Some people store beer in their garage. John George makes beer in his. George, bar manager at Zombie Burger and long-time beer lover, started brewing his own beer at home about four years ago.
“You can only learn so much about beer before someone tells you, ‘Hey, you can make that at home,’ ” he says.
George started off small, brewing in a pot on his kitchen stove, but he’s moved on to bigger batches, which he brews in his garage on his self-constructed “beer sculpture.” According to George, home brewers call the brewing apparatus beer sculptures because they are usually homemade, and they can take all different forms. His sculpture allows him to do all-grain brewing with whole ingredients, which often turns out better batches than extract brewing.
In the four years that George has been brewing, he has still been working out the kinks in his recipes and perfecting his beer. He has a small number of recipes, the best of which are his brown ale and wheat beer.
“As far as home brewers go, I’m just starting off,” he says. “Once in a while I get a little more adventurous.”
When George starts the brewing process, he takes grain (usually barley) and soaks it in tepid water to loosen the grains and prepare them for the brewing process. After soaking the grains, he removes them from the water in a process called “mashing.”
He boils the liquid (or mash) while adding hops, then cools the concoction and adds yeast to begin the fermentation process. Fermentation can take anywhere from five days to three weeks, according to George, but after it is done fermenting, the beer can be drunk immediately, or put in bottles or kegs.
“At that point, you’ve made beer,” he says.
Although George enjoys the brewing process, and obviously the end results, he says that the worst part is doing the dishes.
“Any home brewer has a readily accessible tasting panel,” he says. “It’s harder to find voluntary dish washers.”
Although George says he is still an amateur home brewer, he admits that he has become a “professional beer geek.” He is a certified level one Cicero (basically a sommelier for beer). He calls the program a “certification program for beer nerds.”