Brewer Profile: Phil Kane

Written by Ken Carman

Brewer profiles include both homebrewers and brewers who work for “the man,” or “the woman,” or the… nevermind! This edition we have our first homebrewer profile.

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When I first met Phil Kane I was glad to recognize his first achievement: a homebrewer crazier than me. I mean that with affection. It was during a pub crawl. We were at a former micro and brewpub in Nashville called Market Street and he was already there wearing a big butt. I’m not kidding. Our annual Music City Brewers competition was being held near Halloween, so naturally Phil came in costume… and wore it on the crawl.

For years he was affectionally known in the club as, “Ass Man,” and that’s not sarcasm. Phil is quite loved here in Nashville. Just don’t tell Jody his wife.

Shhh!!!

But he also earned my respect because he likes to brew odd/weird beers like I do.

“I’ve made a few different types of beer, Oyster Stout, Smoked Salmon Porter, cider with hops. When I was in Saudi Arabia we made beer from near beer, and malt extract for malt bread.The most interesting beer was my ‘bista beer.’ I cleaned out the brew closet, bits of this, and bits of that. It fermented very hard for 3 week, then continued for 2 more. I bottled it and waited and waited.”

“It tasted like crap. Not wanting to dump it, I put it in the garden tin shed. Two years later, I needed the bottles… well, ya gotta try it. It was unbelievable smooth and very strong, like a Imperial stout on steroids.”

“It soon got its new name (Extract of Heroin) one bottle would do you in, even had hallucinogenic properties. We gave a six pack to the Red neck coon arse hunting club in Mississippi, never went back to find out what happened.”

Oh, and…

Billingham, England: hometown.

I remember telling him that one of my dreams was to live my life with my mouth open under a Young’s Brewery serving tank. Oh, and to add to the attraction, I think he was a bit more lit than I was.

Such a handsome man!

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Wait, where am I going with this interview? What will our wives think of where I seem to be going? (Brush myself off and mutter, “Ewe!”)

I have judged beer with Phil and have found him professional as a judge and very discerning. I suppose it’s kind a dicotomy amongst judges. We can be both crazy and professional. But I imagine if your surgeon was wearing a huge pair of buttocks you might have some questions before the morphine took you off to La La Land.

We don’t need that. We have…

beer!

“I started brewing when I was about 12 or 13. My first brew was tea wine, hot tea, sugar, yeast… left under the stairs for 6 months. Then my younger brother and I drank it and got drunk for the first time.”

“Inspired by a TV show on making wine.”

I suspect that was probably before it was legal here in the States which was about 1979.

His suggestions for homebrewers…

“Plan the brew and brew the plan, if your going to make changes to a recipe, make small ones. Keep drinking and non-brewers to a minimum. Too many distractions won’t help you make better beer and if it does, you won’t know why.”

“Keep good records of recipes and brewing procedures, including ph, all water temps and times. Cover brew pots when transferring, if it’s not boiling cover it.”

“I will shoot CO2 into carboys before transferring, that way it don’t matter about splatter.”

Since we both judge I asked Phil what he like the most about competitions…

“You have got to enter competitions if you want your brewing to improve, one gold is never enough, then that elusive best of show. You will meet people to bounce ideas off, and answer questions.”

“Drinking other people’s beer is never a bad thing.”

…and the least…

“People that don’t fill out score sheets, or that write like a doctor.”

Well, having seen his answers in print now, I remember I did judge a salmon beer a while back. Now I’m not supposed to know whose beer is whose when I judge. I suppose someone else could have had a Salmon Porter, couldn’t they? Couldn’t they? But, just in case Phil, I think I probably filled the sheet out fairly well: I almost always try to at least. (After quite a while at a high octane table well… we all have our limitations.) And I certainly don’t write like a Doc. But if I didn’t do as well as I should have, just take three huge glasses of Barleywine in the morning and get back to me… if you can.

Considering how much we both love beer, I suspect this great brewer is up to the task.

Huge glasses of Barleywine.
Huge glasses of Barleywine.

Multiple award winning brewers Phil and Jody Kane live in Memphis, TN.