SHERIDAN — There is a certain amount of satisfaction that comes from creating something unique with your own two hands and the art of homebrewing beer has given an increasing number of crafters a way to share their talents in recent years.
A growing national trend, homebrew supply stores can now be found in cities across the country and crafting kits from European nations with a deeper history of the hobby have made their way into American homes as beer drinkers take to the kettle to create their perfect brew.
In Sheridan, Seth Orr made the hobby a career when he became brewmaster and owner at Luminous Brewhouse after getting his start brewing at home.
Now, a small group of devoted homebrewers who formed a club the first of this year have received their nonprofit status from the federal and state governments. The Big Horn Brew Club hopes to continue growing their membership, their contributions to the community and the art of brewing beer.
Founder and President Denny Gresham said the club started after he moved to Sheridan from Colorado and was hoping to do something fun in his new hometown.
Gresham had done a little homebrewing before and upon relocating made a friends who shared the interest.
Two short years later and the group has 15 members and meets monthly to share recipes, host tastings and demonstrations and support each other as they experiment with recipes and homemade brewing equipment.
The mission of the Big Horn Brew Club is “to celebrate the evolving traditions of authentic beer by sharing our knowledge, honing our skills and fostering a strong, local community devoted to the creation, promotion and appreciation of home and craft brewed beer.”
“We’re very new so we haven’t gotten a lot of events out there but we want to put on events and raise money for local organizations,” Gresham said. “We’re going to be working with the Dog and Cat Shelter soon, and we’re hoping to work with other groups. Right now we’re trying to gain members and we’re hoping to do some Third Thursday events to do some public outreach.”
Gresham said homebrewing is very easy to learn and the current members are ready to support and educate newcomers to the hobby.
Homebrewing kits for the beginner can be purchased for under $100, but the opportunities to grow are endless and include growing your own grains, buying or building a mill to crush them and using a mash process for a truly homemade beverage beyond the grain extract bottles that get you started.
Gresham said the coolers, kettles and burners needed for this process can reach $200 in cost, but club member Clay Stoner noted that even much of the brewing equipment itself is homemade.
“The majority of it is homemade because you can buy it, but its expensive, and it’s fun to make your own equipment,” he said. “We really are a support group so if people have questions or are trying to make something new we can figure it out together.”
Gresham said the best part of homebrewing is after creating something truly unique from scratch, you can share your creations at family barbecues and friendly get-togethers.
In fact, that is how he met his wife.
Megan (Kendrick) Gresham grew up in Sheridan and though she had not tried homebrewing before, after attending a friend’s barbecue a couple years ago her life took a different direction and she is now a skilled crafter.
“He brought some home brews and I brought some cookies,” she said of the party, “and then we started doing some brews together.”
The couple was married in June and now she has branched out to some of her own creations.
“I have two brews going right now, I have a wild sage saison and I just did a sessionable white IPA,” Megan Gresham said. “It’s a floral IPA and I’m hoping for a tropical, fruit, hop aroma.”
Other than sharing your beer, Stoner says the personal learning process is one of the best parts.
“The best part of your first batch is you don’t know what to expect because everything is kind of new when you’re first brewing,” Stoner said. “The first time you have a run away fermentation that boils the top off your pot… that’s what you have to look forward to. It’s the unexpected stuff that is exciting.”
Stoner started brewing with his dad eight years ago and said he started the hobby back up due to the freedom it offers.
“You can make seasonal beer without a season. You can make any style you want and its always fresh,” he said. “If you can’t find what you’re craving, you can just make it.”
The club has many events in the works including competing in the upcoming Brewfest in Buffalo and also hosting an internal competition for members.
Anyone interested in learning more or attending the August club meeting can reach the group via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.