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Brewing beer at home: Bigger than ever

By Josh Staloch
Staff Writer

GREEN BAY – A fermenter, airlock, bung, brew pot, heat source, siphon/tubing, cleaner, sanitizer and hydrometer – this list may sound like items needed for a science experiment, and to some degree you’d be right.

But to homebrew enthusiast John Parsons, it’s a list full of possibilities.

As the popularity of craft beer continues to steadily grow, beer connoisseurs of all ages are turning to a new avenue to quench their thirst with new flavors – by brewing it themselves.

Hops for hobbyists

Parsons, the proprietor of House of Homebrew (HOH), located at 410 Dousman St. in Green Bay, said the art of homebrewing has made huge strides in the last 25 years, and is easier than ever to get into.

He also said the business of homebrewing has done pretty well over the last two years as the COVID-19 pandemic did little to slow down the general public’s interest in the alchemy of crafting beer, yet many establishments that served it up had to close its doors or limit its patron size.

So many turned to homebrew.

“Yeah, during the height of the pandemic, it was just gangbusters,” Parsons, who has been brewing since the 1980s, said. “We had our best months, best year, all of that. And, we were basically closed the whole time. We delivered locally, we were able to do pick ups and we did a lot of shipping.”

He said the process itself has also come a long way.

“There’s the internet and now you can look up anything, which is maybe not the best because people, we always joke that, if you talk to 10 different brewers, you’re going to get 15 or 20 different answers to whatever question you’re asking,” Parsons said. “We always recommend just doing it the way that works for you.”

He said the wealth of readily-available information on how to brew at home has no doubt made getting into the hobby much more manageable for newcomers, while at the same time giving brewers of all experience levels plenty of opportunity to collaborate on different recipes.

National Homebrew Day

That collaboration is where the spirit of Big Brew for National Homebrew Day comes from.

Parsons said the intent of the May 7 event isn’t just to recognize the historical significance of homebrewing’s return to legality, it’s also an opportunity for brewers across the country to try their hand at making a chosen recipe.

In 1978, for the first time since prohibition began in 1920, homebrewing was declared illegal no more by President Jimmy Carter, and in honor of that momentous day in the history of beer, National Homebrew Day was established 10 years later by the American Homebrewers Association.

Now, the fermentation-loving community sets aside one day a year to celebrate and make beer.

The official Big Brew recipes highlighted during this year’s one-day celebration, which can be found online, are “The CommUNITY American Lager,” by homebrewer April Dove from Charleston, South Carolina, as well as “Dark Inception Imperial Porter,” from Marcus Baskerville of San Antonio, whose Weathered Souls Brewing Co. was responsible for launching the Black Is Beautiful collaborative brewing project.

More information on National Homebrew Day can be found at homebrewersassociation.org.

All you need, locally

Whichever recipe you’re considering for your own Big Brew, HOH on Dousman has you covered. 

From hops and grain to bottles and fermenters, Parsons and the staff at HOH can help get brewers of all experience levels on the right track to make the most out of your brew.

He said HOH is planning on having at least two batches of beer brewing, hopefully in their parking lot (weather permitted), on May 7 for Big Brew Day.

Parsons said HOH will offer discounts and the hope is, wink wink, Glass Nickel Pizza, will get involved.

Not just beer

Parsons said though HOH’s claim to fame is beer, the store is home to other types of homebrewing as well.

He said the store also carries the equipment, ingredients and supplies to make wine, cider soda, cheese and tea.

For more information on all products HOH carries, as well as how-tos on how to get started brewing, visit houseofhomebrew.com.

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