Just take water and add hops, yeast, malted barley


August 10, 1994|By PAT BRODOWSKI

The recipe is 6,000 years old. Water, hops, yeast and malted barley brew into one of man's oldest beverages: beer.

Does beer predate recorded history? I'll wager a foaming draft that many men drank beer before one of them learned to write about it.

Beer reportedly quenched the thirst of the great ancient civilizations. Egyptians, Babylonians, Chinese, Greeks and Romans all enjoyed home brew. The church taught beer-making in the Middle Ages, when every monastery had its own brewery.

In America, William Penn and George Washington brewed their own, taking up the tradition of Europe, where family beer-making founded the great beers that are made today.

Brewing your own has a niche in Carroll County. Stop by Ye Old Zymurgy Shop at the Pennsylvania Dutch Farmer's Market Thursday through Saturday, and you'll meet Hayes C. Larkins of Hampstead.

He stocks everything needed to get a home brewery under way, and throws in plenty of beer-making expertise for free.

"A lot of people are surprised how good the product is," says Mr. Larkins. "It's like when you make a bread and it turns out real well. You're proud of it.

"Some people say, 'That tastes like real beer.' In most cases, it TC tastes better than commercial beer because [we use] pure ingredients," he said. "A list of the additives American brewers use in beer would take about three pages.

"What you have in home brew is the closest thing to German beer, because you're only using these ingredients: water, hops, yeast and malted barley," says Mr. Larkins. The use of those four items has governed the best German beer-making for more than 400 years.

Home beer-makers can savor the flavor of fellow beermeisters at a beer-tasting party Aug. 24.

"Home brewers will bring bottles in to introduce them to the group and tell what type of beer [it is] and how they went about making it, and answer questions about it," Mr. Larkins says.

Each beer-maker will bring three bottles to give a small tasting sample. Because of laws regarding liquor consumption, the tasting will be held at a small Westminster restaurant at 6:30 p.m.

If you want to participate, register with Mr. Larkins.

Every beer will most likely have it's own characteristics. Commercial breweries depend upon tasty impurities in the water, or a slightly different yeast cultured to continue the flavor batch after batch. Likewise, home brew is affected by ingredients, by recipes and by the skill of the brewer.

After 14 batches of different home brews, Mr. Larkins hasn't begun to select his favorite recipe from the 20,000 beers made throughout the world. Some use malt or barley extract. Lager is held in refrigerated storage the way German monks once held the brew in mountain caves.

"The one unforgiving rule to brewing beer is to ensure you don't contaminate it. Any [tool] in contact with the brew must have been either bleached or cleansed. There are all sorts of spores traveling around in the air," Mr. Larkins says.

He says he has found "a surprising number of home beer-makers" since opening Ye Old Zymurgy Shop.

Regulars include a professor, several police officers, a nature center director and those who know others who enjoy the hobby.

Mr. Larkins recently retired after 25 years as a criminal justice professor at Baltimore City Community College and at the Institute of Criminal Justice and Criminology in College Park.

Brewing kits cost about $175 for equipment and ingredients. After that, the only cost involved is for ingredients for each batch. A typical 5-gallon batch yields two cases of 12-ounce bottles.

"Right now, people who enjoy microbrews at $21 per case can brew a comparable product for $10 a case or skimp on the ingredients to make it at $7.50 per case," says Mr. Larkins. "They are not going to compete, but they'll have a product they'll enjoy more. Microbreweries are turning out a better [beer] than the commercial breweries.

"People with home breweries say you'll never taste a better beer."

For information and to register for the beer tasting, call Mr. Larkins at 239-8807.


Get ready for the last firemen's carnival of the summer. The Hampstead Volunteer Fire Company will have its annual carnival Monday through Aug. 20 on the fire company grounds at 1341 N. Main St., Hampstead.

There is a shuttle bus service from the North Carroll High School parking lot. The school is at 3801 Hampstead-Mexico Road.

The carnival parade begins at 7 p.m. Aug. 17.

Information: 374-2424.


Bingo fans, plan to be sleepless in September. The next all-night bingo will be held Sept. 9 at the Hampstead Fire Hall, 1341 N. Main St.

Tickets are on sale at the firehouse every Tuesday and Thursday from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. You can also reserve seats by telephone.

Information: 374-2424.

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