Community brewing gives you back your kitchen.
Interest in home brewing has never been greater. But what some hop heads don’t realize is that brewing your own beer is a serious process, and when the brewery is your kitchen or basement or closet or even—ick—bathroom,
you spend less time as master brewer and more time as master janitor.
Still, there’s a reason why so many amateur brewers go through the trouble: there’s nothing more rewarding than the first taste of a cold one you made yourself.
Now, say the process was more streamlined, and you didn’t have to worry about supplies, storage, or cleaning—then would you be up for it? Your answer should be: hell yes.
Hopster’s Brew & Boards, the area’s first communal brewery and eatery, will be your own personal hub to learn about the brewing process and concoct your own craft beer.
Simply schedule a brewing session, which ranges from $150 to $200 and includes everything you need from state-of-the-art equipment to 30 recipes created by their in-house brewmaster.
Recipes run the gamut from IPAs to Porters, and some have interesting twists like the Chili Pepper Spicy Stout. Owner and homebrewer, Lee Cooper, will help you choose a recipe (unless you forgo this option and bring your own), and then he will lead you to the well-stocked ingredients room.
Many of the ingredients—hops, wheat and soon barley—are grown locally at The Woods Family Farm in Dudley, MA and are organized in clear dispensers along the wall, clearly labeled and ready to steep. If that wasn’t enough, a hand-cranked mill is available to bust open grain for an uber fresh aroma.
It’s probably safe to say you don’t have one of those at home.
Something else that’s unique about Hopster’s community experience is the custom-made, one-of-a-kind brewing system. The newly opened space boasts 10 sexy copper kettles that hold seven gallons of beer, which means that one batch will get you a quarter keg or three cases of 12-ounce bottles. You can brew up to 30 cases of beer at one time, meaning you can outfit a special event like a wedding or birthday party.
Beyond the sheer size of the setup is the system itself, which aids in reducing the overall brewing time, all kettles are rigged with a slick water and heat system. Filtered water comes in at 155°F, so in mere minutes you’ll be ready to begin brewing. Steam jackets wrap each kettle and heat its components faster than you could shotgun a PBR. A steam valve allows you control over heat levels, and since each kettle has a thermometer built in, you have precise control over the temperature while preparing your wort. Should your suds boil over, Hopster’s staff is equipped with mops and will clean it up for you (be sure to thank them).
And this same system makes cooling your masterful new brew almost instantaneous—a welcomed alternative to standing your carboy in an ice-filled bathtub.
The brew time takes about two hours, so be prepared. While you can’t take a nap in between steps, you can nosh on an English-style ploughman’s board of cured meats and pâté locally sourced from New England Charcuterie in Waltham. An array of artisan cheeses and quality flatbreads also abound, and a selection of suds happy desserts, like beer and bacon cupcakes and Belgium ale cookies round out the menu. You can also sample some of the beer that has been made in-house, but full pours are currently unavailable until Hopster’s scores their liquor license.
Once you’re finished brewing, you leave your suds to ferment for two to three weeks.
While you don’t get the satisfaction of checking the specific gravity of your beer, you won’t need to worry about finding a place to store all seven gallons in your single bedroom apartment.
As soon as your craft brew is ready, you can return to Hopster’s and bottle it. And, best of all, they provide bottles, you don’t have to suffer through cleaning and scrubbing your own. If bottling still sounds like a pain in the ass, for a small fee they’ll take care of it for you, even deliver your finished product right to your door.
So, does community brewing sound like something you can handle?
Again, the correct answer: hell yes.
HOPSTERS BREW & BOARDS
292 CENTRE ST., NEWTON