Art and science of making a good home brew

Alisa Fox

Sometimes it may seem like beer at the bar is too expensive, and even store-bought beer can cost a bit more than you are willing to pay.

Collin Gaudard, a senior graphic communication major, has solved this dilemma by brewing his own beer.

“I found out that my dad had home brewing equipment, and I had heard it was relatively inexpensive to do,” Gaudard said. “So, I figured I wouldn’t mind having a bunch of good beer around that I don’t have to pay too much for.”

Brewing kits are an easy way to get started in beer making. They cost between $20 and $40 and come with every tool and ingredient needed.

Buying the individual tools and ingredients may be less expensive but usually come in bulk quantities.

“Beer making can range from simple kits containing only a few ingredients to a very complex process with lots of steps and many variables to take into account,” Gaudard said. “It all depends on what you want out of your beer.”

Whichever process is taken, Gaudard said he has an enjoyable time making beer.

“The brewing process is a blast in itself,” Gaudard said. “It’s like cooking a complex meal for four hours, and there’s a lot of downtime so you get to sit around and drink and talk beer while you watch your beer come together.”

While the simpler kits may have fewer steps and are easier to put together, either way, sanitation is an important part of successfully making beer.

“Sanitation: it is absolutely the most crucial part of the process,” Gaudard said. “Everything that comes in contact with your beer must be completely sterile or there is a good chance you are going to spoil your beer.”

Without sterile instruments and workplace, there is a chance that bacteria and other organisms could get into the beer, causing the flavor to turn sour.

Aside from that risk, Gaudard said he enjoys making beer frequently and has tried many flavors.

“So far I’ve mostly stuck to darker beers like brown ales, porters and things like that because that’s mainly what I’m into,” Gaudard said. “I’m really excited to try a recipe for an IPA (India Pale Ale) I recently created, as well as a few other lighter-bodied beers.”

While making beer seems like an exact science, it does not take away from the brewer’s creativity, if they know what they want.

“In every batch I try and add a little something extra like ginger, clove, vanilla, hazelnut and so on,” Gaudard said. “It just makes the beers a little bit more interesting.”

Gaudard said beer is not the only thing he is interested in making, as far as alcohol goes.

“I’ve made a hard cider before,” Gaudard said. “This summer, I’m planning on apprenticing under the winemaker at the winery I work at during my summers.”

Each summer, Gaudard works at the Forty-Five North Vineyard and Winery in Traverse City, Mich.

Gaudard is not the only one in Marquette who brews his own beer. Blackrocks Brewery and the Vierling Restaurant are some of the local businesses that brew and sell their own beers. White’s Party Store on Third Street sells home brewing supplies.

“Support your local breweries and home brewers,” Gaudard said. “And just relax, have a home brew and enjoy.”