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Beer Love for the DIY Set

In honor of the Beer Issue, seasoned home brewers dish tips.

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Home brewing has always been a thing, happening long before commercial production, craft brewing and all the other hoopla. With as many beer choices as we have in Central Oregon, you might think a beer lover wouldn't need to brew at homeā€”but they do, for multiple reasons.

Home brewing can be a hobby, but it can also turn into a business. Many breweries in town, including Bridge 99 Brewing and Oblivion Brewing Company, were started by home brewers, so you never know where that interest will lead you.

Here's what a few home brewers had to say about their favorite hobby.

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Mike Dugan, brewing since 2011

How he got into it:
I was inspired by my son who was brewing beer in college. Since I started I've tried to brew once a month. I just completed my 78th brew.

What he wishes someone would have told him when he first started: You learn a little every time you brew. If someone would have told me 25 years ago how easy it was I would have done it then. If you can boil water, you can brew beer.

Why he keeps brewing: It's fun, I like to drink it, and I'm retired so I have the time. I can get it from start to the carboy and cleaned up in just under four hours. I get a kick when people drink it and tell me how good it is.

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Tim Koester, brewing since 2002

How he got into it: A neighbor was brewing, and I hung out and watched him and was interested. We brewed together for a while and then I bought my own equipment.

Tips for new brewers: Many new brewers get discouraged because they get a bad batch, but it's easy to make good beer as long as you follow good sanitation processes.

Why he keeps brewing: It's a very creative process, I can design my own recipes. I get to share my results with friends and family and enjoy my effort. There are so many fun aspects to the hobby.

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Adam Mendel, brewing since 2012

How he got into it: I love beer so when my friend Dave mentioned that he also wanted to give home brewing a shot we took a trip to The Brew Shop and split a beginner's kit. 

Tips for new brewers: Less is more. Start with simple recipes and perfect them. Learn what your ingredients taste and smell like. You can add a million ingredients, but it doesn't necessarily mean a superior beer. One of the best beers I've ever brewed was a simple single-malt, single-hop IPA, but I nailed all of the steps and it was a real champ.

Why he keeps brewing: Fun. I love the technical aspects, the chemistry and the rhythm of the brew session.  Of course, I also like having a good excuse to have an afternoon beer while I watch the boil kettle roll.

What it takes to be a home brewer: To find out how to become a home brewer I asked Jeff Hawes, co-owner of The Brew Shop in Bend. "For under $250 you can get started," he said. "We have the equipment and 10 different home brewing kits to make 5 gallons of beer." Five gallons of beer is equivalent to nine six packs. Hawes also has advice for a first-time brewer. Like Koester, he said, "sanitization is the number one thing. If you make it through that you get a decent beer."

New brewers can find support and camaraderie at the Central Oregon Homebrewers Organization.

They meet twice a month, on the third Wednesday, for a regular meeting, and the first weekend for a group brew at a member's home. Koester, a COHO member, said the group brew is a "hands-on opportunity to learn new techniques, and learn from other members. You watch a batch of beer being made and everyone stands around and asks questions." Koester said the group has grown a lot in the last eight years and currently has around 100 members. Anyone is welcome to attend a meeting. If you like it, you can join. Membership is $30 a year.

Central Oregon Homebrewers Organization

cohomebrewers.org


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