True Brew (excerpt)

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Rita Kohn interviews Joan Easley and Anita Johnson on homebrewing.


<p>A Guide to CrAft Beer in indiAnAriTA T. Kohn Photographs by Kris Arnold</p> <p>C In opy di ri an gh a te U d ni M ve a rs ter ity ia Pr l es s</p> <p>Brew</p> <p>True</p> <p>Contents</p> <p>xi List of Photographs xiii Foreword by Johnny Fincioen and Claudine Van Massenhove xv Preface: Learning Our Story Is a Journey xix Acknowledgments</p> <p>64 Barley Island Brewing Company 74 Rock Bottom Restaurant &amp; Brewery Downtown 78 Rock Bottom Restaurant &amp; Brewery College Park 83 Ram Restaurant &amp; Brewery 88 Sun King Brewery</p> <p>Part 1. The Background</p> <p>5 A History of Brewing: From Iraq to Indiana in 120 Centuries: Bob Ostrander</p> <p>13 Brew Heads: Local Brewers Gather for First-Ever Roundtable 24 Beer Judging: Paul Edwards 28 Homebrew Supply: Joan Easley</p> <p>32 Homebrew Supply: Anita Johnson Part 2. The Brewers 41 Central Indiana 42 Lafayette Brewing Company 53 Half Moon Restaurant &amp; Brewery 61 Brass Monkey Brewing Company</p> <p>C In opy di ri an gh a te U d ni M ve a rs ter ity ia Pr l es s93 Broad Ripple Brewpub 97 Brugge Brasserie 147 Northwest Indiana 176 Back Road Brewery</p> <p>90 Alcatraz Brewing Company</p> <p>108 Oaken Barrel Brewing Company 123 Upland Brewing Company 133 Bloomington Brewing Company</p> <p>148 Mishawaka Brewing Company 158 Shoreline Brewery &amp; Restaurant 169 Crown Brewing Company 179 Three Floyds Brewing Company 181 Brickworks Brewing Company</p> <p>Homebrew Supply Joan Easley</p> <p>Easley Winery205 North College Avenue Indianapolis, IN 46202 317-636-4516</p> <p>Joan Easley, founding owner, winemaker/homebrewer</p> <p>I think there is a resurgence of homebrewing. They are young fellows who like the real good beers and the brewpubs, but were into hard times, and they now prefer to commit themselves to making beer as good as that. Now then, if they come in and tell me they drink Miller Lite or something like that, I tell them theyre wasting their time homebrewing and to just go buy a six-pack because theyre not saving money homebrewing. But if they are into the Guinnesses or good ales, then they should start brewing because they will save a lot of money. It just seems like a whole new generation is coming along. We are still carrying kits, only now they are professionally made kits. Back when I started in 1974, they were not. We would just get a good recipe and put a kit together. What started me on all this is that I went to a meeting, I believe, in Akron, Ohio, and Char28</p> <p>lie Papazian sat next to me at this conference for people who sold beer and wine. I got all excited by meeting him and reading his book, The Complete Joy of Home Brewing, and seeing how he got going at it, and I started making beer myself. Whats so funny is at that time there were these little tiny bottles that Millers had put out, and I started making homebrew and bottling some of those. When people would come in, Id say, Heres the recipe, and this is what it tastes like. And Id make up a kit, and theyd go home with it. But now the kits are fabulous. They dont go as far as whole grain; they are concentrate [malt extracts]. A lot of people dont want to go to all-grain, and I had to get out of the all-grain business because it attracts too many little critters. But I have all the other grains that are flavor grains. The brewers who are into whole grain are getting their big sacks and other things at Great Fermentations. Anita Johnson is wonderful. She takes care of those guys. When I get whole grain people, I send them to her. Were very, very happy competitors. In the early days Id brew a batch almost every week from some recipe Charlie had in his book so I could get people to try them and buy the kits I put together and homebrew.</p> <p>C In opy di ri an gh a te U d ni M ve a rs ter ity ia Pr l es s</p> <p>C In opy di ri an gh a te U d ni M ve a rs ter ity ia Pr l es s</p> <p>29</p> <p>Back then there werent many homebrewers. John Hill was one of the first ones, and Paul Edwards, who was president of Foam Blowers for many years. And I remember Greg Christmas. They encouraged me to start carrying a lot of hops, so I planted hops. In the fall when the hops were ready, Id give them a bag and say, Go over there right in front of our garage building on the next street and pick your hops. So they had fresh hops to throw in, and they were just so excited. When I planted those hops, I bought three different kinds, but what happened was I had a little boy help me plant that day, and he mixed them all up, so I never really knew which were the Hallertauer [German Noble] and which were the others. We just knew they were good hops in mixture. Mystery hops started growing up around the telephone pole, and the telephone people dont like that, so they would send someone out to cut them down. Of course, cutting them down didnt do the job. Theyre still growing. They come up no matter what. Thats neat. A lot of the guys are growing their own hops now. I used to sell hop plants, but I dont now. From the beginning I thought there had to be a club because they needed to get in contact with one another. In the very beginning it was just individuals. It was Paul Edwards, I believe, who called a meeting. Paul was the big guru then. [Laughter] I dont think I formally joined the Foam Blowers. They had meetings here in the early days. We learned so much from each other. Charlie Papazian came to town, and we learned you had to keep your hops refrigerated. I didnt at first, and I noticed they were changing colors. You had to figure it out for yourself. Some of the guys were always talking about going to Seibel in Chicago, so Im glad to know some did go.</p> <p>My husband and I were home winemakers. He was a lawyer, but he always wanted to go into some business. He came home one day and said, What do you think if we started a vineyard? Some land is available in southern Indiana. So we went down there, and we started planting in Crawford County. It all started because some newspaper editor from the East brought some hybrid grapes over from France and found out that they did really well in the Midwest. Until then, the only grapes around here were Concord, Delaware, Catawba, the sweet grapes. His article in a wine publication got my husband really interested. So after that it was back and forth, back and forth every weekend when the kids were little, taking care of these grapes. And then after about four years we had grapes, so what were we going to do with them? He knew we were going to start a winery; he just didnt warn me about it. [Laughter] We could have gone down there and done a farm type thing, but his law practice was here and the children were in school, so we looked at three places in Indianapolis. This place was for sale, there was a house out on 16th Street with land to plant grapes around it, and the Water Company pumping station thats now in White River State Park. Its a little building that would never have been right for us. We bought this building and put his law office over here in the front of the building and made wine back here, with a little tiny tasting room. He died in 1997, and Mark, my son, took over. Jack wouldnt have been happy about that, because he felt there was no money in the wine business. He had talked with people in California who said it took them three generations before they made any money because you keep putting back into it and back into it. Mark married Meredith,</p> <p>30</p> <p>C In opy di ri an gh a te U d ni M ve a rs ter ity ia Pr l es sThe Background</p> <p>and shes the best thing that ever happened. She just loves this place, loves putting on the parties, loves buying for the gift shop. I feel so good about handing the whole thing over to them because they have connected tremendously with the community. We were selling the winemaking things, so I said, Lets sell beer making things, too. Ill learn how to make beer. I started reading the books. At the very first wine competition at the Indiana State Fair, I got a medal for my Concord wine. We were home winemakers then. I look back and think, if only I had known where it was going to reach. Concord was what we were growing then, so it was from our own grapes. We didnt yet have our good hybrid grapes. But now we get grapes from everywhere. We dont grow all of our grapes anymore. We buy from farmers in the business, so we have Indiana hybrid grapes, and we bring in some from California and some from Michigan. We got a gold medal last week at the competition in Story, Indiana, for our Cayuga White. I just love this kind of work, whether its wine or beer. Its so much fun to read Charlies book. Hes a fun person and so well recognized in Colorado. He was the guru. Theres no doubt about it, and that book of his made more brewers than anything or anyone else. I say to people who come in and want to make beer or are thinking of making beer, Dont buy the kit now. Just buy this book, and if you decide you want to make beer after you read this book, come back and Ill give you the money back when you buy the kit because there is a book as part of the kit. Once they read Charlies book, if they are at all interested, they become sold</p> <p>100 percent. Charlie is the funniest, happiest brewer I ever knew in my life. All of these early guys were all of his fans. We had our picture taken together when Charlie came to the Ram for a new edition of his book several years ago. He went around to the brewpubs across the country. The one we sell now is an even newer edition. Most of the new homebrewers who come in here start out independent. If they get really interested and go to all-grain, I ship them to Great Fermentations, and then I think many join a club. But Ive got customers who have been homebrewing for years and years, and they are still using kits. They dont want to be bothered with all that other stuff. But some of those fellows actually have little breweries at their home. I have found they are usually in the technical type professions, and through the years Ive noticed a lot of them have facial hair. They are computer people and engineers. I dont think Ive ever sold a beer kit to a salesman! I always ask them what they do, so thats just a personal observation. Right now were going back to homebrewing. Im selling lots of kits to first-time brewers. They dont know a thing about it, but theyve heard you can make it much cheaper than you can buy it. The complete kits are just fabulousfor example, this kit for Bold Russian Imperial Stout. These kits are what gets them going. In the early days, everything was just basic. Now there are so many options for homebrewing. Were expanding our storage space to accommodate it all. Interview April 30, 2009, at Easley Winery</p> <p>C In opy di ri an gh a te U d ni M ve a rs ter ity ia Pr l es sHomebrew Supply</p> <p>31</p> <p>Homebrew Supply Anita Johnson</p> <p>Great Fermentations5127 East 65th Street Indianapolis, IN 46220 317-257-9463</p> <p>Anita Johnson, owner</p> <p>I have loved beer most of my adult life. When I worked in Chicago during the summersI worked for my brother and we worked all of the timeone of our favorite things when we came home at night was to have Augsburger Dark, which was my favorite, with a salad, go to bed, get up, and do it the next day. So in 198081 I was drinking Augsburger Dark, and I loved it, and then we always tried to drink different beers when we traveled, and we enjoyed that. I can remember hosting a huge Brazilian Carnivale here in Indianapolis, as part of Partners in the Americas, which partners Indiana with Rio Grande de Sud. We imported beer from Brazil. There was a lot left over, so we went through that, and it started us on a craft beer journey. I remember being in Washington, D.C., and going to a pub and saying, Are there any local beers? We got Sam Adams, and we loved it. Just taken by it. We came32</p> <p>back here and couldnt find it for a couple of years. Wed ask for Sam, Sam something. And theyd offer us Sam Smith, and it was always a disappointment. I love food; I love beer pairing; I love to cook. Then a friend said, I make beer; I make beer; I make beer. I kept trying to get my husband to make beer, and he would never take the bait. So my friend invited us over to his house to try his homebrew, and I remember going down to his basement to pour a pint from his Keg-o-liter, and my eyes opened as I tried it. It was the best beer Id ever had in my life. I asked him to come over and teach us how to do it. He said, Sure, as long as you make me dinner. I asked, What do you want? He said, Fish sticks and macaroni and cheese from a box. He took me to another homebrew shop here in town. We looked at equipment, then came to Great Fermentations and bought our equipment and started on this journey. Then the store was going out of business, and my husband said, How would you like to own your own homebrew shop? The roles were reversed. I was badgering him to start brewing. Now he was badgering me to quit my job and open a homebrew shop. With very little forethought and business plan, we did it, and Im</p> <p>C In opy di ri an gh a te U d ni M ve a rs ter ity ia Pr l es s</p> <p>C In opy di ri an gh a te U d ni M ve a rs ter ity ia Pr l es s</p> <p>33</p> <p>glad we did it. That was in 1985, at 86th Street across from North Central High School, then Broad Ripple, and now here. Weve gone from 1,000 square feet to 4,000 square feet, and were starting to burst at the seams. Its exciting. There are a lot of changes. Its growing, and its growing a lot. I see that people are more interested in the food and beverages that they consume; a buy local kind of movement, slow-food and the craft beer side of things talking about beer/food pairings, not just consumption. I see interest in the quality of food and beverage. The quality of the collective brewing and beer knowledge is so much better than even thirteen years ago when I started. You have the internet. You have the people who come in who have watched videos of brewing on YouTube, which is for learning as well. You have podcasts that talk about very technical, geeky parts of brewing which are available to anybody at no cost. You have shows that are brewing to style. You have the brewing network, which talks about technical brewing subjects weekly. The collective brewing knowledge is so much greater. On a local level you have a couple of homebrew clubs that have inner competitions. Theres so much more knowledge; it can be knowledge of technical or scientific parts, or it can be creative. Weve seen an interest in wood-aged beers, and that came from the craft industry. Weve seen a greater interest in Belgian beers, which Brugge in Broad Ripple started. It goes both ways because homebrewers influence commercial and craft beer brewers. We have the Pro-Am Competition at the Great American Beer Festival, where a homebrew recipe that has won an award is brewed by a home and professional brewer in a brewery and submitted for competition. You have styles like classic American pilsner that were reintroduced34</p> <p>by homebrewers....</p>