Making Beer at Home

If you like to drink it, why not make your own

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By David Hammond

 If you like beer, you should try brewing it. It’s harder to make beer than wine but not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be.

Fortunately, I live across the street from good friend Roger, who seems to like beer gear almost as he likes amplifiers and guitars (he also has an impressive gallery of musical equipment).  Roger has the big pots, the piping, an inverted fermenter, and all kinds of other stuff we need to brew. More importantly,  he’s gaining the expertise required to really understand the chemistry behind this ancient beverage (it’s millennia old; a few years ago, I did a piece on WBEZ about brewing practices in ancient Sumeria, where beer seems to have been born.)  

For the uninitiated, here’s beer-making in its simplest form:

 1. Boil grains (add malt and hops, if that’s what you’re into)

2. Add yeast and let sit for a week or two

3. Add sugar, bottle the stuff and let sit for another week or two

4. Drink

5. Repeat

I’m still pretty much of a novice beer meister, so I buy beer making kits from a place called Midwest Homebrewing and Winemaking Supplies. These kits contain all the necessary grains, malt mixtures and yeast and run around $35 bucks, The kits make about 5 gallons of beer. Roger and me usually make two kits per session and then share the two brews.

In Oak Park, there are several places, like the Kinderhook Tap (800 S. Oak Park Ave.) and Poor Phil’s (139 S. Marion St.), where you can get a good artisanal beer. But there’s no beer as satisfying as the one you make yourself.

Have you ever made your own beer. Please, tell us about it.

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