• Megs

Don’t Mind If I Brew

Brewing For Beginners: A Denver Area Brew Shop Created To Help YOU Learn the Basics of Home Brewing

Don't Mind

Ten years ago, when I first moved to Colorado, one of the first things I wanted to do was visit the Coors Brewing Company in Golden. My goal was to drink the beer that was created straight from the freshly melted snow of the Rocky Mountains. I wanted to hold a Coors Light can in my hand and know that the mountains on the can were truly blue because of the pure icy water that created the frothy beverage.

What I didn’t know then, is Coors is just one of the hundreds of breweries in Colorado. In fact, Colorado isn’t really known for its Coors beer, but rather, Colorado is best known for its craft breweries and beer festivals. Let’s just say, living here, I am in beer heaven. Now, whether I am in the Denver area, or traversing the state in my RV, one of my favorite things is finding a local brewery and sampling an ice-cold flight of beer.

Because brewing is so popular in Denver, the home brewing business is booming. What’s better than sampling beer at the local watering hole? Making the beer yourself! Since brewing isn’t a simple process, and the equipment alone can cost hundreds of dollars, it can be a challenging hobby to start up. Instead of wandering the web looking for equipment and reading countless magazines on the art of home brewing, why not try a place that has all of the needed materials for making beer at home? Better yet, why not buy the supplies and brew the beer all in one place?

CO-Brew, located near the downtown area of Denver, is the place to buy and brew for Denver locals. A few months ago, my husband and I were given a wedding gift of brewing from some friends of ours who are already making their own award-winning beer at home. We were excited to make our own beer but we didn’t have any equipment and our only expertise in the beer arena is that of the title: taste-testers. Before we went to our first session, we had to pick a beer that we wanted to clone. As newbie brewers, making our own recipe wasn’t recommended, so we chose to clone one our favorite beers, Oskar Blues Pinner IPA.

Once we arrived, CO-Brew’s owners Jamie and Jana greeted us and showed us around the shop. We pulled our recipe for the Pinner clone and headed into the grain room where we had a quick lesson on grains and taste tested the different types of grain and milled the grain we would use in our beer. Then we moved toward the brewing equipment and made the mash (the process of pulling the sugar out of the grains). The mashing process takes about an hour, so there is a lot of time to talk beer, sample the shop’s beer, and browse the supply shop.

Time seems to fly when brewing (sampling while brewing certainly helps pass the time) because before we knew it, we were on to part of the process where the water is brought to a boil and the hops are added in increments. Because we followed a recipe and had a master brewer at our side, we had to do very little thinking. Of course, Pat was all about the chemistry and calculations of the beer making process. He wanted every little bit described to him. Me? I chose to talk about pretty beer bottle labels with my friends.

After another hour, the hops were added and we moved on to the day’s last step, which is pouring our brew into sanitized fermentation buckets. This process is the step that creates the alcohol. Every beer has a different time where it needs to ferment before bottling and kegging can take place. Our process had a ten-day hiatus. During that time the beer fermented and Jamie added additional hops to make certain our clone would be ready to bottle and keg within the ten days.

According to Pat, ten very slow days passed before we could head back to CO-Brew to finish our Pinner clone. During this time, Pat ordered some equipment, planned out our own home brewing system, and brewed another beer at our friend’s house. He also made a list of the items we needed at home to make beer drinking more enjoyable. One little session and he was hooked.

With giant grins on their faces, Jamie and Jana greeted us at the door on our last day of brewing. They had already sampled our beer, and they were excited to have us taste our creation. They said it turned out amazing, and they were right. Even without the carbonation added, the flavor was clean, crisp, and almost exactly like the Pinner we buy at the store. I spent a good chunk of the evening with my nose in glass smelling the IPA aroma. At this stage in the brew making process, the smells are especially pungent and it is almost impossible to keep from sniffing the beer. Since we decided to bottle half of the beer and keg the other, we transferred the beer over into the separate containers. The bottles required a sugar solution to help carbonate the beer, and the keg would be filled, chilled, and carbonated at home using our own kegerator. Since the last part of the process can be done at home, we brought our beer with us, and within a few more short weeks, our IPA was the talk of the neighborhood. It’s a shame I never made those custom labels—we could market the goodness!

Bottom line: If you are looking to see what home brewing is about, stop looking and visit CO-Brew. The store is open for shopping and beer during operating hours, and people who want to see what brewing is about can pop over and inquire about brewing sessions. Most likely, someone will be brewing when you arrive, so check out what’s going on to get a better feel of the whole process. Once you see and smell the batches being made you will be hooked. We recommend CO-Brew because each step in the beer-making process is guided by one of the expert brewers who are passionate about their profession. CO-Brew makes a Colorado pastime come true, and anyone who wants to try their hands at brewing can make beer in a matter of a few hours. Stop questioning whether brewing is for you. Give CO-Brew a call!

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