From Today’s Onion/AV Club (DC):
“Our brewing baby might be a miscarriage, but our friends are overly encouraging,” jokes Guy Anthony, a member of the newly formed D.C. Homebrewers Club. Then again, what friends wouldn’t hold out hope for a quaffable homemade Hefeweizen?
That was the thinking of brothers Mike and Brian Dolan, who created the fledging group earlier this year hoping to attract hip, young District residents who either brew their own beers or are toying with the idea. Following a stint in beer-centric Belgium for two years and a job in a Boston beer store during college, co-founder Brian developed a love for the drink; on his graduation night, the brothers decided that they would take that love to the next level—brewing their own.
While the brothers usually base their brews on a recipe, they also improvise. Smelling their way through an organic market, they picked up “sacred bark,” an herb with a pleasant aroma. They went through the whole process of brewing and bottling, and, as they were enjoying their first round of beers, they thought to Google “sacred bark.” They then immediately threw out all of the bottles, as they discovered their special ingredient was a laxative.
Of course, not all brewing stories end in the toilet; some end in love. Club members Martin and Kristen Doczkat started brewing beer before they even turned 21, but that was the point—they were allowed to buy all the equipment to make beer despite being underage. To highlight their dedication to brewing, and each other, they made their own wedding mead and gave it out as favors. The Doczkats brought their version of an Irish cream stout, “Top O the Mornin’,” to share at a recent D.C. Homebrewers’ event.
While some brewers follow tradition, some outright mock it. Leo Sylvester and Mehan Jayasuriya, guided by Brian, concocted a crazy brew with inspiration from a variety of sources and called it “Burn Sauce: Mehan And Leo’s Old Timey Extra Chewy Honey Peanut Butter Smoked Oatmeal Bourbon Habanero And Jalapeño Pepper Stout.” Their goal was to emulate the creamy peanut-butter taste in pad Thai, the thick head of an oatmeal stout, with a kick from chilies. There’s even a slice of jalapeño dropped in each beer as a nod to worms in tequila. Not surprisingly, this novelty beer soon became the talk of the club.
The D.C. Homebrewers meet once a month; some members found the group by word of mouth or on beer fan sites such as BeerAdvocate.com. For a meeting devoted to drinking beer, there’s certainly a lot of organization: Walking into the meeting, participants sign in and put on a nametag. Once the room fills, everyone takes turns introducing themselves and their brew. Then, it’s time for the drinking. In between sips of beer, club members recall their failures and successes in experimenting. They share trade secrets and hops and equipment finds at local stores. When you get down to it, it’s drunken networking—what young D.C. does best.
The D.C. Homebrewers Club meets TODAY, Thursday, April 24. Visit dchomebrewers.com and click on “Join” to get meeting information.