Monday, June 1, 2015

Home Brewmance

The American Homebrewers Association estimates that there are 1.2 million homebrewers in the United States!  The craft beer industry is exploding, breweries are popping up on every corner and most restaurants have starting carrying a wide selection of craft beers. But, why are homebrewers are drawn to the hobby?  We decided to interview the unofficial Brew Club that has formed in my neighborhood.     

A few years ago the husbands of the hood started disappearing on Sundays, you couldn't threaten entice them with anything.  Sorry, they would say, we can't.  We are BREWING.  Blah, blah.... brewing, I never understood it.  They would take turns hosting and meet in the garage/driveway and they spend the entire day hanging out, drinking, eating and brewing beer.  I would occasionally pop in for a few minutes, but I never understood what they were doing out there the WHOLE DAY.  So, Marie and I infiltrated their brewmance to learn about the process.

First, they broke it down for us like we were Kindergartens:
(no offense to Kindergarteners)

  1. Soak grains
  2. Rinse grains
  3. Boil sugar water (this is called Wort) (they could've picked a more appetizing name)
  4. Add hops
  5. Cool it down
  6. Add yeast
  7. Leave it the f*ck alone for around 2 weeks.

Soaking the grains
Teamwork makes the dream work.

Billy's Soft Pretzels
Pizza and Beer!

(Click here for Billy's Bavarian Soft Pretzel Recipe.)

While they were brewing I asked them each a series of questions, reporter style.

First up is my husband, Billy, who has a bar in the garage with a converted freezer (Keezer) that holds three kegs of his homemade beer, on tap.

  1. Day Job:  Operations Business Manger at General Mills.
  2. What got you into home brewing? My wife bought me a home brew kit.  (oh lord, no one but myself to blame!)
  3. Where do you brew?  Always outside, because I make messes.
  4. What is your favorite style to brew?  A Stout, because I like to drink them.
  5. Oddest ingredient?  One time I dropped a leather glove in by accident, but that ended up being my best beer!
  6. How long have you been brewing?  13 years.
  7. Favorite beer?  Dangerous Man Chocolate Milk Stout
  8. Advice for other home brewers?  Find a community to brew with or join a homebrew club.

The Wort (sugar water)

Next was Josh, my across the street neighbor.

  1. Day Job:  Application System Engineer
  2. What got you into home brewing? I like beer and I like to cook, I like experimenting with recipes and flavors.
  3. Where do you brew?  Outside, my first attempts to brew were inside and I quickly got banished to the outside because of the odor.
  4. What is your favorite style to brew?  Hard question.   Probably IPA's because the hop aroma is extraordinary, it is smile inducing!
  5. Oddest ingredient?  Cacao beans.
  6. How long have you been brewing?  5 years
  7. Favorite beer?  What?  That is like asking my to pick my favorite child! I like beers for different reasons.
  8. Advice for other home brewers?  Be patient.  It takes awhile to get good at it.  Expect mistakes and learn from them.
  9. BONUS Marie question: If you could drink any beer RIGHT NOW, what would it be?  Schell Pilsner, it is a great summer time beer and an excellent rendition of the style.

Brian adding a syrup for his specific beer.
The Wort is boiling!

Billy's Famous Pretzels!

What goes good with beer?  Pretzels and Pizza!

Next up is my friend Brian, a down the street neighbor.
  1. Job Title:  General Manager at Manus
  2. What got you into home brewing?  My friends and the taste of their homebrews.
  3. Where do you brew?  Outside
  4. What is your favorite style to brew?   Front Porch Ale, because it is the only one I know how to brew!
  5. How long have you been brewing?  (looks at watch) One hour!
  6. Favorite beer? IPA's, I think my palate is maturing!
  7. Advice for other home brewers?  Patience, and find some friends to teach you!

From L to R:  Kyle, Brian, Billy and Josh

Special hose that runs cool water through to cool it.
Cooling it down.

Lastly, my neighbor from waaaaay down the street, Kyle.

  1. Job Title:  Operation Leader at Dow Chemical
  2. What got you into home brewing?  My Dad brews beer and he also makes wine.
  3. Where do you brew?  Always outside.
  4. What is your favorite style to brew?  Porters
  5. Oddest ingredient?  Peppers
  6. How long have you been brewing?  8 years
  7. Favorite beer?  Surly Cacao Bender
  8. Advice for other home brewers?  Sanitize.  Infections suck.

If you want to get the man in your life into homebrewing, The Vintage Gypsy has some things to get you started.   (just click on the pictures to take you to the website)

New to the shop is this Beer Flight Set.  The brewmance would love this so they could have a tasting with each batch of their homebrews!

 Beer Flight Set

The shop also has an assortment of other beer related items that would be perfect for Father's Day!

This weekend, the guys are all headed to St Paul for the St. Paul Summer Beer Fest.  

According to the St. Paul Summer Beer Fest website,
"The 7th annual St. Paul Summer Beer Fest will take place Saturday, June 6th, 2015 from 2-6pm (VIP at 1pm) at the MN State Fairgrounds - International Bazaar in beautiful St. Paul.
This outdoor craft beer festival will feature sampling from 100 breweries in a commemorative tasting glass, live music, tasty food, educational seminars, a silent auction benefiting the YMCA of St. Paul, and the fun atmosphere of MN State Fairgrounds."

What a fun way to get excited about becoming a homebrewer!

Marie and I learned a lot about the technical side of beer making yesterday, but I think the most important thing I learned about their Sunday get-togethers is that brewing is something you do with your friends and for your friends.  They've formed their own little brew club, they are learning from each other and helping each other.  It isn't just about loving beer, it's about friendship, and I had a lot of fun hanging out with the guys watching them encourage each other and get excited about the beer they were making.

Awwwwww.  It's a brewmance.
<insert tiny bluebirds tweeting and flying in circles around their heads>

~ Mel

ps. The guys wanted you to know that they get most of their supplies at Midwest Supplies in St Louis Park and Northern Brewer in S. Minneapolis or St. Paul.  

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