Hey there, Friends! Welcome to another theme week! Craft brewing and artisan beer is all the rage lately, so this week, my always-up-for-anything blogging crew will be featuring interesting recipes or fascinating tidbits that incorporate the yeasty-malty-hoppy beverage that is beer.
What can you look forward to?
- Jeanne/Inside NanaBread’s Head will tell us about her beer tasting experience in Canada, which for some could be considered a sort of Beer Vahalla. She also shares an un-freaking-believable looking Dark Chocolate Espresso Stout Cake with Caramel & Kahlua Whipped Cream.
- I’ll be introducing you to a friend of mine that brews his own beer. Look for that right after this schedule of events.
- Kat/TenaciouslyYours will explain the intricacies of Gasthof’s Oktoberfest.
- Madeline/Munching in the Mitten talks craft brews and features a Pumpkin Beer Bread.
- Anne/From My Sweet Heart features Pumpkin Ale Pretzel Caramels. Caramel with beer? This I’ve gotta see!
- Lauren/Climbing Grier Mountain makes a Pale Ale Shrimp Po’ Boy sandwich that is guaranteed to make you drool.
- Megan/Country Cleaver puts the comfort in Comfort Food with Schnitzel and Dumplings
- Megan’s Bestie-in-Real-Life, Beka/Kvetchin’ Kitchen will be making her Theme Week Debut with a review of Outlander Brewery.
- Allison/Decadent Philistines Save the World prepares a three course meal with various beers playing prominent roles. Overachiever.
- Mads/La Petite Pancake totally scores with Beer Battered Shrimp Tacos.
- Katie/The Hill Country Cook will be dishing on the Double Horn Brewery in Marble Falls, Texas.
- I’m back with my Black & Tan brownies–they’ll change your life, I can promise you that!
- Carrie/Bakeaholic Mama incorporates her favorite beer/cider into her Woodchuck Sweet Potato Bisque.
My friend John tweeted, “Beer. #notreallyasurprise”
Beer for dessert? Is he out of his mind? Well, perhaps, however John has been brewing his own beer for over a decade now, so I guess it comes as no surprise that he’d rather enjoy a hand crafted beer rather than a slice of pie for dessert.
Although I’m not sure how anything can be considered dessert if flour and butter are not somehow involved.
However, I am always intrigued to discover what drives people to be passionate about their hobbies, so I thought it would be fun to chat for Five Minutes with a Home Brewer.
Where do you think your love of beer comes from?
Well, it’s been said that I displayed an affinity for beer from an early age. Family folklore has it that I once interrupted a church service as a child. I was about 4 years old, and when the priest was lifting up the chalice in the middle of mass, I spouted out in rather loud voice, “Father Dacy drink a beer like Dad, Mom?”
Oh, no! Your poor parents!
Yeah. My Dad stopped drinking beer out of glasses after that, and pretty much stiuck to the straight-from-the-can approach from then on. I didn’t really get into drinking beer until I was probably about 22 or so. I wasn’t a big fan of Bud Light, Miller Lite, etc. but I kept trying new beers as I would come across them and soon started finding a collection of beers I did enjoy.
So what drove you to start brewing your own beer?
I had heard of homebrewing in passing, usually in disdainful “that-tasted-like-mud” type of comments. In college, I worked as a marketing intern for someone who was a homebrewer. Given that I’d developed a fondness for good beer by then, I was intrigued. I remember thinking that home brewing was a hobby that I’d like to try when I got settled after graduation. Well, with graduation came an out-of-state move, marrying the love of my life, and eventually a move back to Michigan. A chance encounter with a “Mr. Beer” homebrewing kit was my initial foray into brewing–it was inexpensive, and it seemed easy enough for a rookie like me.
How-to kits are a great way to get you started in a hobby, but in my experience, kits are good for the basics, but end results can still be a bit dicey. How did you fare with your initial brewing attempt?
My first attempt at making beer ended…well, not nearly as bad as some of the reviews I’d come to read about the Mr. Beer kit. Still, I didn’t think it was all that good, so I set out to research more about the brewing process.
How did you really learn how to brew craft beer?
I found a few internet discussion boards where I learned a few basics. I discovered a homebrewing shop near my house that sold supplies, so I dumped about $100 into upgrading to a 5 gallon beginner kit and tried again. My second attempt turned out pretty well, and from there I was off and running. I read books, went to some conventions, joined a brewing club, and started making beer after beer. About a year into home brewing, my wife and I decided to remodel our kitchen. Until that point, I had been brewing 5 gallons of beer at a time, and mostly on the stove top. I was informed in no uncertain terms that I would not be brewing beer on our nice new stove, nor risking the new counter tops.
Ha! Don’t mess with your wife’s new kitchen!
Yeah, well I went out and spent almost as much on my all-grain, 10 gallon brewing system as we had spent on the nice counters that I not allowed to ruin.
Oooo! I guess you showed her.
It took me a couple of batches to get a handle on my new set up, but once I did, things really started to take off. These days I make beer much like you’d see it made at a brewery, just on a smaller scale.
So what is your end goal with home brewing? Are you content to keep it small at home, or do you have bigger aspirations for your craft?
Well, I’ve really fought off the idea for a brewery for a while. Over the years I’ve given my home brewed beers to various people to sample, and I’ve gotten pretty solid reviews. Their opinions are usually followed with asking about when I might open my own brewery. I’ve always been a little hesitant to really go there because I’ve got a decent job, and I really don’t want beer to become work. But as craft beer has gotten bigger, I started to think more seriously about tossing my hat into the ring, so to speak.
Honestly, I don’t want to come across as arrogant, but I want to try to explain my thought process…here are a couple examples: I paid $6 for a pint-of-something at a restaurant that would get thrown out at my house for being a “bad batch.” Just to be fair, I talked to the server and bartender, whom I know, and they said the beer was a good seller. They also assured me that the tap lines had been recently cleaned. So I ordered it again to give it another shot, just to make sure it wasn’t from something sitting around in unclean beer lines. Well, it was still bad, so I figured it was just me. In some other places, I’d try their beer samplers and find myself judging them against my own beers. Finally one night it just clicked–I want to brew beer for a living.
Wow. That’s a big undertaking! Artisan beer is very popular right now, but I would think that also makes it a pretty competitive market. Why do you think you can succeed in that kind of environment?
Well, that’s something I have a hard time putting into a concise statement. Realistically, I can’t ignore my business background and try to make a living at something if I don’t think I can make it profitable. I guess it’s part I-like-mine-better-than-theirs, combined with a healthy dose of really wanting to do what I love for a living–which is to brew beer. I’m not such a fan of the cleanup after brewing or fermenting, but I really enjoy nearly every other aspect of the process: the research, the trial and error, the tasting. But I think my biggest motivation is getting people to try new beers, and then seeing their expressions when they realize they like something that they didn’t expect to enjoy, or even knew was out there. What I’m aiming to do is to bring good beer to market at reasonable prices. I’m not looking to be the guy charging $7 a pint, but trust me, I’d love it if people were willing to pay that much!
So where does that leave Dearborn Brewing?
Well, we’re still in the information gathering/business planning process. My wife is incredibly supportive of our new venture. I wouldn’t be doing any of this without her. Right now, we’re looking for the right space for our business. While the main function of the building will be a brewhouse, I think a taproom/tasting room would do well in the area that we hope to be in. I know that I can brew good beer, so most of what is delaying us from opening is navigating the laws associated with brewing and distribution in our state. But we’re getting there! Hopefully soon.
Way to turn your passion into a business! Very cool. How can we keep tabs on your progress?
Well, I’ve set up a Dearborn Brewing page on facebook, and also on Twitter. I’ll be funneling more information through those channels at some point, but I haven’t really publicized it yet. It would be cool to have more than 2 Likes on the facebook page, though.
Thanks, John. Good luck with the whole process!