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The brewery in my basement

Posted by Posted by Annalise Klingbeil on Monday, June 27, 2011, June 29th, 2011 | 1 Comment

In September I moved into a house with two roommates and a lot of extra space. The carboys, empty bottles, wine rack, corks, and the "art of wine and beer making" certificate of attendance moved in soon after. My roommate Scott always wanted to make his own beer, and our house and its big basement provided the perfect opportunity. Scott loves beer and he loves saving money, so homebrew made sense. I was in complete support of Scott's new hobby. Who doesn't love cheap beer?

My previous experience with homebrew involved a friend's very sketchy moonshine and my frugal grandfather's basement brew. Scott originally started making beer to save money but his intentions shifted after attending a three hour wine and beer making course at the Home Vintner (that resulted in the aforementioned official certificate of attendance that remains on our fridge). At the course he drank a homemade beer, which he says was one of the best beers he's ever had, and decided he could save money and still make high quality good tasting beer.

After scouring Kijiji for supplies, Scott got started on his first batch, a pilsner that debuted at our Halloween party. Everyone, including me, were absolutely shocked by how good the beer was. It tasted better than what most people had brought to the party and by the end of the night all the homebrew was gone and our fridge was stocked with store-bought beer left over from guests who had instead enjoyed the homebrew. It's now nine months later and our basement has turned into a brewery, our garage has turned into a bottle storage arena and Scott has added wine to his repertoire. Our basement currently contains three carboys of beer, four carboys of wine, five empty carboys, 23 bottles of finished wine and boxes full of bottles of finished beer. We joke that Scott should give tours.

Homebrewing allows for creativity and experimentation — Scott buys beer making kits and adds ingredients like lime juice or oats. Scott has made raspberry and blueberry beer, Indian pale ale and stout. There is a Mexican cerveza in the works, as well as red and white wine. I'm not just saying this because he's my roommate and I want him to continue making cheap beer, but his homebrew is actually delicious. I've shared his beer and wine with friends and family who are all shocked that it's homemade.

Scott estimates he devotes five hours a week to his hobby and says making your own good beer and wine is easier than people think. His tips for brewers-to-be are simple: read and follow the instructions on beer and wine making kits, don't buy the cheapest kits available and put in the effort to do it right.

The beer making process itself takes at minimum about five weeks total and involves three steps: fermentation, sitting in a carboy and sitting in bottles. The wine making process is similar, with the added step of removing the CO2 while in the carboy.

Scott originally intended to save money by making beer, and he has. Each batch of beer produces 23 litres, or about 66 standard sized bottles, and each batch costs about $40 to $45 dollars, meaning Scott pays less than 70 cents per beer. Brewers-to-be will also have to purchase supplies. Scott bought most of his for ridiculously low prices on Kijiji. An already-prepared beer starter kit that contains all of the needed supplies can be found at local beer making shops for under $100. If you're intrigued by homebrewing but not quite ready to make the commitment, I suggest you find a roommate like Scott. I've really gotten the best of Scott's micro brewery arrangement as he does the work and my friends and I enjoy delicious and free beer, from the brewery in my basement. Posted by Annalise Klingbeil from Open File Community Powered News Calgary.

Thinking about brewing your own beer? Making quality brew is easier than you think. Photo by Annalise Klingbeil/OpenFile

Folllow Annalise Klingbeil on Twitter at @a_klingbeil

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Terésa Cerveza wrote on Sep 30, 2011 9:41 PM:
An empty carboy is nobody's playground. And you, Scott, have five of them. GET BUSY! Great article, Annalise, nice to know there are people out there who appreciate the "real beer revolution" Cheers! Terésa Cerveza

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