The brewing scene that American beer lovers are now profiting from is due, in large part, to the resourcefulness and ingenuity of homebrewers. Prohibition decimated much of our immigrant brewing culture and the breweries that survived industrialized and merged to leave our country with about 50 breweries, all producing roughly the same beer, by the midpoint of the 20th century (in 2011, there were 1,989 breweries, the highest number since the 1880s).
Making homebrewing legal in 1978 opened a floodgate of creativity and gave many homebrewers the practice and the courage needed to open the craft breweries that make your beer today. Home-brew clubs in Eastern Iowa are a great resource for anyone who has ever wanted to brew a batch of beer, wine, cider or mead.
- The Cedar Rapids Beer Nuts meet on the third Thursday of each month
- Find details about upcoming meetings at Crbeernuts.org in the forums sections
- Benz Beverage Depot’s annual beer tasting festival will be May 11. For details, go to Benzbeveragedepot.com
I recently had a chat with Cedar Rapids Beer Nuts home brewing club President Tim Sines about the club, what it offers, and where he sees it going in the future.
How long have the Cedar Rapids Beer Nuts been around? How has it changed?
The club has been around for 12 years, I think. In that time, the club has changed significantly. Back in the early days, it was a bunch of guys hanging out in member’s houses drinking home brew. But as the hobby grew, so did the club. We started going to more events, and people were getting to know us. We have a lot of fun, and that is contagious. Eventually, we outgrew the basement, and the decision was made that we should start having meetings in public places. As of last year, all meetings are in public. It makes it easier for people to come out and meet us. This past October, we hosted our first Beer Nuts Home-brew Fest.
How does the club reach out to the beer curious of Cedar Rapids?
We are already planning a busy year pouring at events starting with Benz Beer Fest on May 11. We have a couple of annual events that are educational. The first Saturday in May is Big Brew Day (an American Homebrewers Association event). Clubs all over the country do a public brewing, for people who are interested in the hobby. Learn to Home-brew Day (formerly Teach a Friend to Brew Day) is also an (American Homebrewers Association) sanctioned event, where members invite friends to come hang out and brew. Those are both open to the public. In addition to those events, we have a Brewing Today section on our forum, where members will announce when they are brewing, and you can come see a brew session in action. We have reached out to some craft beer bars in C.R., and have done beer education with staff members.
Is there a beer style that is the favorite of the club? Your favorite?
What day of the month is it? Club favorite styles are all over the place. India Pale Ales are always a hit. Lately, sour beers are the hip thing. Barrel aging is very popular. But things will change soon enough. I am a hophead. I love hoppy beers. I’ve been on a sour kick, as well. I brew a lot of India Pale Ales. Last year, I bought way too much wheat malt. Everything I brewed had wheat it in it. I did a whole series of wheat (Indian Pale Ales).
Why should you want to brew your own beer?
In a post apocalyptic society, we will be a heck of a lot more popular than the guy collecting stamps. Seriously though, it’s a hobby that results in beer and it’s not hard to do. It’s cheap. I make all of my own equipment. My current mash tun was previously my oldest beer cooler. I can brew great beer for less than I can buy it.
Does someone interested in attending a meeting need to have knowledge of brewing beforehand?
No. We have had several members who had never brewed before joining.
What’s your favorite place to have a beer in Eastern Iowa?
Next to a campfire.