Association hops at chance to brew its own beer

A new student group is dedicated to learning how to brew beer at home.

by Jamie VanGeest

Things are brewing in a University student’s kitchen.

The Campus Homebrewing Association, a new student group, held their first “brewhaha” Saturday as they made their first batch of beer.

While some members are brewing virgins, for others, it’s a family tradition.

Josh Beiningen, a senior in environmental and natural resources policy and law, is the club’s president. Beiningen’s great-grandfather used to brew beer at his family farm.

Much of the equipment Beiningen uses comes from his grandfather.

The club discussed beer making while playing Playstation 2, then went over to Northern Brewer Homebrew Supply in St. Paul to get materials. Members were to learn brewing essentials at Beiningen’s house so they could start making their own batches at home.

Supplies the group picked up in St. Paul include fermenting buckets, fermentation locks, siphon tubing and kits containing all the supplies needed to make members’ favorite kinds of beer.

At the store, customers can purchase a kit with all the ingredients to make different types of beer.

Patrick Quigley, a geology junior, decided to buy a kit for an extra-pale ale.

Rob Fisk, a senior in environmental and natural resources policy and law, was the only member who chose to make wine instead of beer.

Fisk purchased a kit for Chilean malbec, because hearty red wines such as that are easier for first-time brewers.

After each member picked out supplies, they loaded everything into the back of a

1987 brown Subaru station wagon and headed back to Beiningen’s to start making some beer.

Everyone drew straws to see whose beer was going to be brewed Saturday night. The winner was John Stelzner, a senior in natural resources.

This was Stelzner’s first time brewing and he chose to prepare a phat tyre variety.

“I wanted to brew this beer because it isn’t available in Minnesota,” Stelzner said.

The first step was to heat a gallon of water and steep the grains. A bag of crushed grain in a muslin bag simmered for 15 minutes.

After that, the malt extract was added, which is a sticky substance that the yeast will feed on while the beer is fermenting, Beiningen said.

Hops, herbs that determine the bitterness and aroma of the beer, were added.

Beiningen said he tried growing his own hops in his yard, but rabbits ate it.

After some more mixing and cooking, the beer was put into a fermenting bucket and then siphoned into a glass jar. There it will ferment for several weeks until it’s ready to drink.

In a few weeks, the club will get together and try one another’s brews.

Each batch is about 5 gallons of beer, which yields about 54 bottles. Fisk’s batch of wine will yield about 25 bottles.

Fisk said the group welcomes new members.

“It’s easy to make beer and it’s a great way to save money,” Fisk said.

Beiningen and the other members of the club said the club isn’t for people who just want to get drunk, but for those who appreciate different types of beer, and in some cases wine.

Robert Kunicki, a conservation biology senior, said he wants to become a beer connoisseur.

The club also has plans to visit some local breweries to watch beer brewing on a larger scale.