beer makers are turning
hobby into nationwide craze
leads demand for
brews with a personal touch
(July 2010) Picture visitors at a beautiful
brick home with a well manicured and landscaped lawn. They walk inside
and admire the elegant, artfully arranged décor and smell the
rich, deep aroma of freshly brewed beer?
For friends and family of home beer brewing enthusiasts like Cross Plains,
Ind., insurance agent Bruce Murray, that scene is not all that unusual.
Its something I started doing for fun, and now Im
hooked, Murray said.
In that past decade, home beer brewing has become a fast growing phenomenon
pouring throughout the country. Murray is among thousands of people
from all walks of life who have taken up the hobby. Its become
so popular, home beer brewing supply shops and home brewing clubs have
sprung up everywhere. Seminars, conferences and even competitions have
become readily available.
Home brewing for personal or family use is federally legal, thanks to
a 1979 law signed by President Jimmy Carter.
Murray of Cross Plains, Ind.,
makes home brewed beer for
himself and his friends to enjoy.
It has been legally permitted in Indiana since 1999. In
fact, Indiana is home to one of the largest competitions in the country.
This year, the Indiana State Fair Brewers Cup, scheduled for July 9-10,
is expecting nearly 1,000 professional and amateur entries from around
Home beer brewing is not just a trend, said event organizer
Anita Johnson, who also worked to make home brewing legal in Indiana.
Its a lifestyle. Once people taste home brew, they dont
want to go back to regular beer. Home brew is just so tasty.
Johnson, a home brewer herself, is also the owner of home brew supply
company Great Fermentation, located in Indianapolis. She opened her
shop in 1995 and said in the past decade she has seen the home beer
brewing industry increase 50 percent. She has 5,000 active Indiana home
brewers on her mailing list.
Its the flavor, she said. She used an analogy of breads
to explain. White bread has no flavor; you eat it to put your
spreads on. But other breads, like sourdough and nine grain, are rich
with flavor. You eat those because they taste good.
Johnson said there are 72 different styles of beer, and most home brewers
tailor their beer to whatever flavor they prefer.
Flavor is the marriage between hops and malt. There is an infinite
array between flavor and tastes that can be had.
Beer is actually made up of four main ingredients: hops, barley malt,
yeast for fermentation and water.
She also explained the relationship between craft beers, microbreweries
and home brewing. There is a symbiotic relationship between craft
and home beers, she said. Craft beers, such as Samuel Adams,
started as home beers. Now, craft beers and microbreweries are stirring
up interest in beer lovers who want to go home and create their own
home brews. Microbreweries are craft breweries that create a limited
amount of beer.
by Don Ward
Koerner of Madison found a
Mr. Beer kit on the Internet and
makes his home brewed beer
right in his kitchen.
But if beers lovers dont really understand the difference
between lagers, pilsners, ales, stouts or porters, they dont need
to panic. Johnson said its relatively inexpensive and easy to
start home brewing. There are classes all across the state at
many supply shops and clubs, and it costs less than $100 to buy a kit
to get started. Its really easier when you watch how it is done.
She suggested people consider joining a home brew club, of which there
are at least 15 in the state. We get together, and of course,
drink beer, she said. But we also, study and discuss methods,
trade tips and have a good time. Its a good way to get involved.
Murray has been brewing his own beer since about 2000. My older
brother said hed like to try it, he said. He ended
up creating a monster. Brewing my own beer has become a borderline passion.
Once a month, he brews about 10 gallons and stores them in mini kegs.
He said it takes a few hours to mix up a batch, 10 days to ferment,
10 days to carbonate and 10 days to condition. He keeps a record of
every recipe he has used so he can go back and recreate any that appear
to be favorites among his friends and family, who are having fun with
Brewing appeals to my nerdy side, he laughed. Im
a real beer geek.
Murray is certainly not alone in his love of home brewing. The American
Homebrewers Association, headquartered in Boulder, Colo., has more than
21,000 home brewing members and 560 home brew suppliers, according to
President Gary Glass. The AHA held its annual conference in Bloomington,
Minn., in June, and had more than 1,300 home brewers attend.
While the hobby seems to appeal greatly to professionals, we get
people from all walks of life, he said in a telephone interview.
According to AHA reports in 2009 from home brew suppliers, revenue for
the hobby increased more than 16 percent. Prior to last year,
it was rising at a rapid click of about 20 percent for the past few
years, he said. Its a fun, yet inexpensive hobby that
appeals to beer lovers.
Nathan Blank of Corydon, Ind., owns a home beer and winemakers supply
store, Cellar on the Square, located at 110 N. Elm St. He became interested
in home brewing as a way to make craft beers for personal consumption
more affordable and a way to become more familiar with the products
I became fascinated with the process, he said.
As I tell customers, its like having a chemistry set for
adults. After the experiment is done, you had the results to someone
and say, Here, try this.
by Konnie McCollum
Blakely cooks up a new
home beer brew as his partner,
Donnie Clapham, watches.
Blank chairs Corydons Southern Indiana Uncorked
Wine and Microbrew Festival, held May 29 in Corydon. This year
marked the third anniversary of the festival, which has grown in popularity
each year, said Blank. Thirteen wineries and microbreweries showcased
their blends this year, while more than 1,550 people attended. That
is up considerable from the past two years. This is the only local
showcase that I know of for homebrewers and winemakers, he said.
We hope it continues to grow.
In Madison, Ind., retired postal worker Donnie Clapham and Express Jet-Continental
Airlines pilot Rick Blakely have gotten hooked on brewing their own
beer. The longtime friends decided to try brewing their first batch
about six months ago. We caught the bug, and it is just fun tasting
and sharing our products with our friends.
Blakely said he had long been interested in making beer but didnt
actually get started until this past year. It is fun to brew our
own beer, he said. Its an enjoyable hobby that yields
a delicious and well-used product. My friends and family speak highly
of the flavor and seem to really enjoyed the home-brewed aspect of it,
which adds character and a personal touch.
Clapham first became interested in home brewing when his older brother
tried it 20 years ago. It wasnt until recently, however, that
he decided to give it a try.
The partners say the most important part of home brewing is sanitation.
The process begins with making sure all the equipment is properly
sanitized. Otherwise, the product will be compromised.
Once they clean everything, they make a mash of malted grains and hops,
add their own adjuncts, or herbs, spices and flavoring, and then add
yeast to the wort, or mixture. After their beer sits for up to two weeks,
they add priming sugar then bottle the brew.
We brew our beer every two weeks, making five gallons at a time.
We bottle it with 22-ounce bottles and wait for the fun to begin,
Blakely and Clapham have experimented with a variety of recipes. They
buy their supplies from Listermanns in Cincinnati. Blakely said
they use the shops kits, which include all the ingredients.
They have, however, added cinnamon, juniper berries and coriander to
some of their porters, which are dark ales. Clapham said they are considering
a smoked porter and a vanilla bean expresso stout, which is a darker
ale than a porter. We will get more adventurous as we become more
experienced. He admitted some of his brews havent turned
out to be the best, and hes ended up dumping them out, including
a batch that somehow went sour.
Ive become something of a beer snob, he laughed. Now
that Ive tasted home brew, others dont taste as good.
He likes to visit pubs and microbreweries to taste other home and craft
It certainly isnt rocket science, said Blakely. Anyone
can do it, but like most anything else, experience helps and creates
a margin for creativity.
The partners are working on naming their beer, but for now, they simply
drink what they brew and live by their slogan Relax. Have a home
A novice beer maker who has just completed his third batch is Madison,
Ind.s Key West Shrimp House owner Scott Koerner. Im
already hooked on this home brewing, he said. He became interested
after visiting microbreweries and sampling their varieties.
Koerner follows a super simple procedure he obtained on
the Internet at www.MrBeer.com. He plans on experimenting with a variety
My next batch may be chocolate-covered strawberry ale, he
said. If I dont like it, I dont have to drink it.
Eventually, Koerner said he would like to be able to offer some Shrimpy
Beer, at his restaurant. He didnt elaborate on whether that
would come with sauce on the side.
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