Most Interesting People: Richard Skains

Home brewer and music teacher

Age • 41

Why he’s interesting • His smoked bock beer with chipotle peppers picked up the prestigious Best in Show award at the National Homebrew Competition in Denver last June. It netted Skains the intoxicating title of Homebrewer of the Year.

Why we almost threw our Most Interesting People party at his house this year • Skains keeps four of his homemade beers on tap in his rec room.

His other talent • Before he was a brewer, he was a musician — a good one. His high school percussion skills picked up the top award in a national contest sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts. It netted Skains the coveted title of presidential scholar.

The secret to a killer beer • “Yeast management.” We would explain what that means, but it turns out brewing beer is a really complicated, technical and esoteric process. Listening to Skains explain it made us need a drink.

The secret to a winning beer • Make it big. To make his brews stand out from the competition, Skains tries to push the alcohol content in his beers up past 7.5 percent. “It’s going to have a stronger body to it, more robust flavors — they’re going to win out.”

Drinking at a bar or drinking at home? • At the bar

Bottle, can or glass? • Definitely a glass. “It changes the experience. If you’re drinking out of a bottle, you’re not going to pick up the aroma. And for me, just by smelling a beer I can tell what its characteristics are — I know whether to take a sip or not.”

Best cure for a hangover • What else? “Drink a beer. I’m serious.”
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