|Brewing a popular hobby among Twin Cities residents|
|Written by Brandon James Smith, Daily Vidette Reporter|
|Friday, 29 January 2010 00:50|
As John Saller pours a Charkoota Rye Smoked Doppelbock Lager into a pint glass, a content smile runs across his face as he discusses the importance of micro-breweries. The beer that Saller pours is made by New Holland, a micro-brewery located in Holland, Michigan.
Like the creator of New Holland, Saller plans on owning his own brewery one day and has the experience and knowledge to do so.
He began brewing six years ago when a friend started a homebrew club in college. He says his first batch turned out pretty tasty, although it might not have been the beer he was hoping for.
“It’s really easy to make good beer at home, but it’s really hard to make the exact beer you set out to make,” Saller said.
Saller, who currently bartends at Destihl, also helped open Medici in Uptown Normal and is responsible for the dozens of micro-brews available at the restaurant. To him, brewing beer is a passion and a way of life.
“I’ve brewed probably 30 or 40 batches of beer and every single one of them has been different,” Saller said.
The craft beer industry is something that is extremely important to Saller, even though some critics say that the popularity of micro-breweries is just a fad. Saller scoffs at the notion by saying “if it’s a fad, then it’s a 20-year fad.”
Fred Morissette, the assistant brewer of Destihl, agrees whole-heartedly with Saller.
“The craft beer industry is really changing because people are going ‘wow, this beer has a lot of flavor, I like that.’ People are starting to want beer with flavor,” Morissette said.
“It’s a really exciting movement that has been very successful financially,” Saller added.
Morissette is so passionate about brewing that he used up his vacation days from his full-time job to brew beer at Destihl for the first year he worked there. He feels that locally brewed beer provides a much better flavor than big breweries like Anheuser-Busch and Miller.
“Places like Anheuser-Busch are adding rice to their beer because rice is a fermentable that ferments out fully but doesn’t have flavor. The same goes for Miller, except they use corn for the same purpose. At Destihl we don’t add rice or corn, we only use malted barley, wheat or rye,” Morissette said. “At the big breweries, the bottom line is reducing cost and making more money while at Destihl the quality is important and the brewery is all about the beer.
For those 21 and over, there are multiple reasons to learn how to brew. For one, it can be considerably cheaper than drinking $5 wheat ales all night at a downtown bar. Also, the style of the beer, such as lagers, stouts, ales and porters, is all in the hands of the brewer. More importantly, it’s an enjoyable hobby that is sure to bring visitors.
“You always have friends. You always have someone asking about your beer, even if it’s not a good beer,” Kurt Schnake, a home-brewer, said.
Schnake has brewed for 10 years and for a time even had his own beer available at Illinois Brewing Company in Bloomington. The beer, called “Kurt’s Kolsch,” was a big hit among the IBC patrons. He advises first-time brewers to keep it simple and just stick with the basic ingredients like water, hops, barley and yeast.
“All my beers are basic beers…basic pale ale…basic stout…basic kolsch,” Schnake said. “There’s nothing special in there, no special ingredient, it’s all the regular three or four ingredients.”
Saller agrees that beginners should keep it simple, but also adamantly contends that sanitation, temperature and yeast are the most important factors in brewing a tasteful cold one.
“The only reason that batches go bad is either because something is dirty or because it gets too hot or too cold… or because you have bad yeast,” Saller said. “The more I brew the more I realize it’s about the yeast…you have millions of little organisms there and you have to make them happy.”
Explaining the typical process of brewing beer would be longer than this article, but for those interested, Saller says the best way to learn is to start with a book.
“The very first book to get is [any book] by Charlie Papazian…he is great for beginners, his books are the ones that taught me how to brew. Also Ray Daniels, ‘Designing Great Beers,’ he’s a very good resource,” Saller said.
“And join your local home-brewers club,” he added.
So for all those soon-to-be brewers out there, remember to keep the ingredients simple, keep the equipment clean, watch the temperature and read.
For the beer lovers not ready for that type of commi™ent, check out what places like Destihl, Medici and IBC have to offer and a whole new world of beer will be waiting.