Bathtub Brewery is the porcelain adorned homebrew house operated by Ray Merkler and Melissa Ward. Founded on June 7th, 2008, when Ray and Melissa held their first official brew day, the site chronicles the couple’s adventures in homebrewing, while simultaneously offering in-depth commentary on subjects including brewing, brewery restaurants, food and beer pairings, and various other food and beer related topics, with special focus aimed at those who are new homebrewers or are looking to start.
Who are we?
Ray Merkler is a software engineer with a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Delaware and one-third of an aborted M.E. in Software Engineering from Drexel University. He found a love for craft beer in 2006 when his future brother-in-law, Tim Weber, got a job at the Iron Hill in Newark, DE, and began to push good beer on anyone who would suffer him. When Tim and Steph (Ray’s sister) began homebrewing, the bets were on as to when Ray and Melissa would start, themselves. Nobody picked June of 2008, so they got to keep the pot.
Ray has a particular love for the technical aspects of brewing and cooking, which clashes incessantly with his desire to create innovative food and beer recipes. You might say that he’s the engineer of the operation, but that wouldn’t explain why he’s constantly trying to find stuff that he can shoehorn some coriander into, or why he wants to try making an India Pale Ale with Belgian yeast in an 80° fermentation (for the newbies in the audience, that’s not the sort of thing you’d normally want to do). It is generally suggested that you not get him started talking about anything that he knows a lot about. Heat exchangers, web design, and Battlestar Galactica are especially dangerous.
Melissa Ward is a 2006 graduate of Rosemont College’s English and Publishing Masters’ program, and endured the arctic north — known as upstate New York — for four years while earning a Bachelor’s degree in English from SUNY Brockport. She enjoys reminding people that she’s lived up and down the East Coast, despite her lack of accent, and that she’s a quarter Hungarian (Paprika Pride!). When Melissa is not lashing the whip at a Philadelphia marketing magazine as Managing Editor On High, she can be found baking or reading some grisly non-fiction, true crimesque book (or sometimes both at the same time).
Melissa gives credit to Ray for getting her into good beer (She’ll shamefully admit that back in 2005 she thought it was perfectly okay to just order the traditional Philly lager, aka Yuengling, and think she was indie.) and therefore, must also give credit to Steph and Tim as well. She’s an avid fan of stouts, or any beer that could possibly pair with her baking, and has already begun a list of insanely bizarre beers inspired from the cookie recipes she used to make with her gramma. Unlike Ray, Melissa isn’t that interested in the technical aspect of brewing (gasp!), but more inclined to figure out various flavor combinations.
Ray and Melissa currently live together in Delran, NJ with their recently ethereal gerbil Perks, who is probably still obsessive compulsive about running on her now incorporeal wheel, and their two cats, Starbuck and Apollo. Starbuck is a girl.