To Brew or Not to Brew? Homebrewing at the Library

I have seen some examples of libraries doing programs on how to homebrew your own beer (or cider or mead, for that matter). And personally, I think it’s great!

Picture of beer brewing in a closet

40 Gallons of Homebrewed Goodness

I happen to know quite a few homebrewers and many others who have either dabbled in it or are considering learning to brew. In fact, for my birthday, my husband developed a recipe for a vanilla porter which he will forever have to make for me because it is my new favorite beer. But I digress…

I was thinking about how to logistically put on a homebrewing program in a library. I mean, there is flame involved. And boiling. And chilling. And at the end of the program, you are not going to have a beer that is ready for attendees to drink. So what are the options for doing this?

Quick Break-Down

  • Brew outside
  • Show and tell with equipment and ingredients
  • Bring samples (check local/state laws)
  • Schedule a break

Brew OutsideBurner and pot

If you are actually going to demonstrate how to brew during a program, I would recommend using an outdoor space. Using a burner like the one at right and a portable gas tank, there is less risk of a fire inside or of the pot boiling over and making quite a mess. This would therefore probably work best as a spring or early fall program so people do not freeze or burn while outside.

Beer ingredientsShow and Tell

Next, there will be some down time during the brewing process where there is not a lot of procedure to explain. At this point the brewer is just waiting for time to pass until the next step. Better fill that time explaining some differences in beers or about different ingredients or equipment you could use to brew (perhaps a show and tell). There will be some lecturing, but it won’t really feel like a lesson.

Bring Samples

If at all possible, depending on legal feasibility, etc., I would recommend the brewer bring a few different types of beers/ales/lagers for the attendees to try. For some people, they may not realize all the different types of beers that exist and just came to the program because it said “beer” on the sign. Having this opportunity to introduce them to new flavors they can make themselves may entice people to start brewing.

Schedule Breaks

From my experience with homebrewing, it could take a good 2-1/2 – 3 hours for the actual brewing process. You should probably schedule in a break so that people can get up and walk around, ask the brewer questions, and have some snacks.

Awesome Brewing Event to Benefit the Library

The Indian Valley Public Library in Telford, PA hosted a fundraising event called Brews for Books.  The event included a homebrew competition where event attendees voted on the beers to determine whose beer they liked best.  Other craft beers from around the country were served at the event as well.

All of the proceeds from this fundraiser went to the public library (awesome!).


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