There will be a time in Brandon Fields’ future when he can brew every day. Right now, the former Miami Dolphins punter who is looking to catch on with another team this season, must be content with brewing in the off-season.
“During the season, my job is punting and playing football,” Fields explains from his Florida home, noting that the five to six hours needed to brew don’t exist. “During the season there aren’t that many days I can dedicate that much free time to actually make a beer. I have plenty of time during the offseason to focus on other things, like brewing beer.”
The meticulous discipline and focus Fields applies to football also transfers to his brewing philosophy.
“On the field, I am very detail oriented. You get one shot,” he says. “With brewing you can’t go in there halfway through and change things. You get one shot to do it and must capitalize on what you’re doing.”
Fields began brewing seven years ago when his wife presented him with a starter kit — a couple buckets and “the bare essentials.” Fields was instantly enthralled. Initially, the laundry room housed the fermenting buckets until a “mishap” forced a relocation to the garage. Fields filled a bucket with wort and, though he knew it wasn’t ideal, left less than an inch of headspace. During a break at practice the following day, Fields noticed his phone exploding with “a whole bunch” of texts and pictures.
“It began foaming like a sixth grade science project,” he says with a chuckle. “It was a foam volcano. There was six or seven inches of foam all over the laundry room.”
That wasn’t the end of it. All the work for the cable guy scheduled that day was, naturally, in the laundry room. The topper: “The house smelled like a frat house after a big blowout party. My wife kicked me out of the house and into the garage.”
Fields puts a positive spin on the disaster. Moving his brewing operation into the garage meant he could have a custom homebrew system built. “It’s an all-grain, 15 gallon (57 L), 3-tier system that I can use either gravity or pump fed,” he says proudly.
The new system also meant he could experiment more, something he relishes. Fields usually creates his own recipes or tweaks clones so he can “put a unique spin on it.” His wife Katie also challenges him, such as creating an Arnold Palmer (lemonade and ice tea) beer. (He did.) Other creations include a Citrus Double IPA, a Chocolate Coffee Stout, and recently, a Pineapple Raspberry Coconut Water Blonde.
That recipe used the water from 175 coconuts gathered from his backyard. Though the coconut water left an off-flavor, Fields “salvaged” the brew with an infusion of fruit in the secondary.
With whom has Fields, who for the past eight years was the punter for the Miami Dolphins, share his creations with? Other Dolphins, of course. Some former teammates enjoy Fields’ “Brando’s Brew” enough that they’ve become willing guinea pigs to experimental batches and offer suggestions. Players favoring American lagers are harder nuts to crack.
“They’re the tougher ones to get something they’d like,” Fields says.
If football is Fields’ first passion, brewing is surely the second. Fields is also completing a Masters in Business from the University of Miami so that when he eventually hangs up those cleats, everything he needs — including a notebook full of original recipes — will be in place to open a brewery in Ohio, his home state.
Will Pineapple Raspberry Coconut Water Blonde make the beer list?
“It was probably better in theory than execution,” he says, “but it was a fun experiment.”
While his Pineapple Raspberry Coconut Water Blonde may not have been a winning recipe, Brandon was kind enough to share another "Brando Brew" recipe for a Coconut Pineapple Vanilla IPA below. Enjoy!
It takes a lot of coconuts to make a Pineapple Raspberry Coconut Water Blonde
Coconut Pineapple Vanilla IPA
OG = 1.058 FG = 1.015
IBU = 65 SRM = 8 ABV = 5.7%
10 lbs. (4.5 kg) North American 2-row pale malt
1 lb. (0.45 kg) crystal malt (40 °L)
1 lb. (0.45 kg) Carapils® malt
6.4 AAU Simcoe® hops (60 min.) (0.5 oz./14 g at 12.8% alpha acids)
12.8 AAU Simcoe® hops (20 min.) (1 oz./28 g at 12.8% alpha acids)
9.5 AAU Amarillo® hops (20 min.) (1 oz./28 g at 9.5% alpha acids
1 oz. (28 g) Amarillo® hops (0 min.)
½ tsp. Irish moss (5 min.)
½ tsp. yeast nutrient (5 min.)
0.75 oz. (21 g) vanilla bean (secondary)
12 oz. (0.34 kg) flaked coconut (secondary)
3 lbs. (1.36 kg) frozen pineapple (secondary)
White Labs WLP001 (California Ale) yeast
¾ cup corn sugar (if priming)
Step by Step
Mash grains at 152 °F (67 °C) until conversion is complete. Total boil time is 60 minutes. Ferment at 69 °F (21 °C) until primary is complete.
After primary fermentation, transfer to secondary vessel then add the vanilla beans, flaked coconut, and pineapple for 4 days.
* The vanilla was overpowering at first, mellowed after 2 weeks and the pineapple came through more. Would probably treat with 0.5 oz. (14 g) vanilla bean, 8–10 oz. (0.23–0.28 kg) flaked coconut, and 4-4.5 lbs. (1.8–2 kg) of frozen pineapple but ultimately depends what you want to get out of the beer.