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Beer in the ‘bier: the tale of the ale-brewing Acland

Beer in the ‘bier: the tale of the ale-brewing Acland

By Julie France

If you walk into the apartment of Noah Dow ’13, Ryan Liegner ’13 and Herb Page ’13, you will not find their fridge stocked with cans of Keystone Light, but rather bottles of unlabeled beers produced using their own craftsmanship.

“The idea to start brewing probably started with the fact that we all like drinking beer,” Dow said. Last summer started their experimentation with home brew.

“When I started brewing this summer, I just kind of did it on a whim and didn’t do it very well,” Dow said. “I think whenever we describe brewing it’s simple, but there’s still a lot of nuance to it. … As we’ve done it more and more, we’ve got a much better feel, just a much smoother process.”

The boys purchased a wine kit in August. The jump to an American wheat beer soon after was an easy one.

From then on, Dow, Liegner and Page bought their supplies online through Northern Brewer, a homebrew supply chain located in Missouri.

“Unfortunately, we don’t pick barley from the backyard,” Page said.

If that were true, the trio would have to have picked enough barley to produce the 600 bottles they have made so far. This total, however, does not include only bottles of beer, the collegiate classic.

“We’ve brewed about ten different kinds of alcoholic beverages so far, including English brown ale, St. Paul porter, cider, Bavarian Hefeweizen, honey wine and White House honey ale,” Liegner said.

Each kit ranges from $20 to $35 and produces anywhere from 40 to 45 bottles.

“Though we come out ahead, financially, it really doesn’t work that way because we probably just drink more since it’s always available to us,” Page said.

Dow, Liegner and Page are hoping that their success will inspire other students to be part of the brewing culture.

“A brewer’s club for students 21 and over might be out of the question, but having a loose association would go towards making it a fun community,” Page said.

The guys have had people contact them about making this a reality.

“We’ve had some people come over who are interested in starting up, and they are doing some now, I believe,” Dow said.

Page confirmed that this is something the group encourages: “We’re always open to having people come over and see how it works, either to help, watch or try with us.”

Dow, Liegner and Page are not the first Kenyon students to dabble in the art of fermentation.

Liegner said, “There are some students who did it last year. Owen Bitas ’12 and Robert Yees ’12 run a blog now about brewing and beers in general.

“It’s called the Beer Connection. … There’s also beer lab, which is an independent study in the chemistry department.”

Liegner himself is a participant in the beer lab independent study, which has aided Liegner, Dow and Page in the details of the brewing processes.

“The actual chemical equation is alcohol plus carbon dioxide equals sugar. Yet, in brewing, we do it backwards so that we start off with sugar, which the yeast consumes and creates carbon dioxide, and then we are left with alcohol,” Page said.

“We’ve had two bottles explode, which I guess is not a bad track record for how much we’ve made,” Dow said.

“The worst, though, is when on brewing day it boils over. There is supposed to be a ムhot break’ when brewing and it foams, but sometimes it spills over the pot,” Page said.

“Whenever we heat up the stove it smells really bad because hops are down in the stove from boiling over,” Liegner said.

Even with all of this experience, brewing will remain a leisure activity for the group.

Page said, “We don’t plan on selling the beer because we would need a liquor license to do that.”

“I think one of our goals is to come up with a unique beer recipe because it is much easier to play around with mead and wine recipes,” Liegner said.

Though they are graduating in May, Dow, Liegner and Page hope to continue their affinity for brewing as a hobby.

“This summer I plan on contacting a Kenyon alum who is a professional brewer,” Page said.

“To work for a brewery would just be the perfect summer job,” Dow said.

Though Dow, Liegner and Page have learned almost all the tricks of the trade to help them with brewing in the future, there is one difficulty of brewing that always remains.

“More than anything, it’s a lesson in patience,” Page said.

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