It’s been a few years now since a friend and I took up home brewing, and I’d recommend it as a hobby if you fit in to one of these categories:
- You like to cook.
- Chemistry holds some appeal.
- You’re pretty sure drinking beer is fun.
Find a friend with overlapping interests, and you’re in business.
Conor Lawrence and the gang at 514 Studios/Callahan & Co. have been brewing for longer than I have, and for years they’ve been brewing up a house recipe – Dirty Larry Brown – giving bottles away to clients and friends. When Conor told me the story of Dirty Larry Brown over coffee recently, I thought it would make for a fun photo shoot, documenting the making of a signature calling card of their business, while at the same time giving a sense of 514 Studios as a place. And a project was born.
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If you’re unfamiliar with the beer brewing process, it’s a pretty simple deal. The alcohol is created by taking the sugars from roasted and dried barley and other grains, boiling them in water for an hour or so with hops for bitterness and floral taste and smell characteristics, then cooling it down to room temperature and storing it for a while with some special yeast. The yeast eats the sugar and releases alcohol. Voila!
Of course there are countless variations of grains, hop varieties, and yeast strains to choose from – not to mention enough gear to keep any guy with his face in a Northern Brewer catalog for hours at a time. And for the OCD crowd, there’s the lingering danger that one small bacteria could get by your fastidious cleaning routine and skunk the whole 5 gallon batch. Ask any home brewer about any one of these nuances and you’re liable to be roped in to an hour and a half conversation. With any luck you’ll get a beer or two out of the deal, but just be warned.
In the brew pot the day I swung by was a recipe by the name of Ferocious, modeled after a certain aggressive local IPA favorite. The beer called for what some might consider a ridiculous number of hops, which Conor models in a few photos in the gallery. But the fun – and my favorite photos from the shoot, from a brewer’s perspective – came when it was time to transfer the wort (the raw liquid that will be beer after it ferments for a while) from the boil kettle to the carboy. Since there are always hops and other things in the wort, the boil kettle has a screen over the spigot to keep the non-liquids out of the carboy. But our boy Ferocious had so many hops that it clogged the screen and wouldn’t let any liquid through. Problems. So then Conor and his friend Dave tried bypassing the spigot and pouring through a strainer and in to a funnel. Then that clogged! Finally, other options defeated, the rest of the whole hoppy stew was poured straight in to the carboy.
And you know what? It’ll be delicious.
Thanks to Conor and Dave for sharing space, time, and brews. Looking forward to bottling.