As the popularity of craft beer continues to swell, more fans are turning to a fun and cost-effective way to quench their thirst: brewing it themselves.
There are a lot of reasons to home-brew, says Brad Weaver. It’s simple, you can save money, you can experiment and tweak beer recipes to your own tastes, and it can be a fun social activity, he says.
Weaver is a home-brewer who recently partnered with The Beer Place, a beer distributor at 2104 Spring Valley Road, to handle sales of the recently added home-brewing supplies in the store. They sell everything from specialty grains and hops to winemaking kits to brewing equipment. They also plan to have home-brew classes once a month for beginners.
“Beer-making and winemaking have been on the upswing over the past 10 years,” Matt McAlpine, president of The Beer Place, says. “I don’t know what is going to happen in Harrisburg with beer and liquor laws. We’ll have to change and adapt, and I think having a home-brew section is being a little more proactive.”
Nationwide, the home-brew industry is growing by 30 percent each year, according to Ian McHarg, eastern territory sales manager for Brewcraft USA. McHarg deals with all states east of the Mississippi. “(Pennsylvania) is one of our highest growth states right now,” McHarg says. “It’s a hobby industry that is just exploding.”
“In (Pennsylvania), laws have stymied an industry that has grown fairly quickly elsewhere,” McHarg says, and now that some laws are changing, the home-brew trend in Pennsylvania is catching up.
Karen Hollman, activities coordinator for the Lancaster County Brewers Club and home-brewer of eight years, says she not only sees growth in membership, but also in the quality of beer being brewed. Home-brewers are communicating more via social media and the Internet to improve their craft.
“The quality of beer that home-brewers are putting out now rivals any commercial beer,” Hollman says.
“It’s just like music, it’s constantly evolving,” she says, “and the experimental side of home-brewing is wide open.”
It was experimentation that first drew Hollman to home-brewing, she says. She hasn’t brewed the same beer twice.
“There is a lot of creativity, there are a lot of people who do crazy stuff,” Hollman says. Beer with vegetables, beer brewed without hops, maple porter and home-grown Honeysuckle beer —Hollman says club members have come up with some truly unique beverages.
The brewers club meets in the basement of Lancaster Brewing Company on the last Wednesday of every month. At February’s meeting, about 20 members gathered to talk and share beer. Lively conversation and laughter filled the room as they passed their home-brews around for others to try.
Colin McCall recently joined the club after he began home-brewing a year ago. He says he enjoys sharing recipes, sharing beer and participating in communal days when members get together to brew.
For those who are just looking to get their feet wet, Lancaster Homebrew owner Mark Garber says it’s a lot easier to do than it may seem.
“The actual brewing process is very forgiving. There is a lot of room for error,” Garber says. “I’ve made mistakes, putting in hops too late and so on, but the beer can still turn out fine.”
Brad Weaver says beginners can start with a beer kit that comes with a recipe and all of the malts, hops, grains and yeast needed in premeasured packages. After boiling the malts, grains and hops for a set amount of time, it’s simply a matter of cooling the mixture, adding yeast, sealing it in a carboy (a cylindrical container for brewing) and letting fermentation do its work. After two weeks, you’re ready to bottle, Weaver says, and two weeks after that, it’s ready to drink.
“The general process of brewing is pretty much the same for every beer, it’s just that there is such an array of ingredients to use,” Garber says. “It’s easy to make a good beer.”
Garber says generally you can save money, but as with any hobby, it can escalate. “There are different levels of brewing,” Garber adds. “It’s just a matter of where you want to be. As long as you’re having fun, that’s what’s important.”
Everybody knows the cost of that daily coffee you pick up on the way to work can add up to quite a bit of money each year. For Canadians who give in to the daily grind, we spend on average $700 each year for a plain cup of coffee.
At this time of the year, it might be nice to save some money while enjoying our java. Invest in an at-home-brewing machine and a thermal travel mug and you could be saving hundreds of dollars a year on your morning ritual.
Not only can you save money, but you can also help keep millions of paper cups out of the land fills when you use a refillable mug. Here’s a list of the machines and coffee costs (based on a five-day work week) from a few of your favourite java houses.
Tim Hortons’ Tassimo
Canada’s favourite cup of java by far. Their at-home brew comes in the form of the Tassimo T-DISCS capsules and gets made exclusively in a Tassimo at- home-brew machine. The average machine price is $160 and the coffee capsule is 65 cents — that’s $169 per year.
Van Houtte’s Keurig
An established coffee house in Quebec, Van Houtte is making inroads across Canada. Their at-home-brew version is from the Keurig’s brewing system and capsules are called the K-CUP. The Keurig Special Edition 860 brewer machine costs $180 and the K-CUPS average 73 cents, that’s $189.80 per year.
Starbucks, the big American coffee shop, has done marvels for the coffee culture in Canada and around the world. For those who criticize the dark-roast blends, they’ve introduced the Blonde Roast coffee, a lighter, fresher coffee bean. Starbucks has their own at-home-brewing machine called the Verisimo System, which costs $200. Their Verisimo coffee pods cost an average of $1, which will average you about $260 for a coffee before each work day.
A lesser know shop is Timothys, which started in Ontario and has spread throughout Canada and a bit in the United States. Their at-home-brewing machine is also the Keurig (like Van Houtte) and the B31 Brewer costs $100. Look for it in a few fashionable colours. The K-CUP capsules average 73 cents per cup, which tallies into about $189.80 per year for your morning work coffee.
Here’s the case of a reverse situation. Nespresso launches quality brand espresso capsule systems and it becomes so popular that they start opening Nespresso Cafés around the world. Look for them on the toniest of streets in major Canadian cities. The fancy Nespresso Grand Maestria machine costs a whopping $800, capsules average 60 cents each or $156 per year. It’s all about exclusivity and prestige with this brand.
News Worth Sharing:
Do you know a felon? Are you a felon?
If you or a friend live in Alabama and have bought one of those beer-making kits online — they run about $39.95 — and have brewed up a batch, you have committed a felony.
When powerful prohibitionists once roamed the halls on Goat Hill, the “drys” had the votes to outlaw the buying, selling and making of alcoholic beverages. Time passed and most of those laws fell by the wayside, leaving Alabama and Mississippi as the only states where home brewing is illegal.
Granted, the law did not stop the practice. There are those who can remember when most of Alabama’s “dry” grocery stores would display malt, sugar and yeast together, convenient for the home brewer. Today, this once-fugitive enterprise has become a pastime for many who treat home-brewing much like cooking — recreation enjoyed for the fun and creativity.
Yet, by law, those folks are still felons.
Past efforts to change or even repeal the homebrew law have failed. Now Rep. Mac McCutcheon, R-Huntsville, has filed a bill that would legalize home brewing of beer, wine and cider for non-commercial use.
McCutcheon’s concern comes from the fact that many of the people he represents, government workers who are in science and technology fields, like to experiment with home brewing. If they were arrested, they could lose their government-issued security clearance. He and others also point out that home brewing is how many people in the rapidly growing “craft beer” industry got their start. Making home brewing a crime stifles this enterprise and is a job killer.
The bill addresses many of the concerns of those who in the past have opposed home-brewing. It limits the amount that can be legally made, clarifies restrictions on transporting home brew to brewing competitions, and continues to prohibit people in dry counties from making their own.
Opponents of home brewing generally oppose the manufacture, sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages no matter how they are made. Their opposition is based primarily on religious grounds, though social concerns rank high, as well.
Supporters of home brewing cite the economic benefits and point out that there is little evidence to suggest that home brewers make their product to sell or to get drunk. With legal beer and wine readily available (distilling whiskey would still be outlawed), people who want to “tie one on” would hardly take the time and go to the expense to brew at home.
Although this page is not ignorant of the dangers that accompany alcohol consumption, we believe that changing the law so that home brewing would be legalized and better regulated is a good idea. McCutcheon’s bill is sound legislation and should be passed.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 January 2013 15:48
Written by Matt Shedd
Wednesday, 30 January 2013 08:43
ATLANTA - Beer
enthusiasts would be able to brew more beer and also compete with
other home brewers under new legislation. A
House Bill proposed by Representative Jason Spencer would raise the
amount a home brewer could make from 50 to 100 gallons —
that’s 200 gallons for a couple.
With a $50 permit from the
Department of Revenue, home brewers will be allowed to move the beer.
Brewers would be newly allowed to transport
up to 25 gallons of their home brew for participation in out-of-town
competitions. Spencer says he supports the personal freedom the law
would promote and also believes brew fests could become a tourism
draw to places like Savannah, Atlanta and his own area of Woodbine.
food, music and art: The “Art of Beer,” the annual fundraiser for
the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center, will be held from 6 until 9
p.m. on Friday, Feb. 22. Craft beer lovers, who also appreciate great
food and music, will pack the NACC for the seventh annual event. Last
year, more than 500 patrons were in attendance.
than 20 beer and food vendors will line the halls of the NACC and
serve a dozen different culinary selections and more than 50
varieties of beer. In addition, some great blues and classic rock
music will be flowing through the hallways, compliments of the
Bravuras and the Lakeside Blues Band.
are $30 in advance or $35 the day of the event. Patrons must be 21 to
attend. The admission ticket includes both beer and food tasting
throughout the evening. Tickets can be purchased at the NACC, located
at 1201 Pine Ave., Niagara Falls; at Niagara Tradition Home Brewing
Supplies, located at 1296 Sheridan Drive, Tonawanda; or online atwww.thenacc.org
include Flying Bison Brewery, Pearl Street Grill Brewery, Pan
American Grill Brewery, Consumers Beverages, Community Beer
Works, The Brickyard Pub BBQ, Niagara Falls Conference
Center/Old Falls Street, Certo Brothers Distributing and Try It
Distributing. A home brew demonstration will also be on display.
is plenty of free parking just across the street from the NACC. For
more information, call the NACC at 716-282-7530 or Niagara Tradition
Niagara Arts and Cultural Center is a multi-arts center located in
the former Niagara Falls High School. The NACC, founded in 2001, was
once slated for demolition, but is now listed on the National
Register of Historic Places. It is home to more than 70 artists, a
ballet school, two theaters and recording studios. Through the hard
work of hundreds of volunteers, it has undergone a major renaissance
and is now serving as a catalyst for the revitalization of the
Wine kits look fairly benign, I’ll give you that. Unless properly trained, like the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation’s crack U-VINT SWAT team, average folks just can’t see the potential dangers in these shiny bags of grape extract and packets of yeast.
Sold into the wrong hands — say to an elderly person who can’t physically manage a carboy, for example — these kits could lead to social disintegration and government insolvency, at the very least. In the glittering halls of NSLC headquarters, rumour has it, occasional furtive whispers even warn that in-store wine brewing could be a harbinger of Armageddon itself.
Some might say that it’s a wonder, given the stakes, that Nova Scotia allows the sale of wine-making kits at all. But that’s nothing but backwards thinking from a bygone era. Nova Scotia left behind its parochial ways long, long ago, or at least ever since the advent of Sunday shopping.
Wine kits are perfectly safe and pose absolutely no threat to society or the province’s treasury as long as they’re removed from the store, once purchased, and assembled elsewhere, such as at home, the cottage, in an apartment, even in a garage, storage shed or tent, as long as it’s privately owned.
Take it away, make it and drink it, as they say at the Corp. (The “make it” part was added to the saying later, I’m told, to account for home brewing.)
Sigh. If only Eve — or, in some versions of the story, Adam — had left the apple alone, eh?
I guess, being human, we just don’t understand how good we’ve got it under the thumbs of the lords of alcohol in Nova Scotia, the NSLC. How else to explain that despite our political masters granting Nova Scotians the privilege to home brew (again, THANK YOU for that), certain entrepreneurs have taken it upon themselves to cater to a perceived market demand for in-store brewing?
Yes, some people don’t have room at home to set up wine kits. Others, like the elderly or people with physical limitations, find it darn near impossible to manhandle carboys or do other steps required to make wine at home. As a politician once said to a critic: “So?” Those selfish reasons pale in comparison to the threats posed to society if those purchased wine kits do NOT leave a store’s premises.
Even though these kits are assembled in the very same way, ferment for the very same time and produce the very same product as they would at home, the NSLC, NDP and law tell us that producing that wine in a store makes it wrong. Our government’s attitude seems to be that if the public doesn’t agree, that’s just noise.
Former finance minister Graham Steele apparently once wrote one transgressor that U-vint operations could substantially reduce NSLC wine sales and so cost the government significant amounts of money. One’s heart immediately goes out to places like Ontario, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and P.E.I., then, where U-vints are legal and thriving, but those governments’ treasuries must be struggling mightily as a result.
As for NSLC, volumes of all major categories of alcohol sold, save wine, are in decline. Last year’s NSLC annual report, when not patting itself on the back for its bold strategic transformation from “place to shop” to “personal experience,” tells us that older folks — of which Nova Scotia has more and more — like wine.
Clearly we can’t be helping the elderly avoid buying their wine at NSLC, hence keeping their money out of our government’s clutches, now can we?
Attorney General Ross Landry reportedly once warned that in-store brewing could lead to binge drinking. Others in government have pointed to the social harm potentially caused by the availability of low-cost wine from kits. That they provided no evidence that linked U-vint stores to such societal ills, or explained why the same kits brewed at home don’t carry such dangers, is immaterial. As Finance Minister Maureen MacDonald put it, she doesn’t KNOW why things are different here than in other provinces; they just are.
So obey the law.
Home brewing in the new year
If you made a batch of home brew in the past few days and plan to drink it tonight, you’ve left it too late.
Home brewing supply shop owner Rex Rogers says patience is the the key to a good drop.
And he says it’s not only farming enterprises that rely on clean water. Beer does too!
“A lot of people are in too much of a hurry. That’s one of the bigger things we find, or they’re not really very clean or hygienic. If you’re not clean, you may as well give the game away.”
NUTTER FORT — Tod Lewark has been selling home-brewing and winemaking supplies in Harrison County for more than 21 years.
Now, friends like John Sofranko of Morgantown call him a “walking encyclopedia” of brew and winemaking knowledge.
Lewark started out brewing beer in 1978 because a variety of beers were hard to find in the area, he said.
“I’ve always had a taste for good beer rather than mainstream beer,” Lewark said. “One day, I was on a farm and was offered well-made prohibition-style home brew.
“I started doing it myself, and now I’m up to 664 batches,” he said.
Lewark owns The Cellar in Nutter Fort, where he sells home-brewing and winemaking supplies on Fridays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
From Labor Day until the end of March, the business is also open from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
The business is at 1623 1/2 Buckhannon Pike.
“It’s next to RG Honda in the basement in the rear of the carpet building,” Lewark said.
Brewing five gallons of beer takes about five hours over the course of a month, Lewark said.
At The Cellar, he sells the supplies needed to home brew, including malt extract, hops, yeast and a fermenter.
As the beer ferments for three to four weeks, brewers use a hydrometer to determine how far along in the process the fermentation is, Lewark said.
“It’s not guesswork,” he said. “Home fermenting will teach you patience.”
Winemaking is about a four- to six-month process, exclusive of aging, he said.
At The Cellar, he sells kits for fruit wine and grape wine, as well as bottles.
Wine also has to be put in the fermenter.
Buyers can make five to six gallons of wine at a time, equal to 25 to 30 bottles, he said.
Depending on preferences, equipment for both beer and wine runs from $80 to $100, according to Lewark.
He said he will order whatever ingredients are preferred, so wine ingredients could run from $30 to $150 and beer ingredients could run from $25 to $45.
Most customers are happy with their results, according to Lewark.
If not, he tries to help them figure out what happened.
“It’s both an art and a science,” he said. “Sometimes things don’t go according to plan.”
He refers to Eric Watson, who now brews professionally and designs distilleries, as one of his star pupils.
“Basically, it was sort of hand holding,” Watson said. “He wrote directions out to help me make the best beverage I could, and it worked out.”
Watson took to the process and now has a degree in brewing from the Siebel Institute of Technology and World Brewing Academy in Chicago, as well as his own business, AlBevCon LLC.
He is also a judge for the World Beer Cup.
Sofranko, who went to college with Lewark in the 1970s, said they started brewing together right after it became legal in 1978.
While many West Virginians buy their home brew supplies online, The Cellar is unique because the supplies are sold in West Virginia, Sofranko said.
“The thing about Tod is he hasn’t changed,” Sofranko said. “He’s just there because he enjoys what he does. What has changed is his experience. Anyone who walks in can ask him questions on a brewing or winemaking topic and he pretty much knows the answer.”
Staff writer Erin Beck can be reached at (304) 626-1439 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn how to brew your own beer! We’ll teach you all the basics to get you up and running while brewing a batch of beer. You’ll learn about extract brewing, malts, grains, yeasts and how to avoid or troubleshoot the most common problems. All reference materials will be provided as well as a home brew sample for tasting! We’ll have starter kits available for purchase. Beginners welcome!
To redeem a Living social Voucher Please use the voucher number in the eventbright promo code area.
Class is held At Bitter Esters, 700 Washington Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11238
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