Written by Henry Hunt
Like any cooking or baking process, brewing is pretty easy to follow from a set of instructions and a recipe. There are tons of online instructions, videos and podcast. But also like baking and cooking, brewing is best learned from watching, doing and being with someone who knows what they are doing.
I was able to attend the last brewing class at the old location of My Old Kentucky Homebrew. As owner Paul Young says, they have held these free classes every Wednesday evening since opening. It takes about 45 minutes and it is a great session if you want to get started or polish some brewing skills.
Seven hearty souls ventured out in the cold to attend the 7 pm session the day after Christmas. Paul does an excellent job and has a tight presentation, which follows his 17-step online instructions (Malt Extract Brewing) http://www.myoldkentuckyhomebrew.com/beer/. They also have recipes for all types of beer that will help you brew beer good enough to drink.
Special note to readers. While, the My Old Kentucky Homebrew website stresses the importance of drinking beer during most processes, and clearly outlines drinking beer as part of the preamble and STEP 5 of their step-by-step brewing instructions, I was not offered a tasty home brewed beer as part of the class.
This is bad beer brewing form. We can only hope this situation is corrected at the new location. As for my part, I promise never to show up empty handed at the store, even when class is not in session. And if this is against any federal, state or local laws, enforcement officers should stop reading and go about your business. Nothing to see here.
Back to brew class.
Paul provides a number of tips and demonstrates some really good habits and processes that are not listed in the online material. It is an extremely detailed and thorough class. He highlights the important parts of brewing and everything is focused on making a good drinkable beer. He also understands time, equipment and kitchen limitations.
A great deal of useful information is packed in to this 45-minute class (hour plus with questions). After brewing for over ten years, I took away a few tricks to streamline my brewing.
I am probably wasting time worrying about Louisville tap water. I am not worrying enough about cooling my wort quickly and easily pitching yeast. And I can probably reduce steps to get to my boil quicker.
Even when you learn from an experienced brewer, many times brewing is like raising racehorses. People get caught up in superstitions or add steps because that’s the way they learned how to do it. Or it worked for the big race. But they don’t remember why or how it adds to the final product. If you spend too much time on STEP 5 you may have a tendency to forget.
I encourage any new brewers to attend one of the Intro-To-Brewing classes at the new My Old Kentucky Homebrew location on lower Baxter Avenue. Paul Young and Rob O’Daniel expect to start Wednesday classes in early January with a bigger space. As a polite guest, you may want to take a nice adult beverage to the class. And bring enough to share.
Reminder: Don’t forget to order your hop rhizomes soon. We will talk about growing hops in March when it is time to plant.