On March 24, The Blanton will host a special beer tasting led by Sam Hovland of East End Wines, with delicious food pairings provided by Mat Clouser, executive chef at Swift’s Attic.( Learn more here: http://goo.gl/BvfUI ) Preparations for this event got us thinking about the phenomenal homebrew scene here in Austin, and Kimberly Theel, Director of Membership & Museum Services, sat down to talk with Corey Martin, one of the city’s leading home brewers, and winner of several prestigious beer awards…
Corey Martin has been a home brewer for 18 years and is the primary fermenter for the Austin Zealots Home Brewers club. He knows beer. Very well. Just last year Martin, who brews about three times a month, won the Sam Adam’s Longshot contest, a national competition of home brewers with about 1,000+ entries. The prize? His winning beer, a Munich Dunkel called “A Dark Night in Munich” is being produced and distributed nationally by Sam Adam’s in their variety six-pack (available at local retailers in February). Martin also recently won a home brewer’s only competition at Flix Brewhouse in Round Rock. His unfiltered Saison will be on tap there this month.
And Martin keeps good company. For the past two years, the Austin Zealots club has won the Lone Star Circuit, a series of brewing competitions throughout the state of Texas that awards points to the top three place winners in specific categories of beer. The club with the most cumulative points at the end of the year wins. It’s very competitive. And these are just a few of his and the Zealots accolades.
When Martin talks beer, he knows his stuff. Want to know more? Go to a beer club meeting – the Zealots have no membership dues or obligations, just a shared love of beer – and read here what he has to say about the home brew and craft beer scene in Austin.
KT: How would you describe the current home brew scene in Austin?CM: It’s really taken off in the past few years. Our club meetings have gone from 10-20 people on average, to 60-70 over the last four to five years. It seems like everybody knows somebody that home brews in the Austin area, which is great.
KT: Why do you think home brewing has become so popular? CM: A lot of it is the DIY attitude and also in part for the love of a quality beer. People enjoy beer that actually has flavor. And to be able to make it at home and to say to friends and family that you crafted this beer is a really great feeling. The brewing information that is available now to help you make good beer, compared to 10 years ago, is fantastic.
KT: How do you think the home brew scene relates to the craft beer scene in Austin? Where can you find these craft beers? CM: I would say it’s directly related. Most of the craft brewers I know all started off as home brewers with a dream of going pro. A lot of the extreme craft beers started out as a home brewer ideal and home brewers get inspiration from the craft brewers. I don’t believe one could exist without the other.As far as where to find these tasty craft brews, it’s amazing to go to your local HEB and find a good selection. And then there’s the specialty shops such as Whip In and Sunrise Mini Mart that have a huge selection, as well as Central Market, Whole Foods, and Spec’s. Many area restaurants have started putting craft beer on tap. If your favorite restaurant doesn’t carry your favorite craft beer, be sure to fill out a comment card asking for it.KT: Do you have any tips for people that want to start home brewing? How can they start? CM: If you want to get started, go to Austin Homebrew Supply. They have a very knowledgeable staff that will get you going in the right direction. Secondly, join a homebrew club. There are several here in the area. The Austin Zealots is the big one, then there’s the Round Rock Homebrewers Guild, the Texas Carboys in Cedar Park, and the Hill Country Brewer in Bee Cave. The interaction with fellow home brewers is the best way to advance your skills in the hobby, which for most turns into an obsession.
Photos by Andy Sharp