UCF students barrel into beer-brewing business
It seems you can't throw a stick in a bar without hitting a craft beer menu nowadays.
These "indie" beers are growing in popularity and can be found in plenty of familiar UCF hot spots like Lazy Moon or on the never-ending craft beer selection at World of Beer.
But instead of spending $4 on a fancy brew, a few select UCF students have brought the craft home.
But how exactly do you make your own beer?
According to John Palmer, author of How to Brew, it's actually as simple as 1-2-3.
"Beer production can be broken down into three main events," according to Palmer's website, howtobrew.com: "Brew Day, Fermentation and Bottling Day."
Shaun McDonough, a junior marketing major, uses basically the same process when he brews his hops.
"It takes at least four to five weeks," he said. "After the actual brew, the first step is to let it sit and ferment for 2 weeks."
After fermenting, McDonough then bottles the batch and lets it age for at least another two weeks.
For new brewers though, McDonough recommends a longer aging time.
"I opened a bottle after the first two weeks, and it definitely needed more time," he said.
After five weeks, McDonough's first batch, an amber ale made with extra hops, had that "perfect aroma" he was looking for.
Other UCF brewers have gotten really creative with their home-brew recipes.
David Dwyer, a senior business management major, made a pumpkin-flavored batch with his roommate around this time last year.
"There was a little bit of sediment that settled at the bottom of the bottle, so there was this little kick at the end," he said of that first batch. "When you started a bottle, you knew you were going to finish it."
Steven McCarty, a junior general business major, made a spruce beer with his brother that he said was his favorite batch so far.
"We used juniper berries. It came out with more of a gin flavor," he said.
McCarty started the UCF Home Brewers page on Facebook about a year ago, which currently lists six UCF students and alumni as members.
McCarty enjoys tasting the finished products of his craft brew creations.
Dwyer, however, likes to spread the flavor around, and likes to share so he can see what friends think of his batches.
The canned pumpkin he added to his fall recipe was well-received by those who tasted it.
Besides being fun, brewing his own beer helped him to really understand the importance of proper sanitation, the senior said.
Dwyer said that the biggest advantage of brewing your own beer is how cost-efficient the process is.
"The most expensive part is the initial start-up," he said.
He bought a basic home-brew kit, which had two buckets, a carboy and a siphon for a little less than $150.
Dwyer insists that the kit has been worth the investment.
For every five-gallon batch that Dwyer and his roommate brew, they spent about $20 to $30.
McDonough spends about $50 per batch for his recipe that uses malt extract, which lets him skip the actual fermenting of barley seeds.
However, he admits that the other way, known as "all-grain" brewing, would be even easier on his pockets.
"All-grain is maybe $25 to $35 a batch. That gets you 50 to 53 bottles, but there's more equipment involved," McDonough said.
Even McCarty, who brews once every other month, admits the cost per bottle is slightly cheaper.
However, he reminds us that for many students, craft beer is a legitimate passion.
"I brew because I really enjoy sampling what I've made. I want to turn it into a business," he said.