“This last Sunday I taught my first homebrewing class at the Bellingham Technical College (BTC). There was going to be a beer tasting class the Saturday before, but it got cancelled due to low sign up. Sunday’s class went pretty well, but there were a few hiccups. The biggest obstacle was not being able to hook up a wort chiller so it took a little extra time at the end. I really appreciate everyone who came and put up with me and my first attempt at teaching. They were enthusiastic and very patient when things didn’t go as smoothly as they could have. Especially since we had to use a classroom instead of the main kitchen as originally planned due to some renovation in the kitchen.
It was difficult to figure out the best way to get people to have hands on experience homebrewing in groups, in a classroom. Most homebrewing is designed around making 5 gallon batches. We had to figure out a good way to split that up between 3-4 people. What we came up with is that each person would get a one gallon carboy and airlock with some of the beer they made in it to take home and ferment. The assumption is that people taking this class are going to be homebrewing in the immediate future. The one gallon carboy is kinda unusual and not ideal compared to the 5 gallon batches they will make in the future. I am more concerned that they get good hands on experience that will give them the confidence to brew at home than if the one gallon of beer turns out great. I hope everything goes well for them when they do a full batch at home. Luckily we live in a town with a great homebrew store, Northcorner Brewing Supply, that is a great resource for beginning brewers. I remember when I first started brewing I made many worried and/or confused phone calls down there and Robert (the owner) always gave me great information. He still gives me good advice and ideas when I want to try something new at home. He helped me shape the structure of the homebrew class.
I meet lots of people who say they want to start homebrewing, but most of them don’t go much beyond saying they want to start. It is hard to just read a book and then start brewing away without seeing someone else do it first, or walk you through your first batch. Everyone who took the class went home with a beginning book on homebrewing and one gallon of beer they made. They will also get a discount on their beginner’s homebrewing kit from Northcorner Brewing Supply, thank you Robert. The next class will be in the kitchen at BTC with several stoves and (hopefully) more people. I should go smoother than the first one. Speaking of which, I have to give a huge thank you to Nick Crandall for helping me.
He kept everything running smooth and filled in any gaps that I left in the class.
Look for more beer and brewing classes from Anthony at BTC this fall. The tasting class is scheduled for Saturday Oct. 2nd. The beginner’s homebrewing class is scheduled for Saturday, October 9th. The tasting class will have a focused pairing prepared by the BTC’s Chef and Food Service Director, Marc Eilberg. He has some great ideas and I am looking forward to the class just to eat some of the awesome food he has planned. If this class is successful we could do some in the future that feature beers of different countries or regions. As it is planned now it will have lagers from Chuckanut Brewing, ales from Boundary Bay and North Fork, and one special beer at the end from Belgium. I wanted to focus on beers that are available locally so that people could go out and get their favorites on a regular basis. If the class expands then I might get to go out hunting for some hard to find beers and we could have some real fun. I could just go find some great beers and enjoy tasting them myself with some friends, but I really want to taste what Marc cooks up to go with them.
Both classes cost $35 and you have to be 21 years of age or older. Sadly, the clases are listed as “wine 105.” If we keep these classes going maybe we can get BTC to change their class grouping from “food and wine” to “food and beverage” or “food, beer and wine.” We’ll see…Please come and see all that beer has to offer. Cheers, -Anthony”