Slow Foods Grinnell brings out the brewer in all of us

On Saturday, Nov. 14, Slow Foods Grinnell hosted a homebrewing demonstration at Heritage Farms. In celebration of National Teach a Friend to Homebrew Day, which is held annually on the first Saturday in November, Brooks Davis instructed an eclectic mix of students, local families, and fellow farmers on the nuances of concocting a tasty barley pop.
In the fashion of a home cooking show, Davis had assembled a condensed homebrewing production line in the farmhouse which moved chronologically, beginning with an empty five gallon bucket and concluding with the final product—a replication of the delicious Dead Man’s Ale, brewed by Rogue Brewery in Portland, Oregon.

With the eager group of beer novices surrounding him, Davis began his demonstration by fielding the most immediate question—’although it’s called homebrewing, is it really possible or practical to homebrew at home?’ The unmitigated answer is ‘yes.‘

Although it may be intimidating, Andrew Dunham, the owner and operator of Heritage Farms, sees many benefits to practice of making your own brew.

“[Homebrewing is] easy, fun and the end result is delicious,” said Dunham. “I think most people would really enjoy if they found the time to get into it.”

Even though Davis was working with equipment one likely will not find in his or her own kitchen, all that is really essential for the successful concocting of a beer with a five percent alcoholic content is an electric stove and two and half gallon bucket. To put that five percent number into some perspective, Busch lite has about a 4.2 percent alcohol content while Hawkeye Vodka can claim 40 percent, making your beer somewhere in that comfortable gap.

If you’re feeling particularly ambitious in your beer-making, causing you to seek tools other than make shift home appliances in constructing your unique brew, Davis suggests picking up a starter kit from the accommodating Urbandale, IA store—Beer Crazy.

A homebrewing kit costs about $75. For that price you get fermentors, spigots, a hydrometer, airlock and stopper, bottle filler, racking cane, tubing, bottle brush, bottle caps and a bottle capper—more or less everything you need besides the actual ingredients and a group of friends.

If you need some guidance in utilizing your new equipment you can also pick up the highly recommended “How to Brew” by John Palmer or “The Complete Joy of Homebrewing” by Charles Papazian. These books provide a specific and helpful outline for the aspiring homebrewer, as well as a fine introduction to the key ingredients, which can also be bought at Beer Crazy.