THE CRAFT BEHIND CRAFT BEERS
A LOOK INSIDE THE GROWING TREND OF DIY BEER
The beer industry is no longer a handful of massive brands, churning out mass-produced beverages with little experimentation. The craft beer movement is sweeping the nation and inspiring drinkers to break out of their comfort zone to try something new.
This is exactly what Mark Stillman is hoping people will do. He owns a Jacksonville Beach-based brewery known as Green Room Brewing. It isn’t a massive factory in an industrial district, manufacturing millions of bottles. Instead, it’s a facility comparable in size to a house.
Stillman and his business partner, Eric Luman, got the idea to open a brewery during some “R and D; research and drinking,” says Stillman. The pair started off by brewing an India Pale Ale (IPA) known as Head High.
IPAs are beers that include additional hops, one of beer’s basic ingredients, to give a bitter flavor and aroma. These beers have gained extra attention by brewers due to their local popularity.
Once the team perfected a flagship IPA, they began to experiment with flavors. Stillman said they began adding chocolate to recipes to create the stout named Count Shakula. But the Green Room didn’t stop there. They created beers with fruit flavorings, mint flavors, peanut butter and even a beer made with salt water from their close neighbor, the Atlantic Ocean.
Green Room is able to produce and distribute their foamy beverages using industrial equipment on site. Although smaller than what will be found at a major brewing facility, it’s still larger and more expensive than what a person might want if they prefer their beer with a little more do-it-yourself kick.
DIY beer, or homebrewing, is the process of making beer in one’s home. This allows people to “take water, the blank canvas, and create something yourself,” according to Gary Solomon, a homebrewer and employee at beer supply store Just Brew It.
Solomon has been making beer with his friends for about eight years and his setup might be a little beyond the skill of somebody brewing their first batch. No need to fear, says Solomon. Just Brew It carries starter kits and supplies for homebrewers of all levels. The shop has equipment, ingredients, resource guides and some friendly expertise.
Thanks to stores like Just Brew It, people can make and enjoy beer from the comfort of their own home. While there are some people looking to brew for profit and business, that’s not the goal for most homebrewers.
“The best is usually made for the people, by the people that are actually about it,” says Solomon. Because of this, he believes that homebrewing is its own art form, or rather, its own craft.