Erik Schmid, 45, is the owner and operator of The Brewmeister, which offers ingredients and how-to instructions for homebrewers and winemakers. His stores are in Folsom, Roseville and West Sacramento.
Q: How did you get interested in homebrewing?
A: When I was a teenager, my father used to make beer at home. (After he stopped) the ingredients just sort of sat in the garage. I started brewing on my own during college and just continued on.
I was laid off shortly after 9/11. A friend who was a brewer at the Sacramento Brewing Company convinced me to go through classes with the American Brewers Guild.
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I used to shop at The Brewmeister in Folsom. (In 2005), the owners were looking to move on to something else. I ended up striking a deal for the shop, and the rest is history.
Q: What equipment does a total novice need to get started with homebrewing?
A: You need a stainless steel pot, 3 to 5 gallons, and some food-grade buckets. … You can get started in your kitchen.
Q: What’s the process like?
A: You’re boiling water with malt, then adding hops to it, boiling it for about an hour, then cooling it down. You’re going to put yeast into it, and the yeast is going through and (fermenting) the sugar. That’s basically where the alcohol is created.
The initial brewing part takes two to five hours. It’ll ferment for about two weeks and then you’ll carbonate it (by adding more sugar, then letting it sit another two weeks). So you’re looking at about a month total.
Q: What does advanced homebrewing entail?
A: There’s more equipment involved. (As a beginner), you use extract batches. … They’ve taken the malt and made a syrup out of it. With the (advanced) equipment, you can actually extract the malt sugars from the malt. A lot of these advanced brewers are building their own custom setups in their garage.
Q: Given the craft beer craze, have you seen increased interest in homebrewing?
A: I don’t think it’s gone nuts like it did four or five years ago, but it’s still growing. In the past, people would homebrew because the variety (of beer) that was out there wasn’t so great. But now there’s an abundance of beer and breweries.
Q: What’s the appeal of homebrewing?
A: It’s like cooking. There’s guys (who) like to barbecue or cook. It’s just a fun hobby.
Sacramento has farm to fork. … Homebrewing fits right into that, especially if you can grow some of your own ingredients. A lot of people in the region grow their own hops. And there’s a coolness factor if you’ve got your own tap, your own beer, in your garage when your buddies come over.
Q: You do some winemaking, too, right?
A: Yes. The wine thing is where a lot of the growth is going to come from. Wine just seems a little more daunting – there’s more mystery, a little more romance. I think making wine is easier than (brewing) beer. It just takes longer, years, for wine to develop. I think a lot of people shy away from it, because they think the amount of time is somehow an indication of complexity. It’s not; it just takes time.
Julia Calagiovanni: (916) 321-1136
Owner of The Brewmeister
Oversees three Sacramento-area stores offering classes, ingredients, supplies and demonstrations for at-home beer and wine makers.