Even with the huge selection of well brewed beers available on today’s shelves, there are some beer enthusiasts who still love to get their hands into the malt and hops while brewing at home.
On January 16, 1919, the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, banning the manufacture, sale and transportation of alcohol (Prohibition), including beer made at home. President Jimmy Carter reversed this when he signed H.R. 1337 into law, which contained an amendment creating an exemption from taxation of beer brewed at home for personal or family use. This exemption went into effect on February 1, 1979, making homebrewing legal on a federal level in the U.S.
Although laws differ from state to state, as far as I am aware, there are homebrewers in all 50 states. We have several active homebrew clubs in the area including Michiana Extract and Grain Association (MEGA) based in South Bend, and Kalamazoo Libation Organization of Brewers (KLOB) based in Kalamazoo.
Many of our local professional brewers got their start as homebrewers including Chip Lewis at Iechyd Da Brewing in Elkhart, Brandon Stanley at New Paradigm Brewing, also in Elkhart, Chris Gerard at Bare Hands Brewery in Granger, as well as a few brewers who will be opening new breweries soon — Andy Walton at Crooked Ewe Brewery and Ale House in South Bend, Jeff Thomas and Gary Stieglitz at Thomas Stieglitz Brewing in Goshen, and Jesse Sensenig at Goshen Brewing Co., also in Goshen.
James Stuckey Weber returned to Goshen after spending time in Denver, Colo., where there is a large beer and homebrew community. With his excitement and passion for homebrewing, he organized a group in the Goshen area that shared his excitement for the craft. Over the past year and a half, they have gathered sporadically to brew together, sample each other’s beer, and learn together about how to improve their craft.
“I hope that some homebrewers not already aware of our group will show up with their homebrews and join us,” he said.
Beer and homebrewing is a community activity, so the more people that get involved, the better. Currently there is a core group of about eight to ten homebrewers with over 50 members on its Facebook group. According to Weber, about half are active homebrewers, and the other half are interested in good, quality beer.
Several members of the group have shared what they will be bringing to the meeting. James will be bringing a Caramel Amber (his first experience with making his own caramel from scratch), a Scotch Ale pushing 12 percent, and a Peach Wit that was part of a shared batch with other members of the group.
Jon Huber hopes to brewing some Peach Red Hefeweizen and Gumby’s Busty Porter, but his All-In American Pale Ale — which was just brewed recently — will not be ready in time.
Rodolphus Hanby has a really dark Amber Ale (possibly a black ale) that should be ready. This is his first dry hopped homebrew, and he will also have a few bottles of his English Ale that was brewed awhile back.
Jonny Gerig Meyer will be bringing a bottle or two of a session IPA.
Chris Horst, who also works at DIY will be bringing a Russian Imperial Stout. In fact, it’s the biggest beer that he has ever brewed and will weigh in around 10-12 percent or higher (for those beer geeks and homebrewers out there, the original gravity measured at 1.1).
DIY Coffee and Ale Supply has a large selection of homebrew ingredients and equipment. They carry everything from kits for beginners, to milled malted barley for all grain brewers. And even if you can’t make it to the Goshen Homebrew Club meeting, stop in and check out the store. It’s a great place to hang out, have a cup of coffee and chat about beer.