I Love You Beer, Worts and All

Last Drop
By Dave Carpenter
Reprinted with permission from Zymurgy Magazine.

A year after I started all-grain brewing, as I was diagnosing a string of curiously hazy homebrews, I found that my thermometer had developed a bit of a negative bias. Advantageous, perhaps, for a future in politics, but of little use to the serious brewer. I discovered modest, yet tolerable, inaccuracy at water’s boiling and freezing points, and splendid, glorious unreliability in the range of temperatures critical to mashing. Bother. An optimistic scale I might indulge (more hops!), but a dishonest thermometer I would not tolerate. So I went out and purchased an obscenely accurate and marvelously expensive model.

My beer cleared up straight away. But I began thinking: friends, family, and I had enjoyed with absolute sincerity every one of my murky, mis-mashed beers. Had our naïve appreciation been wrong? Did a new thermometer and bright beer suddenly invalidate our earlier experiences?
Of course not. Taking pleasure in a handcrafted, artisan product is the essence of our obsession, and infectious enthusiasm for our own little objets d’art can compensate for many a technical flaw. We enjoy myriad approaches to our hobby but share a common desire to create and savor. Sure, we’ll endlessly debate how to get there, but I think we’re all ultimately in it to quench a primal thirst for something satisfying, distinctive, and uniquely ours.

When I brewed my very first Belgian dubbel, I broke every rule of fermentation (I didn’t know there were rules) and turned out something so lavishly fruity that I promptly christened it Carmen Miranda’s Hat. But, you know, my girlfriend, my buddies, and I downed every last bit of it. It was neither what I’d set out to brew, nor a remotely faithful representation of the style, but it was beer, and something to be proud of. I delighted in those initial batches of stovetop extract beer every bit as much as I do the triple-decocted, first-wort-hopped exercises in madness that I create today with the help of assorted Rube Goldberg contraptions.

I don’t suggest that we stop improving how we brew, but rather that we always honor why we brew. And there are as many reasons as there are brewers. For some, it’s a way to relax on the weekend, a few hours spent not worrying and savoring several of one’s past efforts. For others, it’s an endless pursuit to nail the perfect example of a BJCP description. It’s even rumored that some save money by crafting their own beer, though I firmly believe Sasquatch will be positively identified well before these individuals. But we all brew to create something unique, and regardless of our particular approaches, we share a most satisfying goal.

So enjoy the journey. When next you lie awake, obsessing over yeast or hot side aeration, try visualizing and counting airlock bubbles. You’re a homebrewer, and a little uncertainty is OK.

Unless it’s a Bavarian lager. The Reinheitsgebot allows a handful of ingredients, and imprecision isn’t one of them.

Dave Carpenter is a writer and recovering engineer from Fort Collins, Colo. In addition to homebrewing, he enjoys hiking, skiing, traveling, and other gerunds. Follow him online at www.quaffablequips.com.

Edwardsville Fall Beer Festival

Club Members, come out and join us along with Global Brew at the Edwardsville Fall Beer Festival.

On November 10, from 11am to 6pm, Global Brew Tap House & Lounge will host a Fall Beer Festival in the Edwardsville City Park. There is no cover or ticket charge – proceeds from the event will be used to support the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity – Glen Carbon/Edwardsville.

Beer trailers featuring seasonal and special release brews including:

  • Schlafly (featuring TIPA)
  • Boulevard (featuring Smoke Stack Series)
  • 4 Hands
  • Urban Chestnut (featuring Triticum)
  • Goose Island

  • Food tents from Herzog’s Kitchen, Wang Gang, Papa Murphy’s,The Cup and Cleveland-Heath
  • Live music
  • Brewing demonstrations and information from the East Side Brewers

Edwardsville Fall Beer Festival

Ben’s Magical Brew Day at 2nd Shift

Ben's Brew Day @ 2nd Shift

On December 10th, 2011, long-time member Ben Cowan went to New Haven, Missouri, the home of 2nd Shift Brewery. Ben had paid to participate in a weekend brewing experience involving meals, a whole day of brewing experience, lodging, beer tasting, and memories for sure.

2nd Shift is a newer brewery that opened up in the past few years. They currently offer drafts and bottles of IPAs, Belgians, and Stouts. Favorites include Hibiscus Wit, Art of Neurosis, Cat Spit Stout, Unicorn Killer Saison, and LSD (Liquid Spiritual Delight).

Ben drove about an hour and a half to get to New Haven, and the total price for the whole weekend was $250. Ben had a full day of brewing Hibiscus Wit and that was followed by a beer tasting. Second shift offers a manor house to stay in and breakfast was included.

One of the many hints that Ben learned from this experience was about mash pH. A mash pH of under 5.0 will improve beer quality. I am sure that Ben will use this and other lessons learned to improve his brewing techniques. Please feel free to ask Ben of his experience when you see him next!

Ben's Brew Day @ 2nd Shift

Ben's Brew Day @ 2nd Shift

Brewery History

Interested in local brewing history?
Check out the new Brewery History section. Kevin Kious, local beer memorabia collector and author, gave us permission to republish a few articles that he co-wrote along with Donald Roussin. These were originally published in the American Breweriana Journal. 

Current articles cover the following locations:

Kevin is also one of the authors of St. Louis Brews: 200 Years of Brewing in St. Louis, 1809 – 2009, and the office manager at the international headquarters of the Brewery Collectibles Club of America in Fenton, MO. Here is a link to a recent article from the Metro St. Louis Suburban Journals on the BCCA.  http://bit.ly/BCCA20100824


Brewing In The Wild

Every year my friends Geoff and Val Seitz (Seitz Violin) have a party (Dogfest) at their 25 acre farm in Bonne Terre, MO. They invite many of their friends and customers to bring their camping gear, instruments, and dogs, to play in the wild. There is no electricity or running water, just a lot of beautiful trees, spring fed brook, and wildlife. Geoff invited me for the first time three years ago. Generally speaking only musicians get an invite. I told Geoff “I can’t play, but , I can brew” So the tradition was started. I brew a really big brew that will age nicely for a year and bring it back the following year for us all to enjoy. The first brew was a killer Russian Imperial Stout. Year number two produced an amazing Eisbock. This year I brewed an amped up Sticke Alt. This has become a really fun tradition that has turned out some of my best beers to date. There is something to be said for “brewing in the wild”. Enjoy the video.

Greg Bridwell
Founder, East Side Brewers

ESB News – July 2010

Saturday, 03 July 2010 08:48

There have been quit a few events over the past few months… brew days, demos, festivals, and awards. Here is a quick recap of those activities.

Mascoutah Brew Day (5/23/10)

On May 23rd at Scheve Park in Mascoutah Glenn Forneris hosted a brew day. He made a cream ale (for a friends wedding) with corn and rice adjuncts and used hallertau hops. Had some familiar faces show up and a few new people, so the club is growing. The quality of homebrew was encouraging. Glenn said, all-in-all, it was a beautiful day, and the beer turned out great!

St Jacobs BBQ – ESB Brewing Demo (6/5/10)stj1

Rick Goforth, along with Steve Long, and Glenn Preuter hosted a brewing demo in conjunction with the St. Jacob BBQ competition. Two beers were brewed and three beers were available for sampling; a coffee stout and Irish red donated by Jeff Harbaugh and a pale ale donated by Steve Long. Rick said they had a lot of people ask questions about the beer and process. There was also a lot of trading BBQ for brew. Rick said, I think it went very well and have no doubt we will be invited back next year. Additional note; Steve had three beautiful banners made for the club. Looks great!

stj2St. Louis Brewers Heritage Festival (6/11-12/10)

By Greg Campbell

We showed up Friday and started setting up the tappers and I was putting up the banners including our ESB banner which was the biggest and best looking, IMHO! Once open the pouring began and there were times you could walk right up to a commercial tap but they were four deep at the home brewers! As for us workers we were not only pouring but we had to handle the rinse pitchers, keeping them full. The dump buckets had to be emptied occasionally. All the runs to the semi trailers where the kegs were kept cold. When that was all done you might have enough time to sample a fresh keg of someone’s beer!

Geoff from the Garage Brewers Society was really good at getting our beers on tap along with his clubs and the St. Louis Brews. The Anheuser Busch Home Brewers Group, which I am also a member, was there and brought some fine beers. The AB folks had pictures laid out of their members brewing equipment and hop vines and basically anything to do with brewing. We manned the area to talk about brewing with those interested. I met a lot of nice folks there myself.

I must say the quality of beer was better this year than last. I remember having to pour a couple out last year but not so in 2010. In the Sat.Aft. session it began again and we were again very popular.

Right after the close of the Aft. session the rains came. It poured for a long time and even though this years tent was 100 X 300, a football field, the water had no where to go except flow under the tent. This made a muddy mess and sandals and boots were the preferred footwear for the evening.

On Sat. night it was time for me to be a participant so I was able to taste the Festival beers from the different breweries and home brewers. This year it was a “Bavarian Hefeweisen”. I tried all renditions and found a very close tie between two home brewers, Amalgamated and Anheuser Busch. Amalgamated was a little more “bananay” but very clean and refreshing as were the others.

I had made it back to the home brewers table and saw the St. Louis Brews had taken down our banner and moved theirs into it’s position and then rehung ours to the side but it sagged so bad you couldn’t read it. This didn’t make me a very happy camper so I went back and rehung it properly. Mother taught me to respect other peoples property, I guess not everyone got that lesson! By 10:00 my feet had had enough! I had tasted all I needed to so I gathered up some of our stuff and headed home.

I wanted to thank those members that made it out to help. These things don’t work unless you have volunteers to make things happen.

The event was a great experience. The ability to talk to several brewmasters from big to small breweries is one thing that makes this festival a great success. No power struggles or animosity, just people talking beer. That in itself was as refreshing as the beer!

ESB Member Wins Award

St. Louis Winners

St. Louis Winners

Recently, our very own Greg Campbell took first place in the Stout category in the AB Homebrewers competition. 75 beers were sent to St. Louis for judging by brew masters and corporate tasters. All beers were judged and the brewer was given the taste panels results in order to help them improve their beers. Ft. Collins Colorado swept the American Ale category and Columbus Ohio won in the wheat and rye. St. Louis got a first and second in Stouts. Greg’s Imperial Stout taking first and Mark Vance taking the second with his Milk Stout. The awards ceremony was put on “Live Meeting” so the other brewery entrants could see first hand if they had won. Greg said this was a very cool event. Congratulations Greg

Corporate tasting room in the Brewhouse

Corporate tasting room in the Brewhouse


Note from the Treasurer

John Nichols is busy updating the membership database and filling in some of the missing data including demographics, membership dues/expiration, member number, etc. Since some of this data was lost, John may be reaching out to some of you to help with the missing info. Thanks for your work on this John.

Upcoming Events

The Mustard Seed Homebrew Event is coming up on October 2nd. Check out the calendar for more details.