GVFaces: Greg Sanial

October 3, 2023 (Volume 47, Number 3)
Article by Michele Coffill

From using a reverse osmosis process to adding tips from spruce trees to a batch, Greg Sanial continues to tinker with his homebrews and has had recent success in competitions.

Sanial, vice president for Finance and Administration, has brewed beer for nearly 30 years. He said his techniques have kept up with advancements from the homebrew industry.

"When I started homebrewing, it was with a can of syrup and boiled water and you called that your beer," he said.

It was more than a can of syrup that went into the batch Sanial created for the September 30 "Brews at the Calder" event in Grand Rapids, which paired homebrewers with area breweries. His recipe for a Czech dark lager was selected by Broad Leaf Brewing to be brewed for the pro-am competition.

It was not the first time Sanial won a competition to be paired with a brewery. Earlier this year, he crafted a Kentucky common beer that was one of three winners for a Kent District Library competition with a book theme. As a winner, he was paired with Railtown Brewing Co. in Caledonia to brew the recipe on a commercial scale.

In September, Sanial earned two bronze medals at the Michigan State Fair Homebrew Competition in the amber hybrid beer and English brown ale categories. The medals followed Sanial's second place and two third-place finishes at a regional competition in Indianapolis, Indiana. Those three entries advanced to the National Homebrew Competition, which Sanial called the Olympics of homebrewing. He also won a gold and two bronze medals at the Michigan Homebrew Cup this summer. 

"I find the whole process very relaxing. Usually on a Saturday, I'll get up before my family and start a batch," he said. "I've learned to troubleshoot when something doesn't go right, and that's very satisfying."

Sanial is a member of Prime Time Brewers, the Grand Rapids club of homebrewers who meet monthly to tour breweries and share recipes and advice. 

"It's nice to talk with others who share their expertise. One person brought in spruce tips from his yard and we incorporated those into our own beer, batches" he said.

He sometimes uses a reverse osmosis process to purify water, saying he can then add different salts optimal for a recipe. 

Now accustomed to being critiqued and judged, Sanial said he would like to move to the other side of brewing competitions. "I'm studying to be a judge, which involves an online certification exam and a sampling test of six types of beer to test sensory evaluation," he said.

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This article was last edited on October 3, 2023 at 9:33 a.m.

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