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Last week, Fort Worth Weekly announced its first annual Homebrew Throwdown. Today, I’m revealing the competition’s location and time. The judging event and daylong craft beer party will be held at the Panther Island Pavilion Shack on November 15. Thanks to everyone who has already registered for this event. You can find out more check out last week’s On Tap in Fort Worth.

With the announcement of the Weekly’s Homebrew Throwdown it is fitting that this week’s topic be about homebrewing. Last Monday, I visited Stubby’s Texas Brewing owner Brendon “Stubby” Stubblefield and employee Greg Etzel at their store near Airport Freeway. The homebrew equipment business has been open since 2011 and is the culmination of a decades-long love affair Stubblefield has had with homebrewing. Just weeks earlier, Stubblefield finished a massive renovation that has more than doubled the store’s size. They needed the room. Orders from out-of-state are on the rise, and several new local breweries are using supplies from his store regularly.

With only four years under its belt, Stubby’s Texas Brewing has already amassed an impressive list of former clients. Brewers from 903 Brewers, Martin House Brewing Company, Rabbit Hole Brewing, and Noble Rey Brewing Company all got advice or an early start at homebrewing by working with Stubblefield and Etzel.

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The appeal of homebrewing for most folks is threefold, Stubblefield said.

“First and foremost, it’s the best beer in the world,” he said without mincing words. “For me as a homebrewer, I can afford to make beer for the art of it. I’m not looking at the bottom line like big companies are. I’m brewing for the taste of it. Second thing, I can allow my beer to properly age. The third thing is that I can brew beer that’s best for me, because I can make it to suit my own taste.”

When first-time customers visit, Stubblefield starts with a simple question.

“I ask them what they like to drink,” he said. “Hopefully, they don’t say Corona or Coors Light,” he added with a laugh.

From there he walks the homebrew newbies through all of their options, explaining the difference between a plastic and glass carboy, and which upgrades could save them time and headache.

“We want you to brew the best beer you can,” he said. “Because if you don’t brew good beer you’re not going to come back.”

Stubblefield showed me their malt room, which was stacked to the ceiling with dozens of plastic bins, each methodically identified by type and labeled with a flag to denote nation of origin. Near the back of the store, shoebox-sized containers held starter kits in every beer style imaginable. One box read, “Rahr Winter Warmer,” caught my attention. Yes, you can make this Rahr classic at home — if you know what you’re doing.

Surprisingly, that craft beer duo said the recent surge in breweries and craft beer pubs around Fort Worth hasn’t yet translated to a surge in homebrewing interest.

Etzel said many new fans of craft beer are visiting large breweries, and they may not realize that you don’t have to have tons of equipment to make beers similar to what Rahr or Martin House are brewing.

That’s why Stubblefield and his staff have made education a central part of the store. Weekly three-hour courses on homebrewing are offered every Sunday. A weekly podcast series also supplements the course. Stubblefield brings in local brewers for weekly chats (“edutainment” as he calls it) about brewing and how to troubleshoot common problems. Most of all, the podcast is meant to be entertaining and fun, because brewing beer shouldn’t be intimidating.

“Brewing is so simple,” Stubblefield said. “It really is. You don’t want someone to fail the first time. You want them to win. You want them to be amazed.”

If you’re a craft beer enthusiast and you’re not homebrewing, you’re missing part of the experience, Etzel said. Homebrewing is a deeply eye-opening and personal journey.

“Everyone has a craft beer journey,” he said. “When you homebrew you realize what you really like. You turn to qualities like balance and profile.”

Sometimes that journey can be from lager to sours and back again. Whatever part of that homebrewing journey you are on, Stubblefield and Etzel want to make sure you’ll be proud of the results.

Stubby’s Texas Brewing Inc.
5200 Airport Freeway, Suite B
Fort Worth, TX 76117

On Tap This Week:

Bearded Eel Craft Brewery is in bottles now. You can catch Bearded Eel’s STOUT, Bee Funky (sour mash farmhouse ale), and Wizart Status (double rye double IPA) at any store on this map. If you haven’t heard of this fine craft beer brewery then read-up on my recent profile of them.

On tap for next week is an announcement of yet another Fort Worth Weekly beer competition. (I know, we’ve been busy lately.) Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a homebrewer to enter this one. The Weekly is collaborating with The Collective Brewing Project for an instagram competition. We’ve got some cool prizes planned for this one too. Don’t miss the details next week on our blog.

Oh, and please follow On Tap in Fort Worth on Facebook.

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