Elmwood Park library homebrewing club uncaps fun, flavors

Garrett Gottschalk, librarian at Elmwood Park Public Library and organizer of the library's homebrewing club, looks over some of the equipment they'll use to brew their own recipe of beer. In the past they've followed other people's formulas. | David Pollard/Sun-Times Media
Garrett Gottschalk, librarian at Elmwood Park Public Library and organizer of the library's homebrewing club, looks over some of the equipment they'll use to brew their own recipe of beer. In the past they've followed other people's formulas. | David Pollard/Sun-Times Media

 

After years of following different kinds of beer recipes, members of Elmwood Park Public Library’s homebrewing club are branching out and trying their own formula.

Elmwood Park Librarian Garret Gottschalk, the club’s organizer, says he and five other club members have been meeting at the library for several years to talk about and make beer.

“We all come together and talk about brewing techniques, different types of beer ingredients and different types of brewing processes,” he said.

They do even more talking on their brewing day, when they make beer in the library’s small kitchen on the first floor. The brewing process takes about three hours, Gottschalk said, leaving plenty of time for socializing.

John Kaszynski, 58, started out brewing beer as a hobby and has been a member of the club for about a year. The group welcomes both experienced and newbie brewers, he said.

“It’s kind of like a social club,” Kaszynski said.

Once the brewing process is complete, the group will wait a little longer before having a drink.

“You then put in the yeast, and in three to four weeks, we’re ready to bottle it,” Gottschalk said.

In the past the club, followed different recipes, but this time they created their own.

“We came up with our own recipe from scratch,” he said. “It’s a honey wheat ale flavored with vanilla beans and lavender.”

Kaszynski said they haven’t made a bad batch in the past.

“Everything we’ve made has been really good,” he said.

The group will bottle their new batch on August 25 and only those who were involved in the brewing process can take beer home with them. Gottschalk said they are often able to make enough for each member to take a six-pack home.

Kaszynski said he usually tests his new beer creations out on friends. Gottschalk admits he enjoys a good beer, and if you can make it yourself, it cuts down on costs.

“You spend about $40 for a bunch of ingredients and you can brew two cases,” he said. “It’s like cooking.”

Although the club is small, Kaszynski encourages others to join. The club usually meets about once a month and talks about the previous brew they made.

“It’s a lot of fun, and a lot of great people are a part of it,” he said. “Hopefully more people will become involved. It’s open to everybody.”

For more information on Elmwood Park Public Library’s Homebrewing Club, call 708-395-1200.

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