This week we feature a short interview with Dan Listermann of Listermann Manufacturing. You may not instantly recognize Dan’s name, but most home brewers have seen Listermann’s line of products including his innovative “Phil’s” line including Phil’s Phalse Bottom, Phil’s Lauter Tun and Phil’s Sparger. Dan now runs a full homebrewing store featuring a line of homebrewing kits as well as his home brewing equipment business.
How did you get started?
I first brewed in 1973 at college. It was a disaster and did not get better. 15 years later, my old roommate suggested that we give it another go assuring me that things were better. He was right and I was off making my own beer. I noticed that bottle fillers displaced their own volume when withdrawn. This bothered me so I sat in a bar one night and designed a filler that would not do that.
The next day I bought the tubing to make one and when I was finished, I thought that, “that was not hard.” The wife and I decided to start making them in the basement that year – 1991. Eventually we added other products and moved out of the basement into a business incubator. By the spring of 1993, the business had grown enough that I quit my quality / manufacturing engineering job to devote full time to it.
In 1995 we decided that Cincinnati was ill served from a homebrew perspective. We found a building where we could both manufacture and sell retail. It has worked out great. The manufacturing has been scaled down in light of the growing retail business and we recently received a brewing license for the next phase of our fun.
I’m sure lots of us are wondering – who is Phil?
Phil is our oldest son. He is 28 now and has a son of his own!
You have been in the homebrewing business since 1991 – how has it changed over the years?
It has grown and become more technical. The old can and a kilo kits are becoming a smaller and smaller share of the trade with properly designed kits based on fresh bulk extract and specialty grains taking their place. There are few real excuses to not go all-grain anymore.
Many of us dream of pursuing our hobby full time – what is it like?
First I count myself as very lucky that this has happened to me. I got a lot of good breaks and wonderful support from the homebrew community. So far it has not hurt my own hobby’s urges. I am brewing a 15 gallon batch now. I also have other interests to occupy myself – pigeon racing is my latest obsession.
How do you keep coming up with new innovative products?
I pretty much quit doing that when we scaled the manufacturing back. When I get an idea, I consider the effort and payout compared to other things – commercial brewing mainly – and seem to lose interest, but never say never.
Where do you see homebrewing as a hobby going in the next few years?
More all-grain producing better beer. Very few brewers that catch the bug are willing to remain extract brewers. The hop shortage is going to change things a lot for a while. I think that homebrewers are going to start exploring the not so bitter side of the spectrum.
What new ideas are you working on now?
Since I got my brewing license, commercial recipes!
Is there anything you would like to add?
If you don’t brew your own beer, you will have to drink someone else’s beer.
Designing extract kits after all-grain brewing was a real eye opener. It was real neat to be able to take the experience of making beer from scratch and applying that experience it to extract. Very probably few brewers get this opportunity. Extract has some real advantages that are really not discussed much.
Thanks to Dan Listermann for granting this interview. For more great beer brewing articles, consider subscribing for regular free delivery.
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