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Riverside Delta Homebrew

May 4, 2010

Those that know me personally, or have followed my comments on Facebook and beer blogs know that I love to brew my own beer.  It’s a passion that can at times consume me.  Brewing has been a hobby that has progressed steadily over the last six or seven years.  When I started out, we were living in Austin and would 5 gallon extract batches with a good friend.  It was a family affair.  His family would come over, we’d have dinner in conjunction with brewing.  Once or twice, our associate pastor even came over to participate in the festivities.  It was a great time for all involved, and the beer was always quite tasty.  Beers made included a Fat Tire clone, a Salvator clone, Chimay Bleu Clone, dunkelweizen, and I believe a chocolate stout.

Hard times eventually came where I lost my job.  I ended up relocating my family to the Seattle area after landing a job.  Life had turned upside down.  We didn’t really know anyone, and that made my first brew in the NW a solo venture.  It was a strong brown ale.  It wasn’t bad.  I recall sitting in the kitchen of our apartment bottling the beer with my son, who was about two at the time.  His role was to hand me the sanitized bottle caps as I needed them.

However, something was missing.  I really revel in community.  Fortunately, my wife was busy making friends with like-minded women, one of which was married to another home-brewer.  Thus, the beginning of new friendship for me as well.  It also marked the beginning of a brewing club, so-to-speak.  Nothing formal, but more of a loose association of friends from our church with a passion for beer.  Early on, there were two regulars brewing.  We are now up to four regulars.  In this little group, there are several other guys that brew with us on occasion.  Communal brewing… 4+ batches going each time we brew.

These guys that I’ve been brewing with have really helped me evolve as a brewer, mostly out of enthusiasm for what’s next.  A couple years back, we took the plunge into all-grain brewing.  We all took the step from bottling to kegging.  More recently, we’ve increased from 5 gallons to 10 gallons.  Without everyone’s enthusiasm feeding each others enthusiasm, I’m not sure where my brewing would be if I were still brewing on my own.  I recall being hesitant about all-grain, yet the camaraderie of taking that step together helped me off the fence.

Fast forward to this past weekend, another group brew session took place.  Six guys… six batches… 50 gallons.  One Imperial IPA, two IPA’s (one of which was mine), one Amber Ale, and a clone of Deschutes Red Chair NWPA, which is arguably an IPA.  Great times were had by all, including the final assembly of one brew kettle, a near loss of one’s yeast, the apparent death of another’s yeast, and a combination of the second/leftover runnings from four mashes (bittered with whole finishing hops scavenged from other kettles).

Not only is brewing a great and fun hobby, the end result is something usually delicious, something you can look back on with pride, knowing that you made it.  If you are sitting on the fence about brewing, I whole-heartedly encourange you to take the plunge.  Don’t be intimidated by more experienced brewers.  We home brewers, like professional brewers, are a community that will encourage you and provide advice and constructive criticism when asked.  In the end, it’s about the beer and we want you to enjoy it too.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. May 5, 2010 6:57 am

    I too revel in community. Unfortunately, I don’t know any local homebrewers, and have only brewed once with friends, who really just watched. Still, it was fun.

    If you do swing through these parts, it really would be cool for you to swing by and do a collaborative brew.

  2. May 5, 2010 12:28 pm

    That’s a great story and I enjoyed reading it. While I haven’t more than dabbled in home brewing, I do know that in my immediate area there are a lot of people around who would without question offer advice and assistance. It really is a good group of people.

  3. Don permalink
    May 6, 2010 12:55 pm

    Sounds like a good way to get involved in a community. You better watch out Tex, almost all IPAs. You’ll be a North Westerner before you know it. Pretty soon you will be complaining on sunny days and saying things like “Dude, I am so totally stoked about those rad snurls you did at the skate park…”

  4. May 6, 2010 1:18 pm

    @ Nate: You know, sometimes it just takes an invitation to a friend who has shown some interest. I’m all about collaboration. 🙂

    @ Scott: Speaking as a home brewer, brewing novices, rookies, or n00bs (whatever you want to call ’em) are always another potential friend waiting to happen.

    @ Don: Well, my tastes have been influenced quite a bit by these northwestern hopheads. Notice also that my avatar is a willamette hop. However, I’ve been here 5 years and sodas, no matter the flavor, are all cokes. I can’t bring myself to call it pop. And skate parks are a distant dream from my days of owning a Veriflex skateboard back in the late 80’s. Dude!

    • Don permalink
      May 7, 2010 9:35 am

      I had one of those too, but i thrashed the hell out of it and broke about 10 trucks. Finally gave it up when I got my license.

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