I started to drink craft beer in the late 2000s. In Chicago, I lived in a building with some of the world’s best neighbors. Two of my neighbors were in the process of opening a homebrew shop (Brew Camp) when they moved into the building. I shopped around the store, but I never took a class. I watched as they mashed and boiled in our shared backyard. I was fascinated by the process, but that was as close as I came at the time.
When I moved back to Indianapolis in 2012, I was still interested in learning to brew. Fortuitously, I met Erik, who had been brewing for years. When I mentioned my interest in learning, he offered to teach me. He taught me about BJCP style guidelines and showed me how to build a recipe. I didn’t know any differently at the time, but I completely skipped extract brewing (where most brewers start) and went straight to all-grain. Together, we made a s’more stout.
I spent weeks researching to build the recipe for my first batch. Once I settled on a style (Southern English Brown), I reviewed several publications to compare different recipes and recommendations. As I was developing the recipe, I also got great advice from the staff at Great Fermentations; Anita was especially encouraging—she recommended I enter into competitions for feedback before I’d even brewed the batch. I brewed my first batch in early 2013.
The batch came out great and I prepared to enter it into Upland Brewing’s UpCup and the Indiana State Fair Brewers’ Cup. Erik mentioned that UpCup was one of his favorite events, so I was especially excited to attend. I couldn’t believe my ears when they announced my name during the awards! My 221B Baker Street Brown was awarded third place overall in the competition, so I got some sweet prizes (including a case of Upland beer). I also remember trying Bloomington Brewing Co.’s 10-Speed Hoppy Wheat for the first time that day, which is a beer I’ve loved since.
Since that amazing introduction into homebrewing, I continue to refine my first recipe in addition to building new ones. Through homebrewing, I have been able to build some great relationships with fellow homebrewers and in the brewing community. When Erik and I were married, I knew the expectations for the beer selection at our reception were high; I am thankful that we could include delicious beer and cider made by friends. Because you can never do too much fermenting, I make cider and wine also. Nearly 5 years after my first batch, I’m working at FH Steinbart, the oldest homebrew supply store in the country. I’m also fortunate to have a supportive husband who doesn’t mind the 100 pounds of grapes currently fermenting in our living room.