MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark.—Members of the Twin Lakes Home Brewers recently showed off multiple ways of brewing beer at the group's first public demonstration at Rapp's Barren Brewing Company in Mountain Home.
The three types of brewing the club showed off—the extract method, brew-in-a-bag and whole-grain brewing—showed the varying complexities available to would-be home brewers.
"It's all about following a recipe," club president Kyle Swallow told The Baxter Bulletin. "If you can make mac and cheese, you can brew beer."
The club, which formed about two years ago, now has 30 members. The demonstration attracted not only current club members, but local residents interested in home brewing.
"We've had a lot of interaction with people that have never brewed," club member Pat Ryan said. "We've had a good turnout."
Ryan said most would-be brewers get into the hobby using the extract method, which has hobbyists use pre-processed malt extract and usually comes as part of a beer-making kit.
"Most people start in their kitchens," he said. "I started with the Mr. Beer kits. You can buy them at Bed, Bath & Beyond. They are about as simple as they can make them."
The craft beer kits come with detailed instructions and tell the would-be brewer how to combine the prepackaged ingredients and boil the mixture to produce wort, a sugary substance. The beer-kit instructions also cover adding the prepackaged yeast to the wort and how to store the mixture until it matures into beer.
Ryan compared the beer-making process to baking a cake, and the craft beer kits to using a cake mix.
"You can use a cake mix and add a couple eggs, or you can take flour, sugar and all the ingredients and make it from scratch," he said.
Club member Bob Bainbridge manned the club's brew-in-a-bag station, steeping a large bag of grains in hot water for over an hour like it was a giant tea bag. After draining and removing the bag, he added hops to the water and boiled the concoction for another hour, creating wort. The wort was combined with yeast and left to ferment into beer in a couple weeks' time.
The club's whole-grain brewing station had members boiling ingredients in a large pot then transferring that mixture to a large holding tank. Sparge water is then flushed through the tank and wort is drained from the bottom of the tank. The wort is then combined with yeast and bottled to eventually become beer.
"The kits are fine, but I like to use my own recipes," club member Mike Foley said.
The Twin Lakes Home Brewers meet the third Thursday of the month at 6 p.m. in the banquet area of Rapp's Barren. A typical meeting has some sort of demonstration or educational presentation pertaining to brewing, followed by a tasting of beers brewed by club members. The next meeting will focus on harvesting and reusing yeast, club members said.