This is the 2nd in a series of portraits of homebrewers participating in the NYC Brewers Pro-Am. The 1st profile of Will Reder can be found here.
If you've been around the New York homebrewing community over the past few years, you've likely run into Xavier Jirau Serrano at BJCP classes, bottle swaps, festivals, and homebrew club meetings. Serrano is lovingly referred to as Xavi (pronounced Zah-Vee) by those who know him well.
Xavi graduated from college with a degree in microbiology in his native Puerto Rico and has always had an affinity for fermentation. He lives with his wife, Ive Rodriguez, in Crown Heights just a few blocks from Covenhoven where the NYC Brewers Pro-Am is taking place this Saturday. Regular listeners of the Brew To Share podcast might remember him from episode 10.
Xavi is no stranger to beer collaborations. He's widely known to be eager to collaborate on a beer with just about anyone. He proudly states, "It is always great to collaborate, you always learn something." This spirit of learning through collaboration is particularly true with his homebrew club the Brewminaries, where he serves as the Scientific Advisor. In that capacity he designs and oversees the club's ambitious agenda of experiments. Xavi is always the first person to sign up for the club's collaboration showcases in order to learn from others. Friends often joke that the second a new member arrives to the club Xavi is already planning a beer with that person.
Serrano was 1 of 5 local homebrewers randomly selected from a list of more than 60 entrants to participate in the annual event the NYC Brewers Pro-Am hosted at Covenhoven and now in its 3rd year. Xavi was partnered with the Bronx Brewery and brewed with Morgan Snyder, their assistant brewer. They were hosted by Bitter & Esters to brew on their brew on premises system, the only one of it's kind in New York State.
They brewed a Kolsch-style beer with rye and lightly roasted coffee. The recipe formulation grew organically with Xavi meeting with Snyder in the brewery tap room and tasting samples as they hashed out a plan for the beer. "We wanted to put a Bronx signature on the beer, and also do something unique and interesting. That is how the coffee and rye idea came into play. Bronx brewery has a coffee roaster next door, and the roaster showed up while we were discussing the beer." said Serrano. He then adds," he (the coffee roaster) told us about his most recent crop of light roasted coffeee with honeydew notes. We thought it would go perfect with rye."
For the event the professional brewers and the homebrewers will be bringing a beer separate from their collaboration to serve. The 4 other participants will be doing the same for a total of 15 beers for unlimited samples during the 2 sessions. For his homebrew, Xavi will be bringing a "twisted" version of the collaboration, "I made a coffee pale ale, with golden promise and white wheat malt, and went towards a more tropical flavor profile using Azzaca hops and Bret Trois.
All 5 teams will be competing for your vote. The winner of Audience Choice this Saturday will have have that beer brewed on their Pro partner's commercial system. That beer will be distributed to local craft bars throughout the city. The audience present has the ability to shape a small part of the NYC craft scene.
The NYC Brewers Pro-Am is produced by Bitter & Esters and Brew To Share. As in years past, there are 2 sessions for the NYC Brewers Pro-Am given the limited capacity of the space.The 1st session is 1p-3p and the 2nd session is 3:30p-5:30p. Tickets are $35 in advance or $40 at the door. Advance tickets are available here.