The Downriver Brewers Guild, with both novice home brewers and experienced experts, meets the second Friday of the month at the Southgate Civic Center to share samples, tips and stories.
Meetings are held in an upper-level conference room in the ice arena, 14700 Reaume Parkway.
The group’s president, Peter Jett Sr. of Rockwood, said the group includes “some of the nicest, like-minded home brewers you will ever find in the Downriver area.”
“We are just home brewing enthusiasts who like to meet every month and share, so we can talk about each other’s beer and how we made it,” he said. “We give feedback and we learn from each other.”
Jett said their interest is driven by craftsmanship and the desire to learn more about beer.
“We are here to share and compare, and give feedback, and through that, we all improve,” he said. “And we just have a good time. It’s good camaraderie.”
Home brewing is inexpensive to start doing, Jett said.
“You can buy some very rudimentary equipment, and you can even start on your stovetop with a good-sized kettle,” he said. “And all you need then is a vessel you can transfer the beer into to ferment, and from there, you are good to go.”
Jett said that beer typically ferments from one to two weeks, depending on the style of beer and the recipe ingredients.
He said beer flavors vary, based on the grain, hops, yeast, water, brewing process and environment.
“There are a number of factors that will affect the taste of beer,” Jett said.
Peter Bussa of Dearborn said he developed an interest in home brewing beer after he attended a beer tasting at the Royal Oak Brewery.
He said he started home brewing after he moved into his own apartment and a local beer store had a sale on beer brewing kits, a process he said is “fairly easy.”
“If you can make cake from a box, you can make beer,” Bussa said. “And quality and taste are definitely an advantage.”
He said it is cheaper to make a premium beer at home than it is to buy it.
“You cannot make Budweiser as cheap as Budd makes Budweiser,” Bussa said. “But you can make Bell’s Expedition Stout for less than you can buy it.”
He said if a person enjoys high-end, high quality beer, they can brew it themselves for less than it costs to buy it.
Annette May of Allen Park, a professional beer educator, a faculty member in the brewing and distillation technology program at Schoolcraft College in Livonia and an advanced Cicerone, said more women are appreciating beer.
“We are working very hard to diversify the beer industry, and get more women involved,” she said. “That is a big passion of mine, and something that I work very hard to try and influence and grow a lot.”
May said women were the original beer brewers in the Middle Ages, when the women did all the food preparation and the men were out in the fields hunting.
“At some stage in history, that changed into a male-dominated industry, and mostly male drinkers,” she said. “But it is definitely far, far away from that now.”
May said people should approach beer by evaluating how they like the flavor.
“Do you like this flavor that is in your glass right now, the same way you’d approach any food?” she said. “When you taste something new for the first time, do you like the flavor, or do you not? I think a lot of people don’t approach beer from that viewpoint.”
May said a lot of people don’t smell beer properly before they taste it.
“Aroma is 75 percent of our entire flavor of anything,” she said. “So, on mistake, when you drink beer out of a bottle or can, rather than pour it into a glass, and you can’t smell and taste it properly, and you lose the nuance of the beer.”
Tom Yaeger of Wyandotte said he started brewing his own beer because he wanted to try different beers, beyond Budweiser and Miller Lite.
“I actually started brewing beer and drinking different types of beer by brewing it myself, to begin with,” he said. “The first time I came to a meeting here, I had never had a porter-type beer in my life, and the first time I drank it, I just fell in love with it, and I couldn’t wait to make one.”
He said when he has questions about brewing beer, people in the group can help him and answer his questions.
Mike Bardallis of Allen Park said that 30 years ago, if you wanted decent beer, you were hard-pressed to find it.
“I knew that a great-uncle of mine, who I was pretty close to, brewed beer during Prohibition, and so I knew it was a thing that you could do at home,” he said. “After the first time I brought some beer up from the cellar that I made myself, and sat down and had it, I said ‘this is living,’ and I haven’t been able to do without it since then.”
The next meeting of the Downriver Brewers Guild is at 7:30 p.m. June 11 at the Southgate Civic Center ice arena, 14700 Reaume Parkway.
For more information, visit the Downriver Brewers Guild Facebook page or contact Jett at firstname.lastname@example.org.