Good Life

Homebrewing as easy as making a cup of tea

Chris Schell, who brews a batch of beer at Robin Hood Brewing Company in 2013, is joining homebrewers on Thursday to talk about the craft.
Chris Schell, who brews a batch of beer at Robin Hood Brewing Company in 2013, is joining homebrewers on Thursday to talk about the craft. nmark@centredaily.com

Kids, don’t try this at home.

The rest of you — assuming you’re 21 or older, that is — might find it of interest that Schlow Centre Region Library will be hosting a Geek Speak forum on Thursday evening directed toward quenching your thirst for knowledge. Or beer. Would you settle for knowledge about beer?

Regardless, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., “Homebrew to Brewpub” will be tackling the science behind the beverage.

I always tell people if they can make a cup of tea than they can technically make beer.

Staci Amburgey

Staci Amburgey and Erynn Maynard, of the Penn State ecology program, will tackle the homebrew side of things, while Chris Schell, of Robin Hood Brewing Co., will talk scaling up production and adding special ingredients.

“I think it’s no secret around here that people like beer,” said Amy Madison, an adult services librarian at Schlow.

Madison, who enjoys making the occasional homebrew herself, saw a presentation that Amburgey and Maynard made at The All-American Rathskeller back in January.

The rest of the blanks pretty much fill in themselves — and it doesn’t sound like learning to homebrew takes much of an intuitive leap either.

“I always tell people if they can make a cup of tea than they can technically make beer,” Amburgey said.

Encouraging, no?

Amburgey picked up the trade back in 2010 while she was living in Colorado with her boyfriend. While taking stock of their surroundings, they realized that they alone among their friends were still getting their beer the old-fashioned way.

She’s since experimented with making any number of variations on beer classic, including of the tea-flavored variety.

It’s a hobby that’s as much about experimentation as it as about taste.

“You’re like ‘oh, that’s not something I can get very easily, but I could make it,’ ” Amburgey said

That’s what got Maynard interested. She was living in Mississippi and found herself disappointed with the limited selection available at local stores and breweries.

Her background in the sciences eased the transition from consumer to producer.

“My previous lab experience has definitely helped to inform brewing just in terms of keeping things sanitary,” Maynard said.

Thursday’s Geek Speak is aimed at bridging the gap for those without the scientific know-how to fall back on and will go into much more detail on the intricacies of the homebrew.

Still, just so nobody walks away from this feeling short-changed: Amburgey and Maynard recommend that beginners and old pros alike maintain a log of different brews that they attempt. That way, you can either repeat the same steps later — or avoid them all entirely.

“Every time, things are slightly different,” Amburgey said.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready

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