Libertyville business offers Beer School 101
Greg Browne gives a cup of barley to the Beer School 101 class at Mickey Finn's Brewery to sample and pass around. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 8, 2012 6:05PM
LIBERTYVILLE — If he could, brewmaster Greg Browne would buy yeast a beer.
“Life would be very boring without yeast,” Browne said. “Yeast is in beer. Yeast is in wine. Yeast is in bread. Without yeast, we would have a very boring existence.”
Browne shared his love of yeast and other beer-making steps with patrons and staff of Mickey Finn’s Brewery in Libertyville. Saturday’s Beer School 101 provided class members insights into the brewing process, as well as a chance to sample a few different ales and gain a better understanding of what they were tasting,
The brewmaster noted that it is actually yeast that makes beer. Through fermentation, which takes weeks to occur, yeast converts the glucose in wort — the liquid extracted in the mashing process — to alcohol and carbon dioxide. It takes yeast four or five days to do its job.
A brewmaster then will bring the temperature down in the fermentation tank and let the ingredients brew for several weeks. Lagers brew for four to six weeks. Ales are brewed for three or four weeks.
Browne said he loves this time of year as Oktoberfest brews are concocted. He said for anyone who has been to Oktoberfest in Munich, the ale is a lighter color. Oktoberfest beers are made darker purposely because people expect a darker, more robust beer when they hear the name “Oktoberfest.”
He said big beer producers line up their yeast specifically for them and have different vendors around the world producing their yeast for them. He noted that they want to ensure that if something happens to their yeast in one part of the world, they still will have options.
“You can’t make Budweiser with Miller yeast, and you can’t make Coors with Bud yeast,” Browne said.
Browne said the class was important, especially for bar employees, to be knowledgeable about products for customers.
“It is important if a customer is interested in a certain beer that our servers can answer questions about that beer,” Browne said.
Sam Reuter, a nine-year employee of Mickey Finn’s, agreed.
Dave Turnbaugh, a longtime patron of Mickey Finn’s and a member of the establishment’s Mug Club, said he appreciated gaining insights from Browne.
“It was interesting to learn more about brewing,”the Libertyville resident said.