Sarah Gaynor (@gaynordesigns), our contest winner for “free classes for a year” will be documenting her nitty gritty class experience with us for the next twelve months – here’s the first of her many Dabble classes! 

I love drinking beer, and I love drinking different kinds of beer. But I know very little about how it’s made. Terms like “malty” and “hoppy” generally don’t mean much to me on a beer menu.  And to be honest, two of my friends make their own beer, so I figured if they could do it, so can I. 

So Saturday afternoon I drove down to Back of the Yards to learn the finer points of brewing.  The class is held at the New Chicago Brewery, an old meat packing plant that’s being transformed into a closed ecosystem. Basically all the waste created will go into powering the brewery as well as growing microgreens and vegetables inside the building. Our teacher Paul is a history teacher by day and home brewer by night. His teaching background makes him the perfect instructor, especially for something as complicated as brewing.

Oh yes, brewing is complicated. As a generally disorganized person, the amount of care it takes to brew beer is astounding. You have to watch the temperature, check the quality of your ingredients, take gravity readings and sterilize everything.  I mean sterilize everything, unless you like undrinkable beer then don’t worry about it. Within the first hour I realized I will never do this at home, and had a newfound respect for my beer-brewing friends. Paul, like any good high school teacher, made us helpful handouts with not only important information but also places we can buy equipment and ingredients. 

Despite the fact that I will never do this at home, this was a well-done class perfect for people interested in brewing at home, or those already making beer at home looking for helpful tips. I did take the time to make myself a beer label for my imaginary home brews. 

– Sarah Gaynor, @gaynordesigns