If you love craft beer and have ever thought about trying your hand at homebrewing, there has never been a better place or time to get started than right here and now. There are great local DIY courses and other resources to help you brew your first batch and Beer West Magazine awarded San Francisco the title of "Best Beer City" this year in large part because of the "distinct energy surrounding the craft beer scene and the cohesive way it’s represented throughout the city.” Simply put: people here have beer skills.
Homebrewers typically start out brewing with what are called “extract kits” and using them to start a batch of beer takes less time and talent than starting a batch of soup. You can also save a lot of money by brewing with extract kits. Case in point: Australia based Coopers Brewery exports their bottled beer here which retails for about $12 per six pack. Coopers also exports 16 different types of malt extract kits, any of which will make six gallons of beer for about $20, or about $2 a six pack. You basically mix the can of malt syrup with hot water, add the yeast when the liquid cools, and bottle your beer a week later. Just about every beer style is now available as a kit and, of course, if you want to dive deeper into the craft, you can buy hops and grain and brew beer from scratch.
Here are some key local homebrew resources:
- SF Brewcraft – This is the place to get started. Griz and his crew have been providing local homebrewers with equipment, ingredients, and wisdom since 1978. Their web site includes starter kits, home brew procedures, beer recipes, and tips. They’ve also been known to field phone calls from brewers who have a question while in the middle of a batch. Call between noon and 2 pm to reserve a seat in their free Monday evening homebrew classes.
- SF Home Brew Club – This meetup group hosts events related to homebrewing. Members can also receive a discount on orders from SF Brewcraft.
- Oak Barrel Winecraft – The Berkeley bastion of homebrew. Knowledgeable staff here can help get you started.
- Bay Area Mashers – East Bay homebrew group meets at the Linden Street Brewery in Oakland.
- Workshop SF – This DIY place has a variety of classes, including a couple of hands-on beer brewing courses for beginners.
- Pacific Brewing Laboratories – Patrick Horn and Bryan Hermannson host semi-regular brewing events. Sometimes more fun than informative; it’s still a great knowledgeable group and they provide plenty of creative and delicious samples to spark your interest in what’s possible to brew.
- The Brewing Network – Local multimedia site includes Beer Radio, an internet station broadcasting homebrewing and other beer-related podcasts and videos to the planet.