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Paul Guarracini, HOF Inductee 2023

Paul joined UNYHA in somewhere in the 1994-1995 range and had been homebrewing for a year prior to joining the club. He joined because he wanted to make better beer after moving from extract brewing to all grain brewing. All grain brewing was more complicated and required different equipment, and in the mid 90’s everything in the homebrewing world was DIY due to limited amounts of resources. When Paul started attending meetings, they were located at Barnstormers Pub, which was one of the original brewpubs here in Rochester, and the president at that time was Gary Kunes. The first beer Paul ever made was an American Pale/Amber Ale. The beer Paul was the proudest of during is homebrewing years was an English Black IPA, which won gold in that year’s homebrew comp in the Specialty IPA category. The worst beer Paul every made was the first beer he ever made, which was an extract kit.

In terms of a favorite UNYHA story, Paul reminisced more about some of the activities the club did back in the day that he particularly enjoyed, such as Trivia Night run by Turk Thomas, Gadget night, which used to be a much bigger deal before all the great that’s currently available, and the Beer Olympics that used to occur at the annual club Octoberfest. Paul also recalled how some of the club staples, like the Grain Store, Beer School, and Beer of the Month, originated on the car trips out to National Homebrew Conventions.

If Paul had to give one piece of advice to a less experienced or newer homebrewer, he felt that anything related to improving fermentation, like making yeast starters or slurries as well as having the freshest yeast possible, is the most important thing when trying to make better beer. He felt that when your beer tastes good it will keep you in the hobby and that education in homebrewing is fundamental. A fun fact that Paul mentioned was that him and his business partner Don met at a UNYHA meeting.

Paul has remained in the club for as long as he has for several reasons. He felt that always being mindful of your roots is very important as well as giving back to the community that gave him so much. From Paul’s perspective, homebrewers are a different breed in the sense that we are driven by willingness to try new ideas, processes, and experiments without the burdens of having to make things that need to be sold. He said that most small breweries are started by homebrewers and that there aren’t many environments that offer a unique place to talk and learn about beer in an inclusive and open atmosphere. He felt that the singular focus on beer drives inclusivity and that its rare to find that in 2023. Paul’s hope for the club going forward is that we continue to reinforce our mission of education. Not just celebrating beer, but also teaching people how to make the best beer possible through personal interaction and experience.