The Auburn-Opelika area has countless restaurants and bars where customers can be found on gamedays drinking a beer with friends.
Everyone has their go-to bar and favorite drink, but for Miami-born Douglas Bendinger, finding his favorite beer comes closer to home.
Bendinger is part of the Auburn Brew Club in which about 20 members meet monthly to share recipes and give support to fellow home brewers.
“I moved to Atlanta and then eventually moved down here,” he said. “I met some other people who also home brewed. The club started in 1994, and I got involved with it in 1995.”
Bendinger started brewing his own beer in the mid ‘90s.
A person he dated at the time gave him a home-brewing kit for a Christmas gift.
“I moved to Texas in ’94 and still had it with me and thought, why not give it a try and see what it’s like,” Bendinger said. “I read all about it, tried it and really liked it.”
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Now, a crew of graduate students, professors, Auburn residents and retirees make up the Auburn Brew Club.
The only requirements to join are to be at least 21 and to have an eagerness to meet people while learning about the craft of home brewing.
“The dynamic of it keeps changing,” he said.
At meetings, members bring samples of what they have been brewing and let the others try.
They give feedback and plan challenges for the next meeting.
Their challenges can consist of creating a beer with certain qualities.
Right now, the group is preparing for a holiday-inspired challenge.
“We have a challenge coming up where we are supposed to create a beer that is dark in color and has holiday aspects to it, whether that is malty or sweet and has some of the holiday flavors like cinnamon, cardamom and clove,” he said. “We’re going to get together and brew the recipes at the end of the month and try the final products at the Christmas party.”
“You don’t have to have a PhD to brew good beer, anyone can do it,” Auburn Brew Club’s page on the Homebrewers Association website said.
Like Bendinger’s first experience with home brewing, beginners can purchase a home-brew kit that comes with all the necessary items.
“It can be as complicated or as simple as you want to make it,” he said.
The brewing process begins by choosing and finding the kind of grain. After crushing the grain, rinsing it and then adding oil and hops, yeast is added, and the waiting game begins. After roughly 10 days, the result is flat beer.
“From there, you put it into bottles, add a little more sugar and give it 10 more days, and it will carbonate in the bottle,” Bendinger said.
The process could take up to six hours, but it is all up to the home brewer to decide how complicated to make it.
Several members of the Auburn Brew club competed on home-brew alley in Auburn’s 2018 Oktoberfest. The event brings thousands of attendees to Auburn each year to enjoy German-inspired contests, live music, football on the big screen and, of course, local brews.
“I did participate in Oktoberfest, and two other members brought beer to showcase,” he said. “Other members came and helped pour beer and were there for moral support.”
Bendinger said he has met many interesting people along the way with his home-brewing experiences.
“They love to help you,” he said, adding that finding a home-brewing community is finding great friends.
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