The Art of Homebrewing, Explained

Written by on October 24, 2012 in Featured, Neighborhood News - No comments

Baltimore Beer Week is well underway and running through Sunday, Oct. 28. Check their Web site,, for information and an event schedule.

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In honor of Beer Week, Baltibrew, a city homebrewers’ club, is holding Chilibrew, a beer tasting and chili cook-off, on Friday, Oct. 26, at the 2640 Space, 2640 St. Paul St. For a suggested donation of $15, attendees may eat chili and sample home-crafted brews. One hundred percent of proceeds are donated to local organizations: Whitelock Community Farm, the Baltimore Rock Opera Society, and The Indypendent Reader.

The Baltimore Guide caught up with Daniel Lagassé, a homebrewer and member of Baltibrew who lives in Patterson Park (the neighborhood, not the actual park)

How long have you been brewing beer?
Daniel: About two-and-a-half years now.

How did you get started?
I’d always wanted to do it in college. Now that I have a basement where I can actually do things, I started it in Baltimore. I’m a grad student at Johns Hopkins University, and a lot of the lab work is transferable.

How much beer do you brew in a year?
Typically about 60 gallons, or 12 batches. Once a month, I’ll do 5 gallons.

What is the secret to home brewing?
Sanitation and general cleanliness, as well as willingness to experiment. You want to avoid contamination by unwanted bacteria or yeasts—that affects the flavors.

What style do you like to brew?
I like Scotch ales a lot. It’s an ale, typically featured in Scotland, that’s more malty than hoppy. A lot of times, it has notes of caramel or raisins. It’s medium to heavy as far as mouth feel; it’s a good fall to winter beer.

What is the best beer you’ve ever brewed?
Probably my juniper pale ale. It’s got a lot of American hops, a lot of citrus notes, and a grapefruity, floral aspect. I was trying to recreate a gin and tonic in ale form.

How much time/money is invested in the hobby?
The initial investment can be 100 to 150 bucks. Per batch, anywhere from 30 to 50 bucks, depending on the strength of the beer. As far as time goes, the brew date can go anywhere from four to eight hours, depending on the method you use… There’s a lot of hurrying up and waiting. We sit around and drink beer while we do it.

What is your favorite everyday beer available at most liquor stores?
It’s Victory Prima Pils, made up in Pennsylvania. It’s gold in color, real clear, and it’s got some bitterness to it. It’s a real clean beer.

What is the best beer you’ve ever had?
There’s this beer from Vermont called Heady Topper, brewed by The Alchemist. You can only really get it in Vermont, unfortunately.

Do you ever buy beer?
Yeah, not as much. I call it “doing research.”

by Erik Zygmont

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