Father-Son Homebrewing Classes, Vey Cool!

Beer enthusiasts attend home brewing class in Millcreek.

Jim Kohler breathed in the aroma. So did his son, Max. They looked at each other, nodded their heads and smiled.
The smell of home brewing on a Saturday morning made these Millcreek Township beer enthusiasts very happy.
“Some fathers and sons go fishing, some go to football games. We brew beer,” Jim Kohler, 69, said about himself and his 35-year-old son. The two began home brewing in January.
The Kohlers paid $10 each to take part in a home-brewing class inside Bierhaus International, 3723 W. 12th St., in Millcreek.
Saturday’s four-hour session was attended by 17 people, and was taught by Albion native Jason Lavery, who began home brewing in 2004 before opening Lavery Brewing Co. in Erie in 2010.
Lavery’s demonstration produced a hoppy 5-gallon batch of Australian India pale ale. His students for the day, ranging in age from their 20s to their 60s, stood in the front of Bierhaus’ warehouse, surrounded by Pyrex glassware and stainless steel vats of boiling water.
Some participants used their cell phones to shoot photographs or jot down notes, documenting the process.
“Having someone of Jason’s caliber here to teach beer making is great,” said Dave Skonieczka, owner of Bierhaus. He said the home-brewing class would be offered again later this year.
The federal government legalized home brewing in 1978. The hobby gained tremendous interest in the 1980s before people lost interest in the 1990s, Skonieczka said. Home brewing began to rebound, he said, a few years ago.
“When the economy went in the toilet, and more people found themselves not working and home a lot, they got into the hobby of making beer,” Skonieczka said during Saturday’s class.
Lavery, 30, has taught eight home-brewing classes at Bierhaus over the past four to five years.
He said the hobby has become popular in the region.
“People in general are interested in things that are more local and craft-oriented,” Lavery said during his demonstration. “Whether it’s cider mills, bakeries, wine. Beer is a great hobby, and a desired necessity.”
Matt Mead came to Saturday’s class to “pick up a few pointers.”
The 35-year-old Erie man has been home brewing beer for a little more than a year.
“I found out that adding gypsum to the water helps bring out different flavors,” Mead said. “It’s a good class, very hands-on. If I get really good at home brewing, maybe I could go pro like Jason. But that’s a long way away.”

Max Kohler, left, of Millcreek and Doug Wright, center, of Girard, look into a container of unfermented beer, known as wort, while Gary Faulkner, right, also of Girard, measures wort during a class of 17 homebrewing enthusiasts at Bierhaus International in Millcreek Township on March 24. The class was taught by local brewer Jason Lavery of Lavery Brewing, who teaches such classes once or twice a year. Bierhaus International is run by Dave Skonieczka of Erie.


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