Mexicali Blues: an LIBME & Great South Bay Brewery Collaboration

Our friend and fellow Long Island Beer & Malt Enthusiast and Brewers East End Revival Member Ed Hahne passed away on July 11th, 2014. We found out when we woke up the next morning after receiving a text from another friend and homebrewer Frank Filacchone. He sent us an odd message saying, “I’m sure you heard the bad news by now,” which we thought meant the beer both men recently brewed together, along with Mike Napolitano and Ed’s wife Lee Ann, at Great south Bay Brewery had turned out poorly. We never expected to get this news; in fact we thought Frank was just overreacting about a batch that had gone sour. We knew though when he followed up with another text reading “Call me now,” things were more serious.

It’s a shock when the first thing you hear when calling someone is that your friend is dead. When something like this happens so suddenly it jolts you, almost putting you outside of reality. We felt for the first few minutes after getting off of the phone with Frank that he couldn’t have been right, the information he had was wrong and he would call back any second with good news: Ed was ok. When this feeling wore off we both talked about how good of a person Ed had been to us and to those around us.

Ed Hahne was one of the most welcoming people we have met in our life. From the moment we met him both he and his wife Lee Ann treated us like friends. Ed was willing to take his time to ask us about how we were doing and how our wedding plans were coming along within the first few times of meeting us. He was that kind of person: warm, caring and wearing a big heart on his sleeve.

Ed was also a teacher and we felt honored to have many discussions with him about his life with Lee Ann and the many different experiences they had shared together. Alicia remembers vividly when Lee Ann told her about a surprise trip to California she booked for them both to visit breweries they always wanted to see. To go somewhere together, experience and taste life as a couple.

Now Ed is gone but we will never forget him and neither will his comrades in local homebrewing clubs LIBME & BEER. In fact, Long Island has a chance to taste the fruits of Ed’s brewing efforts and the result of winning the recent LIBME “Chopped”-style homebrewing competition, brewed in collaboration with Great South Bay Brewery.

Lee Ann Hahne, Ed Hahne, Mike Napolitano, Frank Filacchione and Andrew Luberto

Lee Ann Hahne, Ed Hahne, Mike Napolitano, Frank Filacchione and Andrew Luberto

Mexicali Blues is a stout brewed with Mexican chilis, cinnamon and vanilla. According to Lee Ann they “didn’t stuff the ballot box,” to end up with the perfect ingredients for a stout and were “very happy with each item they pulled”. Ed agreed with Lee saying that the beer is, “all about the Mexican Chilis. They are the ingredient X.” Frank Filacchione and Mike Napolitano wound up finding the chilis for the homebrewed version in a bodega in Brooklyn. However, the original vanilla extract they used didn’t provide the certain something they were looking for so a “secret concoction from home” was added, boosting the flavor.

We had the chance to taste this DIY version of Mexicali Blues June 4th at the monthly LIBME meeting. That night the “Chopped”-style competition was judged through a popular vote by those in attendance. Members tried each competing team’s beer then voted for the one they liked best. We both found Mexicali Blues to be our favorite and cast our votes for it. The beer was a nicely balanced stout with hints of vanilla, traces of cinnamon and a building but never overwhelming presence of Mexican Chili peppers. Frank, Mike, Lee and Ed made a wonderful beer together and deserved to have it declared winner.


GSB's Greg Maisch, Frank Filacchione, Lee Ann and Ed Hahne

GSB’s Greg Maisch, Frank Filacchione, Lee Ann and Ed Hahne

Mexicali Blues was produced by the Boil in a Bag (BiaB) method where the grain and full volume of water are added to one kettle, rather than two, to create the beer. This is sometimes seen as a short cut by other brewers and team Mexicali Blues felt a little heat when brewing their beer in a group setting at fellow club member Chris Kelley’s house. “We were mocked by the other brewers throughout the day,” said Ed Hahne. But with the win the old adage “He who laughs last, laughs best” was proven as the group was able to kick back and relax while all the other teams were still brewing or cleaning equipment. Ed called it, “A great irony.” (work smarter not harder instead?)

We hope that the beer the group brewed at Great South Bay with head brewer Greg Maisch hits the same subtle notes their winning beer was so gracefully able to play. The GSB batch was made on their one barrel pilot system and will be released this Saturday at the brewery. This beer, labeled an under dog in the competition by team Mexicali Blues, is something we are both very much looking forward to trying. In conjunction with the release Great South Bay will be honoring the memory of our friend Ed Hahne.

Frank Filacchione, Andrew Luberto, Mike Napolitano and Ed Hahne

Frank Filacchione, Andrew Luberto, Mike Napolitano and Ed Hahne

Last night we attended his wake. It was a sad yet somehow uplifting occasion. With around two hundred people gathering to pay their respects from all periods and facets of Ed’s life it became a celebration of our friend rather than just a chance to say goodbye. Throughout the wake there were many speakers sharing there wonderful memories of Ed. One of Ed’s friends, Bob, spoke and a point he made hit home with us.

He noticed that Ed had brought all of the people in attendance together. Ed touched so many diverse people throughout his life who now have a connection and learned so much from him. Bob suggested that is what Mr. Hahne’s legacy is: friendship, caring and community. We could not think of a more fitting legacy for someone who was so open and welcoming. We will be thinking of you when we sip Mexicali Blues on Saturday, Ed, and are going to cherish our memories and what you taught us always.

We will miss you Ed

We will miss you Ed