Home Brewing

by Dana Kester-McCabe

Megan Mudron and Bret Hines tell us how easy home brewing can be.

Last week I met Megan Mudron and her fiancé Bret Hines who run Naturally Sun Kissed Farm in Bishopville. They are avid home brewers of beer. Bret also has professional experience in this area. He is the assistant brew master at a new microbrew in West Rehoboth called Revelation Brewery. Megan and Bret grow their own hops, which they do sell, but mostly they use it in beer they brew for their own consumption. I asked them to tell us a little bit about what is involved in home brewing for those folks who are considering trying it out for themselves.

Megan Mudron:
"So, home brewing began [for Megan and Bret] in Colorado. We lived in a town where they had sixteen breweries, so beer is a big part of their culture and my background is actually molecular biology, and so that is what my masters is in. A friend of mine was really into home brewing and he invited us over one day to show us what he was doing and we really enjoyed it. Me, because I like the science, and learning about the yeasts and all of the chemical properties of it. Bret more because I think he just likes to drink the beer. And he enjoys the engineering side, and the mechanics of it. It started as home brewing and now Bret is a professional brewer."

Bret Hines:
"Like and hobby or craft, it can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. And that is the beauty of it. Because when we started, we would literally go to the local Whole Foods Store and buy unpasteurized apple cider, add a little champagne yeast and put a cap on there that will let the CO2 come out then drink it a few weeks later. As simple as that, to worrying about what hop variety we want to use to get certain acid compounds and flavors, to using specialty malts to have varying dryness and sweetness and protein contents."

I asked Bret and Megan what you needed to start brewing beer at home.

Bret Hines:
"A couple of five gallon buckets and a couple of food grade tubes, for high temperatures, and any good Eastern Shore Marylander or Delmarva person knows that there is a crab pot and crab burner is somewhere stored on their property so, you just need a heat source and some clean water, really."

Megan Mudron:
"The process is very simple. You make sugar water and that's called wert. It's steeping like tea. You steep the grains and draw out that. The hops need to be boiled to fully extract that compound. So it would boil anywhere from fifteen minutes. We normally do a sixty to seventy minute boil. After that it needs to be cooled. You can do that naturally, you could do that with equipment. But after that you add your yeast after it is cooled. So you need malt which is the sugar, you need hops which is the bittering, and then you need yeast, and then of course included in that is the water you are using. So, four ingredients. You could add as many spices as you want. You can be as complicated as you want. But it really just needs four ingredients."

Bret Hines:
"Uh Huh. It can take anywhere from a week to two or three weeks for the alcohol to really be created and the yeast to reabsorb all of their flavor compounds to get the right beer style you are going for. And then if you are naturally carbonating your beer by back sweetening it with sugar and then bottle conditioning; that could be another two weeks. Or if you just keg it and force carbonate it with CO2 which expedites the process, you can be done in just a matter of a day or two."

Find out more about this topic;
Wikipedia: Homebrewing
How to Brew Beer: Beginner
How to Home Brew Beer in Your Kitchen
How To Brew