By Matthew Goodman | email@example.com
The increasing popularity of home brewing and craft beer has reached St. Augustine.
Founded nearly 18 months ago by Mike O’Bier, the St. Augustine Home Brewers Club meets once a month at the Mile Marker Brewery. The club is one of more than 1,500 home brewing clubs in the country.
The Home Brewers Association estimated that there were over 1 million people making their own beer in the United States in 2012.
Tony Simpson and Kenny Grover took over the club after being the two most recurring attendees for the majority of the meetings. They are 28 year old stay-at-home dads, friends, and home brewing partners.
The two have been brewing together for a little over a year. “I like beer,” Simpson says. “More specifically I like good beer.”
Simpson says that home brewers can make five gallons of craft beer for about the price of a case of domestic beers. The equipment to start brewing costs about 80 dollars.
“It’s a science project and it makes you drunk,” Simpson says.
Simpson and Grover brew right on their own driveways. It is legal to homebrew in every state except Alabama. Some states have restrictions “left over from the prohibition era,” according to Grover.
At the club meetings, some members bring samples of what they have been brewing. Everyone tries the finished product and offers their thoughts.
Luke Kellcher, 34, brought his second ever attempt at brewing to the most recent meeting on October 23rd. “The first batch was an epic disaster,” Kellcher says. “This is batch 1.5.”
The group was impressed with the quality of the six percent alcohol per volume pumpkin beer.
Many of the guys attributed their technique to learning from YouTube. Simpson and Grover also praised John Palmer’s book, “How to Brew”. “It’s kind of like a home brewer’s bible,” Grover says.
Kevin Torregrosa works locally at the Alligator Farm. The 29 year old originally comes from Palm Coast. There, he believes that, “Craft beer isn’t too big yet.”
Kellcher is originally from North Carolina. He has been into craft beer for 8 years. “I think it’s becoming huge,” he says. “You can brew anything; beer, wine, cider.”
Cyclehard Paul is the oldest member of the group. The 57 year old brought a dark beer that received praise from his fellow club members.
Simpson says they come up with some of the recipes on their own and others online. Sometimes the beer doesn’t turn out the way they want but Simpson remains positive about it.
“You can’t make a bad beer,” he says. “You just haven’t found the guy who likes it yet.”
Linda Johnson was the only woman in attendance. She is the director of brand development for Mile Marker Brewing. She has been helping the club out with her skills in public relations.
Also helping the club out is Simpson’s wife. The Flagler graduate helped create business cards for the club and is getting more involved with helping in the future.
When asked what the wives usually say about the men’s brewing hobby, Simpson said, “Wives usually tell us, ‘Are you done yet?'” The wives have gotten involved in the past. Last year the club hosted a Valentine’s Day Wife’s Brew competition.
Simpson was formerly as security guard but now focuses on staying home with his one-year-old son.
Grover is studying programming at St. John’s River State College. He may develop a website for the club in the future.
Simpson says they are “more than willing to make it more organized” should the group expand. Right now the club is content with their casual meeting.