Dexter “Midnight Runner” Hoban & Justin “Iron Chef” Ulness

My name is Dexter Hoban, and my brewing co-hort Justin Ulness and I have been honored with the Brewer(s) of the Month award from the Manty Malters. The first craft beer we enjoyed was Guinness Draught, while in college. We attribute our foray into craft beer to my dad. He loves a nice frothy Guinness, or any beer different than your typical American domestic light lagers, and got us both to try a Guinness with him. We moved from Guinness into other craft beer like Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy which was blowing up in popularity at the time, and we were very excited when Festival Foods in Oshkosh started offering build-your- own 6-packs!

A couple years later after getting started in our careers, and tasting many more delicious craft beers, I decided I really wanted to try brewing my own beer. In the summer of 2014, I stopped by Grape, Grain and Bean in Manitowoc and Marc hooked me up with my initial homebrew kit and brew kettle. The rest, as they say, is our sudsy history!

I quickly realized that it is no simple task to brew a 5 gallon batch of beer and decided to include a few friends who could assist with some of the heavy lifting (and eventual beer drinking). A beer tastes so much better when you can reminisce about the work you put into it.

In addition to Justin and myself, Matt has been there with us the whole way and has recently acquired some brewing equipment and a kegerator of his own! Honorable mention goes to Marcus and Brian as our fellow beer aficionados, brewing assistants and official taste testers.

My expertise is in IT/Computer systems, so I enjoy the technical and scientific side of brewing. As for Justin, he’s the culinary brain of our operation. Justin attended the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in California. (http://www.ciachef.edu/cia-california/) Together we collaborate to assemble tastes from the West Coast and the Midwest, and we have brewed some delectable beer.

To date we’ve brewed about 35 batches of beer for many occasions, competitions and holidays. One of our most important being a special “J&B Pale Ale” brewed for Justin and his wife Brittney’s wedding! (The J&B is shorthand for Justin & Brittney…awwww…) Our J&B Pale Ale is a very refreshing summer pale ale brewed with juniper berries! As refreshing as a gin and tonic on a hot day, it can even be enjoyed with a lime!

After our first 4 extract batches, we decided we wanted control over the whole brewing process and made the change to all-grain brewing. It has been a blast formulating recipes with a professionally trained chef! Our most interesting beer and favorite stout, of those that we’ve brewed, is our Roasted Pecan Chocolate Stout. It has amazing depth and character, tastes delicious on a cold winter day in Wisconsin, and is as delightful as a piece of cake!

Thanks goes out to the Manty Malters club for this award. We’ve learned a lot from the other members who have been brewing many more years than us! For those interested in getting into homebrewing, if you’re in the area come on by a Manty Malters meeting! There will most likely be beer to taste and we love answering any questions about beer or brewing in general, no matter your skill level! We meet the first Thursday of every month at 6:30pm at Kathie’s Stage Door Pub in Manitowoc. It’s a fun evening once a month to get together and enjoy and discuss some tasty beer!