How to Get Started with Home Brewing

You’re standing in the beer aisle one day and one of two thoughts goes through your head. Either you decide store bought beer costs too much or there’s no beer on the shelf that completely satisfies you. So you decide you should get into home brewing, but aren’t sure where or exactly how to get started. I think I can offer you some pointers.

The first piece of advice I can give you is to get good advice. If your town has a home brew club, join up. Ask lots of brewing questions of the people around you. Your fellow brewers can tell you what shops to buy your supplies at. They can tell you what equipment you do or don’t need. Once that’s done, you’re ready to visit one of those home brew stores and pick up your supplies to start brewing.

When you go to the home brew store you’ll pick up some supplies to make your beer with. A few odds and ends aside, your homebrew equipment list should look something like this:

4 gallon pot
5-6.5 gallon glass carboy
5-10 gallon plastic bucket
fermentation airlock
rubber stoppers
bottle capper
plastic hose
bottle washer
bottle caps
5 dozen beer bottles (the kind you need a bottle opener to open up)
sanitizing agent.

Now, until you get into the swing of things I’m going to recommend using homebrew equipment kits. Basically, someone has got your beer started for you. They assembled the grains, extracted the sugars, added some hops. Then the wort was boiled down to a thick syrup, kind of like a big, beer flavored can of molasses. When you brew from one of these kits most of the work is done, making your job that much easier.

Brewing your first kit should be fairly easy if you follow some basic instructions. Start with the following ingredients:
5-6 lb can of beer kit, whatever style you want to make
1 pkg ale yeast
water for boiling

1) Bring 2 gallons water to the boil. Add the contents of your beer kit, stir to combine. Allow your beer to boil uncovered for 20-30 minutes. This will make sure your kit is well sanitized.

2) Sanitize the five gallon bucket. Remember, everything that touches your beer must be sanitized to prevent the beer from infection by beer spoiling organisms. Just follow the directions on the sanitizing agent you bought.

3) Add water to the bucket. Add 3 gallons ice water to the bucket to help cool the beer you have boiling on the stove. Place the bucket in a sink full of ice and add your wort. Place a sanitized thermometer in the bucket so you can monitor the beer’s temperature.

4) When the temperature drops to 75F add your yeast. This way the wort isn’t so hot to kill the yeast but still warm enough that your yeast will stay active and ferment your beer. Also, you want to draw off a sample of beer and measure it with your hydrometer. The hydrometer will tell you how much sugar you have in your beer. A reading later will tell you how much of that sugar got turned into alcohol.

5) Take another hydrometer reading 5 days later. This will tell you if your beer’s fully fermented. This is when you transfer your beer into the glass carboy. Let it sit there for a couple of weeks to let it clear up and mature a little.

6) Finally you’re ready to bottle and cap your beer. Sanitize 60 beer bottles and caps. Take a cup of dry malt extract and add it to 2 cups water. Mix, bring to a boil and let it cool. Stir the syrup in to your beer and transfer the beer into the big bucket. Fill the bottles with beer up to 2 iches from the top of the bottle. Cap the bottles and set them aside for two weeks. Residual yeast still living in your beer is going to eat the sugar and produce carbon dioxide. After a couple of weeks the carbon dioxide will dissolve into your beer and it will be carbonated and ready to drink.

Congratulations! You’ve just made beer. If you’ve followed these instructions and sanitized your equipment every step of the way, you Will have made a very drinkable product. And with the variety of beer kits on the market you can stay at this level of brewing for as long as you want. And when the day comes that you want to expand your horizons, the people at the home brew store have plenty of experience and reference books to help you on your way.

San Francisco Beer Bars You Have to Visit

As a beer enthusiast I tend to plan vacations around my love of craft brewed ales and lagers. To that end, when I research the cities I visit, I search out a supply of such beers. For me this means brewpubs, microbreweries, and beer bars. If I can throw in a beer festival as well, then so much the better. For these reasons when I decided to visit San Francisco for a beer festival, I checked the internet and found a wide array of bars and pubs to visit. What follows is, in my opinion, ten such establishments you have to visit on your next trip to San Francisco.

Normally Portland, Oregon is the American city with a rep for a great beer scene. After all, they have all those microbreweries and brew pubs, right? Yes, absolutely. As it turns out, though, San Francisco has its own love of beer.

Every year San Francisco hosts a huge, city wide beer festival. Spread across the city are a wide variety of beer bars, microbreweries and brewpubs. And don’t forget San Francisco was home to the first microbrewery years before they started springing up elsewhere in the country.

1. ANCHOR BREWING:1705 Mariposa St. (415) 863-8350
Anchor brewing can trace its history all the way back to the 1890s when it was operated by Ernst Baruth and Henry Koenke. Anchor Steam beer was one of the first beers they brewed when they were forced by San Francisco’s climate to brew their lager at warmer ale temperatures. Today, Anchor brewing makes a wide variety of ales and lagers including an American pale ale, a barley wine, and an annual Christmas beer. Twice daily tours of the brewery are available by reservation only and are often booked up to a month in advance.

2. 21ST AMENDMENT BREWERY: 563-2nd Street (415) 369-0900
On December 5th, 1933 the 21st amendment of the constitution ended prohibition. In 2000 Nico Freccia and Shaun O’Sullivan founded their brewery in San Francisco’s city center after meeting in a summer class on brewing science. Before prohibition, San Francisco boasted 40 breweries, most of which prohibition wiped out. Today, 21st Amendment produces 3 ales for sale by local vendors as well as 8 more on tap at their restaurant. The restaurant is open 7 days a week for lunch, dinner, Sunday brunch and offer special game day menus.

3. ROGUE ALES PUBLIC HOUSE: 673 Union Street (415) 362-7880
Since 1988, Rogue has moved up in the world in more ways than one. Rogue’s first location was in the basement of its first brew pub in Ashland, and at first they only offered two ales. Today, Rogue has eleven locations ranging from California to Washington offering almost three dozen ales and a half dozen distilled spirits. The San Francisco branch sits up the street from Washington Square Park, offering 40 taps and a pub menu featuring many kobe beef dishes. If you’re over the age of 21, try the happy meals.

4. THE MONK’S KETTLE: 3141 16TH Street (415) 865-9523
One of San Francisco’s newer bars, the Monk’s Kettle opened for business in 2007. This small, cozy little place is a hole in the wall in every sense of the word. The Monk’s Kettle offers 24 taps and more than a hundred bottled ales from California and around the world. The menu is pub inspired, but upscale with suggested beer pairings accompanying the dishes. The Monk’s Kettle may be slightly more spendy than your average pub, but between the menu and the beer list, it’s worth it.

5. LA TRAPPE CAFÉ: 800 Greenwich Street (415) 440-8727
Located in North Beach between Russian Hill and Telegraph Hill, La Trappe is a Belgian beer lover’s dream. Owner Mike Azzalini wanted his bar to resemble the brasseries and beer bars you might see in Belgium. It seems he’s hit the mark, creating a comfortable European inspired space, Belgian inspired menu and a beer list that tops out at over 200 ales and lagers from Belgium and around the world.

6. SAN FRANCISCO BREWING COMPANY: 155 Columbus Ave (415) 434-3344
Located at the intersections of San Francisco’s Chinatown, North Beach, and Financial District, this 1907 saloon is one of the last remnants of the Barbary coast. In operation since 1985, the SF brewing company was one of America’s first brew pubs. The brewery downstairs produces 1000 gallons of beer annually for the pub as well as select liquor stores and restaurants around town. While visiting the pub and enjoying the food and enjoying one of the dozen beers, ask about getting a tour of the brewery. You won’t be disappointed.

Obviously, I’m only skimming the surface here, and only barely at that. San Francisco has so many great bars and pubs it would be impossible to list them all here. If you’re looking for more of San Francisco’s bars and pubs go to or for more listings.

Top Microbreweries, Breweries and Brew Pubs in Oregon

Many people enjoy sampling the various beers that microbreweries, breweries and brew pubs offer. In fact, some people even like to plan their vacations around these important passions. It is not unusual to hear beer aficionados talking about which breweries they were lucky enough to visit and sample while on a vacation or weekend trip.

The specialty beer movement began in Oregon in the early 1980s and has become a signature of the state. Many breweries in the area have gained a well respected name for themselves in the beer industry.

Here is a list of some of the top microbreweries in Oregon. These are do not miss breweries and well worth planning you trip around.

1) Deschutes Brewery Tours and Tastings located at 901 SW Simpson Avenue, Bend, Oregon 97702

The Deschutes Brewery sits in the heart of beautiful and scenic Central Oregon which has long been a tourist haven for its excellent skiing and outdoor sports. While planning a trip to Bend, Oregon it’s always nice to include a tour of the famous brewery.

The Deschutes Brewery has a long history in the Bend area. In 1988 it first put down its roots as a brew pub in old historic downtown. Since those days it has won many awards for its craft beers and they are now sold up and down the western states. They even opened a new brew pub in Portland, Oregon.

Take a tour of this fascinating brewery. Tours take place Monday through Sunday. Their hours are 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. They do offer free samples. These tours are also fun for the entire family and very educational.

Their tasting room hours are Monday through Sunday from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.

2) Bridgeport Brewing Co located in Portland, Oregon

This is one of the premier specialty beers of the area. It produces over a 100,000 barrels a year and is sold in eighteen states.

Their brewpub is a do not miss spot on any trip that you might plan to Portland, Oregon. It is located at
1313 NW Marshall Street, Portland, OR 97209. They have absolutely fantastic food and wonderful beer.

3) Full Sail Brewing Company 506 Columbia Street, Portland, Oregon

This brewing company first opened its doors in 1987. It sits overlooking the lovely Columbia River where windsurfers come from around the world to try the rough waters of the massive river. This is how they came by the name for their brewery, “Full Sail.”

This company takes great pride in crafting its beer by hand in a manual powered brew house and their water comes from a spring on Mt. Hood. Its the perfect combination for a perfect brew. They offer daily tours of their brewery free of charge at 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. Their tasting room and pub are open daily starting at 11:30 a.m. for lunch and dinner.

4) Silver Moon Brewing Company located 24 NW Greenwood Ave, Bend, Oregon 97701

This is small microbrewery located in beautiful Central Oregon. It is well worth a visit to their pub to sample some of their beers and have a lunch or dinner. They are open from noon-11 p.m. daily. They also have live music in the evenings.

5) Widmer Brothers Brewing Company 929 N. Russell St., Portland, OR 97227

Widmer Brothers Brewery was founded by two brothers back in1984. They offer tours of their brewery every Friday and Saturday. Fridays the tour is at 3 p.m. and on Saturdays the tours are at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Advanced reservations are required.

This is only a small list of the top five breweries to visit and tour in Oregon. The affiliation with beer has been long in this state and there are many more interesting stops that a true fan will want to incorporate into any planned trip.

Best Microbreweries and Beer Pubs in Seattle, Washington

Seattle is one of the top five best cities for beers and microbrews, and for a good reason. Around nearly every corner in Seattle, you’ll see a brewery or a pub packed with people relaxing after work and drinking beer. Although Seattle isn’t lacking in great beer and brew pubs, these are the top breweries that stand out in my mind (in no particular order):

Top 5 Seattle Beer Pubs:

1. Redhook Brewery:
14300 NE 145th St.; Woodinville , WA 98072

Redhook Brewery is located just 30 minutes from Seattle and is home to the famous Redhook line of beers, sold in grocery stores across the country. Redhook Brewery offers tours several times a day for only $1 a person, which takes you through their brewery and lets you sample four different kinds of beer. You even get to keep the tasting glass!

2. Fremont Brewery
3409 Woodland Park Ave N ; Seattle , WA 98103
Fremont Brewery has a selection of seven microbrews on tap, all of which are brewed in house. In addition, there is an “Urban Beer Garden,” where you can order from a constantly changing selection of specialty beers that can only be found at the brewery. Growlers, kegs, and souvenir items are also available for sale at this brewery.

3. Elysian Brewig Co.
1221 E Pike St .; Seattle , WA 98122
542 1st Ave S ; Seattle , WA 98101 (“Elysian Fields”)
2106 N 55th St .; Seattle , WA 98103

Elysian Brewing Company has three locations in Seattle: the original brewpub in Capitol Hill, a second location in Wallingford, and Elysian Fields in Pioneer Square. The location in Capitol Hill is currently the main production facility and hosts beer events throughout the year. All three locations allow you to choose from a selection of over ten specialty house beers, in addition to a rotating menu that includes seasonal ales. Join them during happy hour for food specials and $1 off a pint of beer.

4. Naked City Taphouse
8564 Greenwood Ave N ; Seattle , WA 98103
Unlike most other breweries, Naked City Taphouse offers a range of beers that include rotating selections from other local breweries. Choose from a list of over twenty beers, five of which are brewed in house. Visit during happy hour for $1 off beers, or visit on the weekends and get an entire growler filled with beer for only $9!

5. Mac & Jacks Brewing Company
17825 NE 65th St., Ste B110 ; Redmond , WA 98052
If you live in Seattle and you love beer, chances are very good that you’ve tried Mac & Jacks. However, this is a production facility and does not have a pub or restaurant integrated with it. You can visit on Sundays at 3pm for a guided tour of the brewery, or you can bring your own growlers to get them filled with fresh Mac & Jacks microbrew any day of the week.

Top Five Brew Pubs in Eugene, Oregon

I have a friend who moved to Eugene, Oregon from Nebraska – by way of Southern California. She says the biggest change she’s noticed in herself is the taste she’s developed for micro brews and her intolerance for any beers she can see through. Eugene has its share of quaint and bustling brew pubs – cozy establishments where you can meet some friends for burgers and a plate of nachos and sample some delicious locally-brewed suds on tap.

One of the better known brew pubs in Eugene is Steelhead Brewing Company ( at 199 E. 5th Street – across from the 5th Street Market. Featuring fresh beer bubbling away in large shiny tanks you can see from the restaurant, Steelhead serves up award winning micro brews with a full menu. There is a good-size bar serving “spirits” as well. Seating is both indoors and a covered outdoor area – complete with heaters during cooler weather. This is a restaurant taken over on “game day” when the Oregon Ducks are playing, but a fine place to meet for the business lunch or the cool pint after work.

For a funkier experience – and not exactly a brew pub, but a Eugene restaurant with a fine changing selection of Northwest micro brews on tap – try the Cornucopia at 295 West 17th. ( This is an eating establishment tucked into a neighborhood in what used to be a corner market and it has a cozy neighborhood feel to it. Extremely casual, don’t expect stellar service and do expect to shoulder your way up to the tiny bar to request a refill on your pint, but it is a great place to while away a rainy afternoon sipping good beer. The menu features lunch and dinner and there are daily specials scrawled on a signboard at the curb. Seating is both indoors and an outdoor garden enclosure where there is the occasional live musical performance.

Located in an old craftsman-style house with lots of dark wood and a porch/garden seating area, the High Street Brewery and Café is a McMenamin’s Restaurant ( centrally located between the University of Oregon and downtown Eugene. The address is 1243 High Street and there is both street parking and parking in back of the establishment. The High Street Brewery boasts a menu with weekly food specials and adequately tasty “pub food,” but it is the original micro brews that make it worth the trip. A customer favorite is the cool “Ruby” ale, made from fresh, masticated raspberries. This pub collects an eclectic crowd of students and regulars and is extremely casual.

One of the newer pubs on the block (although it has been operating under various proprietors/names for the past decade or so) is the Rogue River Brewing Company, also known by its former name: Eugene City Brewing at 844 Olive Street. This brew pub is right downtown and within walking distance of the Hult Center, public library and other downtown activities. With 34 taps, this restaurant has a real Northwest feel to it and promotes a real micro-brew culture. There is a full menu and information about this and other Rogue ale houses is available at

Finally, although also not an official brewing house, a new establishment that’s getting some good press is the Beer Stein Bottleshop & Pub ( located at 345 E. 11th in what used to be a fresh pasta shop. With a few tables and a limited menu of grilled sandwiches and appetizer plates, this is truly the place to come for the beer. There is an extensive bottle collection (bottles of beer from all over the world) and rotating beers available on tap. This place can get pretty busy and there is a discount for purchasing bottles to take home. But, if you’re in the mood to sample and experience a pub vibe with other beer-lovers, this is a good place to go.

If you’re new to Eugene or an old native, you have no excuse – get out and enjoy some of the flavors of our local brew pubs!