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Old 04-11-2007, 07:52 PM   #1
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Default Teaching a Homebrew Class (community ed)

I have this interview coming up to pitch a homebrewing class to a director of adult/community education locally. The interest level is pretty high and I'm doing my best to illustrate how popular homebrewing is really becoming (and has become) by pulling some stats together like AHA membership, etc.

My goal is to teach a really high level class to get people who have no clue to the point where they can brew extract + steep kits with more comfort than most of us did on the first batch. I try to think back to my first batch and pick up on all those nuances that I could have improved upon if I only knew what I know now. The great thing about being so involved with folks around here is that it will enable me to not only present "MY" way of doing things but inform the class what other methods are used because the last thing I want to do is close off the progression of the hobby for them.

So, I'd like to get your feedback on the structure of the class. Try thinking back to your first batch and let me know if you think one aspect is missing or present but doesn't belong.

Day 1 -
Brief history of beer/ evolution of the modern brew (real readers digest level.)
Legality issues
Survey of class's favorite beers (with disclaimer that it is unlikely they will duplicate BMC after this class unless they really really really want to- wah wah wah)
Overview of the process/equipment/basic ingredients - what malting does to barley, how extracts really changed the accessibility of the hobby, hop types/bittering vs aroma, etc.

Day 2 -
Brew a batch. Sticking to grain steep, partial boil DME. I'll use a chiller to illustrate its use but explain that an ice batch will work as long as you stick with partial boils. I'm still a firm believer in rehydrating dry yeast (and using dry yeast in the while you're first learning to avoid making starters).

Day 3
(2 weeks later) bottling session. Batch size will ensure every student gets at least a 6-pack out of the deal.

If you attended this class yourself back in the day, would you appreciate being offered a beginner's equipment setup at the end of the class? I'm thinking of picking up at least 3 kits to make it easy on people who want to jump right in on their own.

Would you rather watch a batch or participate hands on?

Any other feedback would be appreciated.

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Old 04-11-2007, 07:54 PM   #2
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Hands on, by all means. I'm a technical instructor and learning by doing works great when teaching adults almost anything.

how long is each session? What kind of facilities will you have? What is your max class size? There are a bunch of other variables, but this has potential to be very good thread.


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Old 04-11-2007, 08:02 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EdWort
Hands on, by all means. I'm a technical instructor and learning by doing works great when teaching adults almost anything.

how long is each session? What kind of facilities will you have? What is your max class size? There are a bunch of other variables, but this has potential to be very good thread.
I agree with you. I do training as a part of my day job as well which is why I considered myself qualified to do this at all ;-)

I'm shooting for 2 hours for each of the 3 days. Certainly the brew day would need that much at minimum. I'll be using a hop schedule that will compensate for a 30-45 minute boil just to save time. If I have to run two 5 gallon batches based on class size, I'll stagger by 20 minutes or so in order to facilitate the critical steps for each group.

I'm shooting for a max size of 16 students. That's 10 gallons / 16 = 6 12oz bottles.

I believe the facility will be a firehouse kitchen. They use a church for other culinary classes but they think beer is not cool there.
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Old 04-11-2007, 08:12 PM   #4
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I would try to get your LHBS involved. You could maybe get 10% off first kit. Class ounds like alot of fun.

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Old 04-11-2007, 08:14 PM   #5
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That's the thing though, there are no home brew shops within a 40 miles radius of this area. Sounds like a business op huh?

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Old 04-11-2007, 09:13 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobby_M
Day 1 -
Brief history of beer/ evolution of the modern brew (real readers digest level.)
Legality issues
Survey of class's favorite beers (with disclaimer that it is unlikely they will duplicate BMC after this class unless they really really really want to- wah wah wah)
Sounds like a great undertaking Bobby.

To drive home the point about the changing beer-world, point out:
The difference in what's sold down the beer aisle at the store compared to 10 years ago.
AB's latest remodel of Michelob back to an all-malt beer to market to a more demanding audience.
Here is a great article about the influence that the homebrewer is having on larget breweries. click here
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Old 04-12-2007, 04:04 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobby_M
I believe the facility will be a firehouse kitchen. They use a church for other culinary classes but they think beer is not cool there.
A firehouse kitchen sounds cool, otherwise a Catholic church would be your best bet. A few bucks in the collection plate and tell the Father you'll leave him a case of good brew and I'd bet you'll be good to go.
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Old 04-12-2007, 04:28 AM   #8
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My only advice would be to try to spice up day one a little...two hours of someone talking about beer sounds awesome to us, but might put off some people who are on the fence. That's especially true if it's too technical. Keep it nice and simple, let there be plenty of hands-on stuff in the beginning. In fact, I'd sorta recommend doing it in one day--people will probably really just want to brew on the first day, plus you can give the lecture part while you wait for boils and stuff.

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Old 04-12-2007, 10:16 AM   #9
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If you have a few different brews bottled you could let them do some tasting (not enough to put them over the limit obviously!!). You could talk them through the mouthfeel, the malt, the hops the finish the head, what parts of the tounge sense what etc, like wine tasting appreciation only for beer.
If you can get them to taste the differences then that would certainly help them to understand the importance of brewing to your own tastes and not what BMC serve up.
Good luck with it.

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Old 04-12-2007, 10:23 AM   #10
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Bring a couple of primaries. Rack to secondary as you talk to them on day one. Also include the discussion of sanitation on day one. Then you have a practical demonstration there.

Also get some carb tabs. Siphon one bottle per student straight from primary. By the time they return to bottle their own beer, they will be able to RDWHAHB.

It'll be crappy beer, but at least it'll be something to drink. It'll also make things a little more hands on...

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