Homebrewing beer has been one of the more educational and fulfilling food-related experiences I’ve ever had. Making beer is relatively simple, and the steps involved in the beer-making process can deepen your understanding and appreciation of not only beer but also distilled products, like Scotch and bourbon, that all basically start with beer.

The Oak Park Homebrewers (OPHB) are dedicated to building a community of local homebrewers and promoting homebrewing as a hobby. OPHB will be hosting a “Learn to Homebrew Day” event at Exit Strategy (7700 Madison, Forest Park) on November 3.

Douglas Hill, OPHB Vice President, took the time to tell us about beer generally and OPHB specifically.

What do you look for in a beer; what characteristics make you sit back and say, “Now, that is a good beer!”

The first thing is that the good beer should have no “off” flavors.  “Off” flavors mainly come from fermentation problems but can also be caused by improper storage and age. The second thing we consider is the style of beer we are drinking.  We compare the qualities of the beer (color, aroma, flavor) to the style guidelines. When I say “Now, that is a good beer!”, the beer will have a clean fermentation profile, meet the style profile, have proper carbonation, and will be served in proper and clean glassware.  I would say about half the beers I sample get the stamp of “Now, that is a good beer”.  

Tell us about the Oak Park beer scene.  What places are you especially excited about?

The Oak Park beer scene has really changed in the last few years.  Kinslahger and Oak Park Brewing anchor the locally sourced brew and both have tap rooms.   We have Wild Onion Brewing which does not brew on premise; they brew at their original location in Barrington.  Like Oak Park Brewing, Wild Onion also has a restaurant and full liquor bar. Beer Shop has really changed the dynamic of having access to local craft beer and beer from around the country.  They focus mostly on regional/Chicago beer. 

What is OPHB all about?

We are a diverse group of folks from Oak Park and the surrounding area that have a common hobby.  We get together to relax, share our homebrews, shoot the breeze, and enjoy the company.  Brewing is a very social activity.  Brewers like to share their beer, get feedback, and learn from more experienced brewers.  The club enjoys participating in events that raise money for local charities as well.  The club is constantly evolving and is looking for new members to participate.  We have a lot of members from outside of Oak Park, including from Berwyn, Forest Park, Indiana and even Mexico.  We encourage folks to stop by one of our monthly meetings to see what it is all about.  We meet the fourth Tuesday of each month at Kinslagher.

To find out more about the Homebrew Day events at Exit Strategy, go to https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/aha-events/learn-to-homebrew-day/aha-lthd-event/?site_id=5062

To find out more about OPHB, you can visit the Oak Park Homebrewers Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/oakparkhomebrewers/ and their website: www.ophb.org.

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David Hammond

David Hammond, a corporate communications consultant and food journalist living in Oak Park, Illinois, is a founder and moderator of LTHForum.com, the 8,500 member Chicago-based culinary chat site. David...