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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, Sept. 15, 2014

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Learn to brew at home with UBrew.
Learn to brew at home with UBrew. (Photo: shutterstock.com)

Talking beer with UBrew

Since Milwaukee still is Brew City chances are that you or someone that you know wants to learn how to brew beer in the comfort of our your home.  There are classes around town and a start up called UBrew that offers hands-on homebrewing classes.

There are two upcoming UBrew classes: Saturday, July 19 at Braise and Thursday, Aug. 21 at a location to be announced.  But, before you go, take some some time to read my interview with UBrew co-founder Drew Stauffacher. 

OnMilwaukee.com:  What is UBrew?

Drew Stauffacher:  Our vision for UBrew is to grow the homebrewing market in "Brew City" through developing a space that allows for homebrewers to overcome the limitations and obstacles they face brewing at home and focus on the best part -- the beer. Down the road, we hope to create a facility that provides the space, equipment, and expertise for homebrewers, from beginners to experts alike. People new to brewing would be able to sign up for an initial homebrewing class that would walk them through the process while making their own first batch of beer to take home. Home brewers with more experience would be able to come in for advanced homebrewing assistance. Expert home brewers would be able to rent equipment and space to overcome the limitations they may face with their current process. The best part of all is the opportunity for developing connections with the many other home brewers in Milwaukee that would also be using the facility.

OMC:  What's the cost and commitment for the program?

DS:  We are currently offering beginner’s home brewing classes and are working on creating an all-grain homebrewing class. Prices ranges from $50 to $75 and commitment consists of a 3-4 hour period on the day of the class. Classes are currently held on Saturdays, but we are trying out weekdays as well. Check out our classes scheduled on July 19 and Aug. 21. 

OMC:  What's the biggest mistake home brewers make?

DS:  Sanitation. Sanitation. Sanitation. It’s definitely possible to homebrew at a certain scale in your home, but a lot of homebrewers get caught up by the detail of the process. Sanitation might sound like a small detail, but it could end up being what makes or breaks your batch.

OMC:  Are you a fruit beer guy? 

DS:  I don’t know if the UBrew team would agree to being called "fruit beer guys," but honestly we really enjoy trying anything. Personally, I love a couple Summer Shandys on a hot afternoon. It’s almost the definition of summer for me. And frankly, seasonal beer is how I know what time of year it is. Ciders can also be a great beverage on a nice warm summer day.

OMC:  What are you three favorite beers and why?

DS:  Pabst. Schlitz. Blatz. Next question. Kidding. Kind of.  Any hefeweizen. We've brewed a hefe at every class we've done so far and they have turned out great every time.  Others? Riverwest Stein, it's a classic and a Milwaukee staple.  And again, Pabst, Schlitz and Blatz. You have to respect the old school beers, especially the ones that made Milwaukee famous.

OMC:  What beer trends do you see coming?

DS:  A strong trend continues to show that people prefer regional/local craft beers over national/commercial beers. This is our preference also, which is how and why we got into homebrewing in the first place. Another trend we are seeing more and more in the Midwest, including in the Milwaukee area, is the idea of the "Growler Bar." People love the idea of going to a local facility, picking up a quality local beer, and enjoying leisurely at home. But at the end of the day, the biggest thing is the amount of people moving from the everyday beers, to more craft beers like the ones we see coming out of MKE Brewing and Lakefront Brewery.

OMC:  What innovations would you like to see in the brewing industry?

DS:  We would be interested in seeing technology play a bigger role in homebrewing to help with inefficiencies. We don’t know exactly what that will look like, yet.  That’s actually where we see UBrew in the future. Implementing and offering new techniques and technologies that will make homebrewing more efficient process-wise and logistically. We want UBrew to be the homebrewing destination in Milwaukee and the Midwest region.

OMC:  Finally, what's the most you've paid for a beer?  And, was it worth it?

DS:  Dragon's Milk normally goes for $10 at any local, Milwaukee bar.  And, it's totally worth it.

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