Brewing at home with Justin Merrell.

Brewing time is family time for Justin Merrell.
Yakima native and CWU senior, Justin Merrell has been making his own beer for 2 years.  He finds it an excellent way to promote family bonding.
How it all started
A tall and lanky man of 25, with long brown hair and a weeks worth of stubble, sits across the table in his Ellensburg Apartment.  He’s wearing a teal t-shirt with navy blue gym shorts and no shoes.  Justin Merrell, who was born and raised in West Valley, located in Yakima, Wash., has only been brewing beer at home for 2 years; but during this time, developed an abiding love for the process. “For the most part it was a family thing,” said Merrell.  “My brother John was the first to become interested, and slowly pulled more of us in.”  Merrell first became involved himself during Easter of 2012.  Along with his father Raymond, a urologist in Yakima, and older brothers Greg and John, Merrell brewed his first batch of beer; which, they entitled “Easter Ale”, an IPA.
Learning about the process
“My brother John gave me a book called The Brewmaster’s Bible,” said Merrell.  This book, by Stephen Snyder, details exactly what one needs to do to brew beer at home.  This, supplemented by internet research, helped Merrell and his family learn what exactly to do. Of course, there was some trial and error in this process.  “We made some beers that were pretty bad frankly,” said Merrell.
What to expect when you brew beer at home
“Well, the brewing process actually only takes 2 to 3 hours,” said Merrel, “but the fermenting process can take week or longer.”  Merrell also said that the most expensive aspect of the process is the initial investment in equipment.  However, “You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars,” Merrell said.  In home brewing you can improvise quite a bit apparently; Merrell’s family uses a old beer keg with the top sawed off to brew the malt, yeast, and hops.  The fermentation process is done in an airtight container known as a “carboy”.  The amount of time this requires depends on the alcohol content desired: more time for more alcohol.  Merrell said that most of these things can be purchased at your local hardware store.
Why brew beer?
“For us, it was mostly an excuse to spend time together as a family,” said Merrell.  Another motivating factor factor is, “50% of home-brewing is standing around drinking beer,” said Merrell.

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