While many of us enjoy a great craft beer at a local brewery, an industrious few are not content with drinking someone else’s beer, and instead brew their own at home. Like the rise of craft breweries in our area, home brewing is also on the rise, with groups in both Mobile and Baldwin counties promoting the (tasty) hobby.
I recently attended the monthly get-together of the Knights of the Hop Table, a home brewing club on the Eastern Shore. Organizer Jeff Dunnam said the club has about 30 followers on Facebook and about eight core members. We met at the home of one of the members, although sometimes they will meet a local brewery. Everyone brought beers with them, either craft brews they found and wanted to share with the group or beers of their own creation. Everyone went around, described their beer and poured tastes for the group.
I got to try a number of great beers — especially the home brews — and engaged in excellent conversation about beer, brewing, ingredients, equipment and festivals. Some of the guys had been brewing for years, while others were relatively new to the craft. Discussion ranged from different ingredients that they have tried (habaneros, smoked pumpkin, even asparagus!) and different strains of hops (one member was growing his own) to used equipment for sale and upcoming events.
I asked how much they had invested in their beer-making, and each said around $1,000 in equipment and that it cost between $40 and $65 for the ingredients that it takes to brew a 10-gallon batch. There are a couple of places in our area to get equipment and ingredients, but the Knights recommended The Wine Smith in Mobile, Gary’s Home Brew Supply in Pensacola or online at morebeer.com. The American Homebrewers Association (homebrewersassociation.org) is also a great resource for ingredients, supplies, recipes and all other types of information on how to get into home brewing.
Both the Knights of the Hop Table and its Mobile County counterpart, Random Acts of Brewing, will be participating in the Emerald Coast Beer Festival on Friday, Sept. 6, from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. at Rosie O’Grady’s Good Time Emporium in Pensacola. Tickets are $30 online (emeraldcoastbeerfest.com). The festival will feature beers from 37 breweries and 14 home brew clubs. The Knights of the Hop Table will have eight beers available to sample at the festival: Jefe Hefe Hefeweizen, Smoked Habanero Pale Ale, Hop Heavy Session IPA, Das Dunkel, Ruthless Rye IPA, a cream ale, Ain’t So Du Pont Saison and Citra Pale Ale.
Closer to home, the 22nd Annual Dauphin Street BeerFest will be held on Saturday, Aug. 24, with more than 70 beers available to sample at 24 LoDa venues, for a $30 ticket. If you can’t wait until the 24th to get your local beer fix, this Thursday, Aug. 15, the Downtown Mobile Alliance will host its first ever Happy Hour Hard Hat Brewery Tour of all five Mobile breweries — Braided River, Haint Blue, Iron Hand, Old Majestic and Serda — from 4 – 6 p.m.
But wait — I thought we only had three breweries in Mobile? That’s where the “hard hat” part of the tour comes in. While Braided River and Old Majestic are not yet up and operational, the two St. Louis Street breweries are getting close to opening, and tour-goers will get a sneak peek at what they are planning while getting a complete walk-through of the facilities, according to Braided River owner David Nelson. Braided River will also host an open house during BeerFest.
Tickets for the brewery tour are $35 ($30 for Downtown Alliance members), which includes bus transportation between the breweries, a souvenir tasting glass, beer samples at Haint Blue, Iron Hand and Sera and discussions with the master brewers about their (beer) philosophies and processes. For more information, contact Carol Hunter at chunter@Downtownmobile.org or purchase tickets at downtownbrewerytour.eventbrite.com.
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