My girlfriend and I are homebrewers, and we own a corney keg. We don’t have the rest of the equipment at this point to use it. I was wondering, in the mean time can I use an empty 5 litre keg (heineken, etc.) to dispense home brew? I don’t even need to buy one, because the beverage store supplies me with empties, even grolch bottles! Thank you beer belly bob’s. Friends that taste our beer ask us to bring it to parties, because we have gotten very experienced at the hobby. This would be pretty convienent, even after we puchase the rest of the equipment for the corney keg system, because of portability.
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Dr. David Price says there’s something satisfying about creating something for oneself.
Off and on for nearly three decades, the head and neck surgery specialist has brewed his own beer. For the last few years, he said, he’s also made his own cheeses. His hobbies produce something he can consume and share with friends — and something they can’t get anywhere else.
“If you have a beer that you’ve made and it’s the best thing you’ve ever had in your life, or a cheese, it just gives you a sense of accomplishment,” Price said. “It’s also quite a joy to share with friends.”
Price said his interest in brewing beer began when he was a college student in the 1970s. Because of his background in chemistry, he said, he’s always been interested in the processes and ingredients that go into making food and beverages.
He reignited his interest in the craft in the 1990s.
About six to eight weekends a year, Price spends his free time brewing 5 gallons of beer, some which can last up to five months. He can’t sell his home-brew without proper licensing, so he serves his beer at home to his friends.
Nearly 1 million Americans are home brewers, said Gary Glass, director of the American Homebrewers Association. In the last five years, Glass said, the craft has experienced a trend in growth of 10 percent to 20 percent annually. From 2009 to 2010, home-brew supply retail sales increased 16 percent in gross revenue.
Contributing factors to the increase include the economy and a general trend toward doing things locally, Glass said.
“In terms of beer, you can certainly support a local brewery, but you’re not going to get any more local than brewing at home,” he said.
A survey of members of the association, which Price is not affiliated with, showed that many love the art of home-brewing and the chance to create a beer to their personal taste, Glass said.
Local business Wholesome Homebrew has offered workshops to teach people how to brew beer and other beverages.
Owner Andie Sterling said that for many people, the ability to be in control of the foods and drinks that go into their bodies is helping spark the interest.
In an all-grain beer brewing process, Price said he uses equipment he made himself. He takes malt barley grains and grinds them, then combines the grains with water in a vessel that converts the mixture to malt sugar.
He then collects the liquid, boils it and adds hops — some of which he grows at his home in Denton. The hops not only “bitter” the beer but add aroma, he said.
“People are getting away from the light, fizzy lager beers,” Price said. “What you’re seeing as the main interest home brewers have is a full-bodied beer that’s ‘hoppier.’”
After boiling, he rapidly cools the mixture before adding yeast to ferment it. The process before fermentation, he said, takes about five hours or so.
“It’s about the same time to play a round of golf, and to make cheese it takes about the same time,” Price said.
He said he usually allows the beer to ferment from a week to a month before bottling it or putting it into a keg.
One can have drinkable ale within a week or a lager in about a month, he said.
Price is currently fermenting a Belgian saison and an ale with pumpkin that he calls “Saison of the Witch,” brewed with Halloween in mind.
Unlike major manufacturers, which brew beer for profit and go for consistency and efficiency, home brewers strive to make the best beer they can, Price said. On average, he’ll spend $30 on the best grains, hops and yeast he can find to brew 5 gallons of beer, he said.
“You get pretty spoiled once you’ve been a home brewer or a craft brewer,” he said.
Cheese generally takes 60 days to mature, Price said. His creations have included cream cheese, brie, farmer’s cheese and mozzarella. The process generally requires a bacterial culture, various molds and rennet — an enzyme that coagulates the cheese — and farm milk, which he purchases through a co-op group.
Store-bought milk is ultra-pasteurized and can’t be curdled into cheese, Price said.
Lew Taylor, a longtime friend who often assists Price in brewing beer, said no two beers they create are the same, which makes the experience a lot of fun.
“It tends to be more unique than what you get in the store,” Taylor said. “It’s fresh. The more fresh the beer is, the better the beer — great flavor, all that stuff. It’s got your personal touch.”
Taylor said they enjoy a lot of laughs while brewing and talk while munching on some of Price’s homemade cheeses, which he calls “fabulous.”
Working alongside Price, Taylor said, he sees the smart detail, meticulousness and love for the craft that his friend possesses. Price brings his knowledge of chemistry to make for a better product, Taylor said.
Price’s wife, Mia, who serves as Denton school board president, said brewing beer and making cheese allow her husband to combine his love of science with his natural creativity.
He’s also a “people person,” she said, and in creating his own food and beverages, he has the opportunity to share his creations with others.
David Price’s hobbies don’t stop with cheese and beer. He also enjoys roasting his own coffee beans, designing stained glass and tending to orchids.
Recently, he built a backyard fireplace and oven that he’s used to make his own pizza.
“It’s amazing to find someone that’s not simply focused on one thing,” Taylor said. “He’s a Renaissance man.”
BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
While Prospect Heights is already steadily becoming a destination for foodies (see James, Dean Street and The Vanderbilt, for example), local friends Douglas Amport and John LaPolla are hoping to make it a haven for beer aficionados, too.
The two business partners are set to debut Bitter and Esters, which will be both a supply shop for beer brewing as well as an on-premise brewery with a soft opening set for July 2.
The store, at 700 Washington Ave. between Prospect Place and St. Mark’s Avenue, will sell everything for novice and experienced brewers, as well as host classes and tasting sessions. But what the owners hope sets them apart form other local brewing supply stores is the opportunity for customers to brew their own beer at the store.
The name Bitter and Esters comes from “the two flavors and aromas in a beer,” said Amport. “If one is out of whack, it makes the beer taste weird.”
“It represents the balance and craftsmanship of beer,” he added.
Amport said that while there are other brewshops in the area, like Brooklyn Homebrew in Gowanus, none so far offer the ability for customers to brew their own beer at the store.
LaPolla has been brewing beer for 15 years, while Amport made his own wine for seven years and beer for the past three. Both looking for a new challenge, they started dreaming up an idea for a “brewing hacker space,” much like NYC Resistor.
“But we couldn’t figure out how to make that profitable,” said Amport.
The pair tweaked the idea into creating a brew on premises space, along with a retail store for brewing supplies and an area for classes and tastings.
Amport said he knows there are risks involved in opening a specialty shop in a shaky economy–especially when he has a new 18-month-old baby girl at home. Amport also recently left a career in digital marketing to focus on the store full-time. LaPolla stills works as an offset printer, but hopes to make the jump to full-time entrepreneurship soon.
“It’s a tricky time to take risks,” Amport said, “But the opportunity (for the store) presented itself. We’ve been seeing a craft brew renaissance.”
As Prospect Heights residents themselves–Amport lives on Eastern Parkway at Washington and LaPolla on Park Place and Washington–Amport said it was a no-brainer to open their store locally.
“We could have opened it anywhere, really, but we just think this is such a vibrant neighborhood,” he said. “There’s that blend of community and cool things happening.”
“And there’s foot traffic, with all of the tourists that visit the park and the museum,” he added. “That’s a sound economic reason right there.”
Amport said he and LaPolla hope to create a space that has all of the equipment that an experienced brewer would need, but is welcoming to beginners, too.
“We just want to get people brewing, and know what goes into their beer. If you’re a novice, we’ll give you a recipe and show you the steps,” said Amport.
For about $150-175, depending on ingredients, a brewer (or a group) can schedule time at the shop to brew six cases of their own custom batch of beer. The whole process takes about a month, between fermenting, chilling and bottling.
For those that are more into the science of brewing, Bitter and Esters plans to host classes and workshops, on topics like grains, malts and hops, DIY equipment-making, tastings, and possibly even a winemaking class.
“And when people aren’t in class, they can come here and mess around (with recipes). There will be tables out back where you can just have a beer and talk homebrewing with other people,” said Amport, on his hopes for the evolution of the space.
For now, soft opening of Bitter and Esters is planned for July 2, when the retail store will be stocked and operational. The brew-on-premises option will take some time to set up, but the pair have already tipped their Kickstarter funding goal of at least $4,000 (as of the last day, they were up to $4,445).
“When everything’s set up, we’ll have a big brewing event,” said Amport.
In the meantime, he remains confident that the store will have a successful opening, and attract Brooklyn’s homebrewers.
“If even a third of the people on the street come in, we’ll be fine,” he said.
Bitter and Esters, 700 Washington Ave. between St. Marks and Prospect Place, will be open Tuesday through Sunday noon to 8 p.m. 917-596-7261
By LYNDSAY CAYETANA BOUCHAL
SPARTA — When a group of local friends and beer enthusiasts teamed up to brew their own grog — a high gravity Belgium Quad — and it tasted spectacular, their immediate reaction was: Let’s start a brewery!
When emotions leveled and reality reeled them back in, two of the friends, 38-year-old Scott Begraft, of Stillwater, and 50-year-old Mike Pippitt, of Newton, came up with a new plan to open a local home brewery supplies and advice shop called North Jersey HomeBrew.
Begraft said the idea sprung about three months after he and friends began brewing their own apricot Indian pale ales, dark blackberry wheats, noted craft beer clones and other dark German classics.
“One day something broke (in the brewing kit),” Begraft recalled. “We thought, if there was a store close by we could just go and grab the part.”
But Begraft said the closest home brewing supplies stores are hour-long drives to Clifton or Easton, Pa. Pippitt added, the stores’ selections were limited.
Rather than purchasing something online and over-nighting it, or having to plan a trip outside the county, Pippitt and Begraft decided to open their own shop for locals.
“Everybody I’ve talked to knows somebody who makes wine or beer (in the area),” Begraft said.
“It’s really cool, it’s really a niche thing, but it’s growing,” he said.
North Jersey HomeBrew neighbors The Bagel Station on Route 15 in Sparta and is expected to open Saturday, July 16, with live demonstrations of home brewing at the grand opening. Store hours have not yet been determined; however, Begraft said North Jersey HomeBrew will likely be open until 8 p.m. for people to stop by conveniently after work.
“The attraction to the store is we will have experienced people there to talk about home brewing,” Begraft said. “People can learn how to make it there.”
Begraft said his passion for craft beers began years ago when he was first introduced to Blue Moon, a Belgium-style wheat ale. His tastes have since been more refined, recently purchasing a $180 6-pack of Belgium Trappist Westvleeteren, one of the rarest beers in the world, that can now only be bought off the black market, he said, or a $120 12-ounce bottle of Scottish BrewDog’s Sink the Bismarck.
Realizing the escalating expenses associated with his taste for extravagant craft beer, the hops connoisseur and friends decided to cut costs by make their own. Begraft said his favorite beer, Rochefort Trappistes 10, sells for $6.99 per 11.2-ounce bottle, or about $168 for a 24-bottle case. When he finishes cloning the 41-percent alcohol I.P.A., it will have cost him $50 for two cases, he said.
Begraft and Pippitt have each sampled more than 300 craft beers. They also take photographs of each to document their taste bud trials.
North Jersey HomeBrew will also sell wine-making kits and have a wine-making specialist on hand to assist any inquisitive customers.
“We want to encourage people to brew their own beer and we’ll have all the supplies for them to do that,” Begraft said.
The Sparta store will supply three types of beer brewing kits, from the basic starter kit to the high quality equipment. North Jersey HomeBrew will also keep stocked all the necessary hops, malts, sugars, grains, yeasts, fruit flavorings, labelless bottles and about 20 different style ingredient kits to make anything from Russian imperial stouts to Dunkelweizens. Begraft noted that prices will be competitive, equivalent or cheaper to equipment and ingredients found online.
Weekly classes will also be offered to teach novice and advances home brewers the tricks of the trade.
Begraft will also transport his basement brewery to the basement of his Sparta store to give customers visual demonstrations and ideas of what the home brewing experience is like.
“Ours is pretty extravagant, but you really don’t need much (to brew at home),” he said.
The Sparta home brew shop will also feature a lounge area as you first walk in to sample some of Begraft and Pippitt’s products. Pippitt said he is looking forward to sharing tips and learning from other local brewers.
“Once you get started, you’re hooked forever,” Pippitt said. “You can’t wait until the next weekend when you go and brew another beer.”
For more information about North Jersey HomeBrew, located at 354 Lafayette Road (Route 15) in Sparta, call, 973-383-BREW (2739) or visit, www.njhomebrew.com.
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