Learning to brew doesn’t have to be tedious, long or fraught with hurdles. Walk into one of Jason Beck’s Brew It Yourself classes at Workshop in San Francisco’s North of the Panhandle (NoPa) neighborhood, and one could mistake the class for a group of friends hanging out and drinking beer.
The two-session Brew It Yourself class equips’ participants with the basic understandings of what goes into brewing beer. Students are required to bring nothing, except a favored beer to share with the class during a pre-brewing bottle share.
During the first session, Beck leads the class through the fundamentals of brewing beer, likening the process to baking a cake.
“As brewers we really just make yeast food, and then yeast make beer for us,” said Beck. “I think it’s hard for a new brewer to understand the importance of the microbiological world in making beer, so I really try to get people thinking on that level.”
He builds on those fundamentals by cracking open various beers brought in by students, pouring everyone a small taste, and explaining how each beers’ ingredients differ from one another.
After the beer tasting, the class breaks into small groups and decides what beer they want to brew. Beck supplies the ingredients and gets each group started on brewing the beer they chose. In one class, a group made a clone of Pliny the Elder.
The second session brings everyone back to open up and taste the beer they brewed two weeks prior. At the end, each student walks away with eight 22 ounce bottles of their creations.
Beck has an extensive background in brewing. The ex-head brewer of Devil’s Canyon Brewing, Beck has a unique repertoire of one-of-a-kind beers, such as a roasted banana and donut bread pudding weizenbock, a Fleur de Sel caramel and chocolate Belgian quadruple and a Mala Hot Pot double IPA made with Sichuan peppercorns.
Beck started teaching Brew It Yourself in 2011 after he met Kelly Malone, an owner of Workshop.
“I had done some beer related teaching previously, doing corporate brewing events at the brewery I worked at, and teaching some graduate enrichment seminars at Stanford,” said Beck. “So, it was a good fit and good timing. I’ve taught them on average once a month since then, so I estimate I’ve taught about 400 people how to brew!”
Visit Workshop’s website for more information on Brew It Yourself and on the next available class.