Frank's Home Brew demonstrates 18th century brewing

Patriot photo by Roxanne Richardson
Frank McMahon demonstrating the 18th century way of making beer at the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center's German Fescht in Kutztown.
Patriot photo by Roxanne Richardson Frank McMahon demonstrating the 18th century way of making beer at the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center's German Fescht in Kutztown.

Frank McMahon of Frank’s Home Brew in Kutztown demonstrates how beer was made in the 18th century.

He has demonstrated the old way of beer making at the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center’s Harvest Fescht. He also teaches the art of home brew and provides the supplies.

“My goal is to make it as user-friendly as possible for new home brewers and also to serve as a convenience store for anyone that’s close by and they broke a hydrometer or something like that and they can come in here and replace it,” he said.

McMahon also wants to have enough variety of specialty grains and adjuncts for the more advanced home brewer. He keeps a small supply of fresh brew on hand so the hobbyist could taste the difference.

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He filled a cup with a beginner’s brew of an all-extract beer. Cold and deep gold in color, it had a flavor layered with sweetness like molasses and the bitterness of hops. The hops are the primary spice that’s added to beer to give it the flavoring. There was a depth in the home brew.

McMahon explained different processes in beer making and even how the barley is roasted can make a difference in the appearance and taste.

After Christmas, McMahon will be offering an all-grain brewing workshop. According to McMahon, this is a process most breweries use. The process takes half of a day as compared to one hour if using grain that was already commercially processed into a ready-to-use extract.

“What a lot of brewers do to kind of get the best of both worlds, is do an all-malt extract beer, but then they’ll add some specialty grains to it,” said McMahon.

They’ll start with a base malt to produce a light amber beer, but then add dark black patent malted barley to it to get it darker. McMahon said this could be turned into a stout. As for specialty flavorings, he’ll add them after the boil.

“The malted barley syrup has sort of like a sweet flavor and the hops are added to give it kind of a bitterness and kind of make the flavor more complex and interesting,” he said.

McMahon has been making beer since 2001 when his uncle game him a beer making kit. Now, his store sells beer and wine making kits.

He plans on doing a free beginner’s beer making demonstration Dec. 22 at 4 p.m. There will be home brew samples to try. He is planning workshops after Christmas for all-grain brews and even a gluten free workshop.

He is planning his next wine making demonstration in January.

Frank’s Home Brew is located at 158 West Main St., Kutztown. For more information, visit http://frankshomebrew.com/.