Sometimes it may seem like beer at the bar is too expensive, and even store-bought beer can cost a bit more than you are willing to pay.
Collin Gaudard, a senior graphic communication major, has solved this dilemma by brewing his own beer.
“I found out that my dad had home brewing equipment, and I had heard it was relatively inexpensive to do,” Gaudard said. “So, I figured I wouldn’t mind having a bunch of good beer around that I don’t have to pay too much for.”
Brewing kits are an easy way to get started in beer making. They cost between $20 and $40 and come with every tool and ingredient needed.
Buying the individual tools and ingredients may be less expensive but usually come in bulk quantities.
“Beer making can range from simple kits containing only a few ingredients to a very complex process with lots of steps and many variables to take into account,” Gaudard said. “It all depends on what you want out of your beer.”
Whichever process is taken, Gaudard said he has an enjoyable time making beer.
“The brewing process is a blast in itself,” Gaudard said. “It’s like cooking a complex meal for four hours, and there’s a lot of downtime so you get to sit around and drink and talk beer while you watch your beer come together.”
While the simpler kits may have fewer steps and are easier to put together, either way, sanitation is an important part of successfully making beer.
“Sanitation: it is absolutely the most crucial part of the process,” Gaudard said. “Everything that comes in contact with your beer must be completely sterile or there is a good chance you are going to spoil your beer.”
Without sterile instruments and workplace, there is a chance that bacteria and other organisms could get into the beer, causing the flavor to turn sour.
Aside from that risk, Gaudard said he enjoys making beer frequently and has tried many flavors.
“So far I’ve mostly stuck to darker beers like brown ales, porters and things like that because that’s mainly what I’m into,” Gaudard said. “I’m really excited to try a recipe for an IPA (India Pale Ale) I recently created, as well as a few other lighter-bodied beers.”
While making beer seems like an exact science, it does not take away from the brewer’s creativity, if they know what they want.
“In every batch I try and add a little something extra like ginger, clove, vanilla, hazelnut and so on,” Gaudard said. “It just makes the beers a little bit more interesting.”
Gaudard said beer is not the only thing he is interested in making, as far as alcohol goes.
“I’ve made a hard cider before,” Gaudard said. “This summer, I’m planning on apprenticing under the winemaker at the winery I work at during my summers.”
Each summer, Gaudard works at the Forty-Five North Vineyard and Winery in Traverse City, Mich.
Gaudard is not the only one in Marquette who brews his own beer. Blackrocks Brewery and the Vierling Restaurant are some of the local businesses that brew and sell their own beers. White’s Party Store on Third Street sells home brewing supplies.
“Support your local breweries and home brewers,” Gaudard said. “And just relax, have a home brew and enjoy.”
OCEAN CITY — It’s up to you whether to try for a dark smoky porter, crisp hoppy India Pale Ale, or something completely different — like an oud bruin with figs and raspberries.
Home brewing, already an obsession for many, is finding more adherents on the Lower Shore. With several established and emerging breweries around the area, the hobby is attracting experienced beer makers and seeing more who are just discovering the craft.
“It’s picking up,” Pete Fischer said of his business selling starter brewing kits at his Salisbury Tru-Arc welding shop. “I just brew as a hobby and noticed there was nobody else around selling the products for it.”
Preferring to make wine himself, Fischer also brews beer, which he said can be more complex for beginners due to the need to cook it.
“It’s the same basic process though,” he said. “Both go through fermentation.”
While many get started with the type of kits sold by Fischer, Michael Piorunski, who works for Migrant Clinicians Network, said he found much of his equipment on Craigslist.
“I started getting into it because I had an interest in craft beer,” he said. “Then I read quite a few books on beer brewing, went out a beer festival out in Portland, watched some pretty intense demonstrations and tasted some really great beer. So I came back and decided I was going to piece together a home brew operation.”
When making your own beer, the variables can seem overwhelming: the temperatures, ingredients and timing of the process all effect the taste. But, Piorunski said, one thing should come first.
“Cleanliness is key. I think that’s the most important thing people tend to forget,” he said. “Also, simplicity. Extreme beers are fun to talk about and crazy ingredients are great. But if you try to do that at home, sometimes the results aren’t what you would expect.”
By starting with a simple recipe, he said you can establish a foundation.
“Complexity is great and plenty of people make very complex beers,” he said. “The challenge is making it complex but not convoluted. That is the key. When you have a really good French baguette it doesn’t have much but water, yeast, salt and flour. But when you have that balance right, you know it.”
An added benefit of brewing at home, he said, is a greater appreciation for the skill of professional brewers.
“Once you start making beer you begin understanding what goes into it, what brings a specific flavor profile to a beer,” he said. “Things like mash temperature — one of the beer-making processes is creating a mash. You steep grain in hot water to convert starches to sugars — there are variations in that process that brewers can make. The brewer has control over that, and so he has control over flavors. You can influence dryness or maltiness with variations in mash temperature and mash duration.”
Popularized in part by Dogfish Head Brewery and owner Sam Calagione’s Discovery Channel show Brewmasters, unorthodox ingredients from around the world have become a big part of many brewers’ quest for new flavors.
“Crazy ingredients have always been part of home brewing.” Piorunski said. “Lately, I’ve seen more exotic grains and things like that. It’s also just the influence of globalization.”
More often, he said beer allows people to experience familiar ingredients in new ways — like adding pumpkin to the boil.
Another pursuit of home brewers is trying to replicate water from specific locales. By adding certain minerals to water, beers made on the Lower Shore can approximate tastes found in beer destinations worldwide.
While most home brewers stick with equipment similar to the simple kits, Piorunski said some build elaborate systems.
“People really build some crazy setups. Some really try to build brewing systems that replicate what you would find in a commercial brewery,” he said. “There’s two schools of thought on that in the home brewing world.”
Closer to Piorunski’s style is the notion that you’re not going to be able to replicate commercial brewery conditions. He said what’s important is brewing with skill, cleanliness, sanitation and temperature control.
“I’ve got a 15-gallon brew kettle and a pretty serious propane burner,” he said. “I got the kettle and burner off Craigslist half-price. I also have a bunch of fermenters and soda kegs for fermenting and conditioning beer. I got them from various people who just had them sitting in their basement.”
While it can take a bit of money to put your first home brewery together, brewers said beer becomes fairly cheap to make once you’re into it. An added benefit, Piorunski said, is being able to trade your beer for other goods — he trades his for fresh duck eggs and other produce.
As far as inspiration is concerned, he said one of the best home brewers in the area is Joseph Lemnah, whose day job is with Evolution Craft Brewing Co., which is currently based in Delmar but is moving to Salisbury.
Visit hopfentreader.com to read more about Lemnah and his recipes, including the oud bruin with figs and raspberries. Visit www.easternshorewineandbeersupply.com for more on the kits available at Fischer’s shop.
In a back room at Appalachian Brew Pub in Collegeville, amid towers of plastic cups, a dozen tall, dark, unmarked bottles await a turn in the spotlight.
One by one, the bottles are opened, poured, and studied. As noses dive deep into cups of amber brew, few words are spoken. One or two people close their eyes, analyzing, savoring, before they take a sip.
The contents of each cup represent hours of isolated toil and, at this, the monthly meeting of the Stoney Creek Homebrewers Club, each member has the chance to get and give advice. The highest praise and the sharpest criticism are followed by efforts to deconstruct the brewing process.
With a membership of 25, the club, which began in 2007 with six members, has taken off in a way that mirrors the growth of home brewing throughout the region.
There are now nearly a dozen clubs in the region, with Bruclear in Limerick, Berks Homebrew Club, and Main Line Brewers Association having formed since Stoney Creek’s inception. This means there are now more club-sponsored competitions, as well as more participants.
New home-brew stores, such as Weak Knee in Pottstown and Artisan Homebrew in Downingtown, have opened. And Jason Harris, who has a store in Bethlehem, upgraded and expanded his Montgomery Keystone Homebrew store, moving into a 24,000-square-foot space. All of those stores complement the pioneering stalwart of supply stores, Home Sweet Homebrew at 20th and Sansom (see accompanying story).
There’s also an ever-increasing number of contests that breweries both local and national are hosting throughout the region.
But more dramatic is the increase in attendance for the area’s flagship amateur brewing competition: War of the Worts, hosted by Keystone. In 2008, there were roughly 460 entrants; last year, participation was up to 765. And more than 900 entrants are expected at this year’s War competition on Saturday.
Dock Street offers a West Philly-only home brewers competition. Dogfish Head hosts the Extreme Homebrew Challenge, with the winner getting to brew at its facility – and have the end result featured at its brewpub.
Last year’s Philly Beer Week saw the first Iron Brewer Competition. Hosted by the Farmer’s Cabinet, this “beat the brewer” competition features the last-minute naming of a secret ingredient or adjunct, Iron Chef-style.
Sierra Nevada and Sam Adams have been hosting competitions here for years, and for further evidence of cooperation between the pros and the home-brew scene, magazines such as Brew Your Own have published recipes from the likes of Victory Brewing Co.
“The craft beer community was born out of home brewing,” says Larry Horwitz, regional brewer at Iron Hill Brewery.
Much like Iron Hill’s founders Kevin Finn and Mark Edelson, he got his start in home brewing – and he hasn’t left it behind.
“It’s our roots, so we try to support home-brew clubs at each of our locations,” Horwitz says. “We give home-brew ingredients to all of our employees and encourage them to make their own.”
Other area brewers who started at home: Tom Kehoe of Yards, Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski of Victory, and Jason Kohser of Boxcar Brewing of West Chester.
Home brewer Scott Ruddich, a Stoney Creek member, is awaiting state approvals to open his retail operation, Round Guys Brewing, in Lansdale. “Pretty much everyone I’ve come across has been incredibly helpful, since they started the same way,” he says.
He points to Horwitz’s pivotal role in training so many beer judges across the region with frequently held classes.
Then there’s the crucial advice he received from Kohser at Boxcar, as well as Rob Demaria at Prism on the logistics of opening a brewery; the tour of Victory Brewing Co., where Stoney Creek Homebrewer members chatted with the head brewer for two hours; or the highly technical question that was readily answered, via e-mail, by brew master Vinne Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing Co. (Santa Rosa, Calif.).
“Vinnie Cilurzo’s a . . . rock star,” said Ruddich. “That just does not happen in other fields.”
Staying connected only makes sense given that’s it good, quality beer that binds the pros and the home brewers together.
“Only recently have mainstream brewers been willing to expand their beer offerings – to add something with flavor. That’s because of the grassroots effort that changed everything,” Horwitz says.
Justin Quinlan, an assistant brewer at Dock Street, agrees: “Without this community, we wouldn’t be able to survive,” he says.
Indeed, every brewer he’s worked with at Dock Street since the brewery’s move to West Philly got a start in home brewing.
Quinlan jumped on as an occasional volunteer, slowly working his way up, gaining more and more insight into the brewing process until he was hired full time.
“With Dock Street being a smaller brewery, it’s not that dissimilar to home brewing – it’s very hands-on, lugging around bags of grain and monitoring temperatures. . . .”
“Most of these people are our raving fans, so why wouldn’t we help them?” Horwitz says, laughing.
Jay Webster and Victor Hnyp are ready to tap into the home brewing market.
Two weeks ago, they moved their NorCal Brewing Solutions store from Parkview Avenue behind the Redding Library to the Shasta Center on Churn Creek Road.
The 8,000-square-foot space is nearly seven times larger than the old spot, where the store had been supplying home hobbyists with ingredients and equipment to make beer and wine since 2009.
But come fall, the grains, malts, starter kits, bottles and tanks Webster and Hnyp sell will share space with a beer and wine bar serving homemade ales and vintages. The bar side of the business will be called NorCal Brewery and Winery.
“We really, really want to push the home-brewing aspect of this,” Webster said.
Working with an on-site master brewer, home brewers, who will be hand-picked, will have their creations for sale on tap. The home brews will share tap space with a market-brand beer.
So a homemade India pale ale might be complemented by a Lagunitas IPA for customers to compare and contrast.
Each featured home brew will be accompanied by the recipe. That way would-be brewers could buy the ingredients to make their own, Webster said.
All the beer will be made at the brewery and sold only by the pint. Wines will be sold only by the glass.
Webster said both the brewery and winery will be licensed and bonded. They also are applying to the California Alcoholic Beverage Control for a small-beer manufacturing, or Type 23, license.
Home brewers whose beers are sold won’t get a share of the sales, but they will be compensated in some way, Webster said.
“We need to stay within the legal limits of what we can do,” Webster said.
Hnyp believes the craft brewery market is so competitive that if the brewery made its own beer and sold it, NorCal Brewery and Wine Bar would be just another microbrewery.
“We want to connect with people that are enthusiastic about the home beer and wine making to stop in when they are driving through Redding,” Hnyp said.
Plans are to buy billboard space along Interstate 5 to grab travelers off the highway.
NorCal Brewing Solutions is in the former Clyde’s Next Generation Home Entertainment Center space. Clyde’s moved to Bechelli Lane in Redding across the street from Nello’s Place Italian restaurant.
Originally, Webster had partnered with Jack Goschke to form the California Brewing Co. five years ago. They envisioned opening a microbrewery in Redding, but instead opened a home brewing supply store under the California Brewing Co. name on Parkview Avenue.
The store closed in August 2009, Webster and Goschke parted ways before Webster reopened the store under the name NorCal Brewing Solutions with Hnyp.
Hnyp and his wife, Tina, own the California Décor Store, an online retailer that used to have a storefront in the Market Street Promenade in downtown Redding before it closed last February.
Meanwhile, Goschke has resurrected his California Brewing Co. idea and recently started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for his project.
Goschke hopes to start production by the end of this year.
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Ryan Will’s basement looks a bit like a mad scientist’s laboratory.
The Fond du Lac resident said he gets a kick out of mixing up batches of his own pale, golden ale.
“There’s a lot more flavor in it than a typical Budweiser or Miller and you get the satisfaction of knowing you made it yourself,” he said.
Will, who serves as vice president of Central Wisconsin Vinters Brewers, is among home brewers lifting a glass in support of a bill currently before the State Legislature that would lift restrictions prohibiting homebrew from being transported outside of the home where it was made.
Bill LRB 3101, sponsored by Senator Michael Ellis, R-Neenah, and Rep. Dean Kaufert, R-Neenah, would allow home brewers to resume what they had been doing for decades, until last year.
In 2011 the Wisconsin Department of Revenue determined that the existing law prohibits homebrew from being removed from the residence of the maker. Prior to this decision, home brewers had been hosting homebrew competitions and sharing their libations at homebrew club meetings — common practices for home brewers in other states.
“Given Wisconsin’s longstanding brewing tradition, it is unthinkable that Wisconsin law restricts home brewers far beyond what federal law and most other state laws allow,” said Mike Engel, president of the Society of Oshkosh Brewers. “Our club has had to curtail many of our regular activities, most notably an event designed to raise money for the benefit of local children’s education programs, as a result of this newly discovered law.”
Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, R-Fond du Lac, signed on to be a cosponsor of this bill after being contacted by several local home-brew enthusiasts.
“I think the bill will be especially beneficial by enhancing the ability of these citizens to be able to set up at varying community fairs to promote their hobby. Most of these fairs benefit nonprofit causes and with the difficult economy have been struggling to fill their booths. These are brewers who do not sell their products and make no profits. It is truly a hobby and ought to be treated as such with reasonable requirements,” Thiesfeldt said.
With a name like Rachel Beer, you pretty much have to assume that brewing is in her blood. And so it is, but apparently she’s lacking the Y chromosome to do it, according to the officials at an Australian home brewing competition.
Despite making multiple batches of her own brew over the last few years, Lake Hayes AP Show in Queenstown has denied her request to be judged in their annual contest, saying it’s only for men.
According to the NZ Herald News, “Who cares if I have or haven’t got balls?” she fumed. “At the end of the day a home brew is a home brew.”
Contest officials have asked her to put in a request for a “ladies” or a special “mixed sex” bracket next year, rather than stating the obvious — there’s no reason gender would make any difference in the brewing of beer and as such, no reason to have a men’s only bracket in the first place. Does there really need to be a separate contest as if there’s a “bitches brew?”
According to Martin Bulmer, of the Society of Beer Advocates, women make up 10 percent of the society’s 500 members. That’s a lot of women to make hopping mad.
One of the organisers of the Lake Hayes AP Show
beer-brewing competition, accused of making it “men only”, has
invited the woman turned away from the event to give him a
Accusations of sexism were levelled after Queenstown woman
Rachel Beer (36) was told this week she could not enter
today’s competition because it was restricted to males.
Show president Mike Smith claimed yesterday the issue had
been “taken a wee bit out of context.” Acknowledging the
competition was strictly for males at this point, Mr Smith
said the home-brew contest was organised to encourage
“blokes” to enter the pavilion section of the show.
However, the committee was open to suggestions from the
community about future contests at the show and this would
include any from Miss Beer.
“If Rachel – I think that was the name of the girl – has got
some good suggestions in the future she can bring it to the
committee and we can cater to everyone’s needs.”
To Mr Smith’s knowledge, it would be the show’s first
home-brewing competition and he would not rule out a late
entry from Miss Beer.
“If Rachel would like to give me a call, I’m sure we could
sort something out.”
DB Breweries managing director Brian Blake yesterday labelled
the attitude of the show organisers “archaic”.
“Women have been making a huge contribution to the New
Zealand brewing industry for decades and DB has many women
working in senior brewing and management roles.”
Mr Blake said he would be contacting Miss Beer personally to
invite her to DB’s Timaru or Auckland breweries “just to
reiterate that it doesn’t matter to DB whether she is female
Miss Beer could not be reached yesterday.
WELLINGTON Jan 13 (Reuters) – A New Zealand woman has
been barred from a beer-brewing contest, because she’s not a
WELLINGTON Jan 13 (Reuters) – A New Zealand woman has
Rachel Beer tried to enter the home-brewing competition in
the Lake Hayes Agricultural show being held in the South Island
adventure tourist centre of Queenstown this weekend.
However, she was told if she entered a beer it would not be
judged because the contest was for “blokes only”.
“There’s no point entering a beer if it’s not going to be
judged whether it’s gold or mud,” Beer told the Mountain Scene
“At the end of the day a home brew is a home brew.”
Sex discrimination is illegal in New Zealand, but the
government agency administering the laws said it would need a
complaint before it could act.
Beer, whose tipple goes by the name of Beer’s Beer, said she
would not make a formal complaint but press the organisers to
change the rules or have a competition for women.
“I’m sure the show can make room for it in the next round,”
said Mike Smith, president of the show’s organising committee.
New Zealand was the first western country to give women the
vote in national elections, in 1893. At one stage, the country’s
top political, constitutional, and judicial posts were all held
Some kids grow up wanting to be lawyers. Others aspire to be teachers. Still others choose to follow their parents into the family business or to pursue independent careers.
Few, however, dream they will brew beer for a living.
Luckily for frequenters of Westchester bars, Scott Vaccaro was one of those precious few.
With Vaccaro, 33, at the helm, the Captain Lawrence Brewing Co. is set to christen its new home in Elmsford this month, enabling the company to brew five times as much beer as it could at its Pleasantville location.
Now six years into the brewery’s existence, Vaccaro – a new father, to boot – said there is more work than ever as he looks to make Captain Lawrence a household name among Westchesterites. In addition to restaurants, the beer is available in some retail stores.
When he does take a moment to step back and look at how far he personally and the company as a whole have collectively come, though, he said the feeling is one of awe.
“I feel very blessed. I feel very fortunate. There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not amazed,” he said.
Captain Lawrence Brewing Co. will begin to produce beer at the new location and simultaneously stop brewing in Pleasantville Jan. 9, with the Elmsford tasting room tentatively scheduled to open Jan. 19.
The thought of home-brewing beer first occurred to Vaccaro as a senior in high school in 1995 when he visited a friend’s house and noticed the father making a home brew on the kitchen stovetop.
Fast-forward 11 years, and Vaccaro’s journey took him from the family’s home on Captain Lawrence Drive in South Salem, to the University of California at Davis, where he majored in fermentation science, and to the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in Chico, Calif., before he came back East to work at the Colorado Brewery and Steakhouse in Danbury, Conn.
After the Colorado Brewery closed, Vaccaro approached his family with the idea of founding a brewery, and on the eve of the 2006 Super Bowl the Captain Lawrence Brewing Co. opened its tasting room to customers.
Market saturation the goal
The challenge since then has been convincing bar and restaurant owners – and their customers – to rally behind the new brewery.
“I remember very clearly: Before opening, my father said, ‘I know you can make great beer, but can you sell it?’” Vaccaro said.
So far, the answer has been “yes.”
In the company’s first year, it brewed 600 barrels of beer (one barrel equals 31 gallons). In 2011, some 9,000 barrels of Captain Lawrence beer were produced and Vaccaro said with plans to start packaging beer in 12-ounce bottles this year, total output could double by the end of 2012.
“We’re hoping for 100 percent growth with the bottles,” he said. Currently some 98 percent of the beer sold by the brewery is in draft form, but with the move to expand bottling operations that the new facility offers, Vaccaro said he hopes to even out the ratio of draft to bottled beer.
“It depends on when we get them out. If we start in the second quarter, we’d like to get to 70-30 (draft to bottled) and the next year get up to 50-50 but it could happen faster.”
With close to 1,000 client accounts, Vaccaro said the temptation is to expand marketing efforts to include areas further away from the New York metropolitan area but for now the only concern is increasing product saturation in current markets.
“We’re fully in the lower 15 counties (of New York). Manhattan is our biggest market. But the farther you get from home, the less ‘local’ matters.”
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