One of the most rewarding things for any beer lover is to successfully create your own homebrew. There’s just nothing quite like knowing that the beer you are drinking was created by you. Once you really get into homebrewing, you are able to use different ingredients or different brewing techniques to get new flavors. And who knows? You may even eventually get to start your own brewery.
But we’re going to back up here a bit, because you’re wondering how to get started. Well Mulberry MAX Liquor Store is here to help, as we have a full service homebrew shop right in our store that is stocked with everything you need to get started.
Follow these simple tips and you’ll be started on your first homebrew in no time!
Use a Starter Kit
While you can jump right in and assemble your own homebrew from scratch, for your first brew, it’s always a good idea to learn the ropes by purchasing a starter kit which has all of the essential ingredients to create a successful brew. While you will eventually learn to modify your brew and get your own flavor, it’s always a good idea to crawl before you walk, and walk before you run. Mulberry MAX Liquor Store has different starter ingredients and kits for you to pick up the trade right away.
Do Your Research
Yes, even if you are using a kit, nothing can replace a little bit of elbow grease in the research department. This means read a brewing book, read online articles and advice, watch YouTube videos, and do whatever it takes to make sure that you know what your process should look like before you even touch a carboy. If you do this, you’ll find that you will breeze right through the brewing process instead of fumbling around and guessing.
Plan for Cost
Homebrewing is NOT cheap. A lot of people think they just need a kit and they are off to the races. Well, slow your roll homebrew champion, because you may need equipment like kettles, carboys, siphon, hydrometer, bottles, buckets, caps, sanitization formula, and more. Plan on a larger initial cost of between $100 and $200 dollars to get up and running. The good news is that once you have the equipment, you only need ingredients for future batches!
Keep a Detailed Brew Log
One good reason for this is so that if you create a unique flavor that you like, you will be able to replicate it. A detailed brew log should not only include the ingredients used and a recipe for adding them, but should include temperatures at every step, and time for different steps. You can find examples of good brew logs online. Keeping a thorough log is a good habit to get into early, so when your process is refined, you are able to replicate your work.
One of the great joys of homebrewing is being able to share your creation with family and friends. Don’t be shy about your homebrew creations, and get feedback from others to hone your craft. You WILL create a skunky beer. You WILL create a great beer. All criticism is good when you are searching for that perfect flavor!
Stop in at the homebrew shop at Mulberry MAX Liquor Store to get everything you need to get started. Our staff is happy to help you find what you need and give you advice into creating your first home brew!
In part 1 we discussed all of the items that you need in order to host a wine tasting at your home that will be a smash hit. Many of these items you can obtain at the closest liquor store or specialty wine store. It just so happens that Mulberry MAX Liquor Store in Fort Collins has a certified sommelier on staff to help you put together everything you need for your wine tasting!
For part 2, we dive into the structure of the actual event to satisfy your guests and be a true wine tasting host! If you're new to tastings, here is the general structure:
1. Introduce the Wine
Once everyone has settled at the tasting table, take some time to introduce your theme. This gives everyone some context and helps focus the group's attention.
2. Sample #1
Start by introducing and pouring your first wine, then walk the group through the tasting process detailed below. Throughout the tasting, encourage everyone to take notes on their grids, and keep in mind that this is a fun, social occasion, so be sure to engage people in discussion about each wine.
Hold the glass at a 45-degree angle and examine the wine's color and intensity. Is it a deep red, a pale gold? Is the color saturated throughout, or does the wine look watery around the rim/edges?
Place the glass on the table and swirl it to release the wine's aromas, then bring the glass up to your nose and inhale. What does the smell remind you of? Berries? Tobacco? Chocolate? It may be helpful to close your eyes at this point to help focus your attention on what you smell.
Take a sip of wine and swish it around your mouth without swallowing. Try taking in some air to help release the aromas and flavors. Think about what flavors you taste as well as the wine's acidity and sweetness. Also consider the wine's body and texture: Is it light or heavy? Thick or thin?
Swallow the wine and think about its finish and aftertaste. Does the flavor linger (have a "long finish") or disappear quickly? Is the wine one-dimensional or more complex?
Do you like this wine? Try to identify exactly what you like or dislike, as that can help you identify wines you'll enjoy in the future. And, keep in mind that there are no right or wrong answers—it's all a matter of personal preference.
8. Samples #2 to #6
In between each sample, be sure everyone cleanses their palate.
For subsequent wines, you may want to once again lead the group through the formal tasting process—this can be especially helpful for beginner tasters.
9. Final Discussion
Once all the wines have been sampled, lead the group in a discussion about all wines (If you held a blind tasting, this is the time to reveal your bottles.) For fun, have everyone vote for his or her favorite and rank the wines in terms of preference.
While you might think of wine tastings as events that take place at four-star restaurants, you can easily prepare your own wine-tasting party with the help of your nearest liquor store in Fort Collins. Mulberry MAX has an on-staff Certified Sommelier to help you with everything you need.
The first step in planning a wine tasting party is determining the kind of event you want to host. The simplest and easiest option is a stand-alone tasting, which allows participants to focus exclusively on what they are drinking and not fill up on or get too distracted by food. You can also combine a tasting with a dinner, cocktail party, or other gathering. Another option is to serve a light dinner, then follow with a wine tasting. Or, invite everyone over for a tasting of dessert wines followed by cookies, cake, or a dessert of your choosing. Regardless of the style of party, the following guidelines will help you plan a stress-free tasting both you and your guests can enjoy.
When to Host a Wine-Tasting Party
As long as you match your wines to the weather—lighter wines in the summer, heavier varieties in winter—you can host a wine tasting any time of year. In terms of specific days, think about your guests and their drinking habits. Depending on the crowd, you may get more RSVPs for a tasting on a Friday or Saturday, when people can relax and not have to worry about going to work the next day. Keep in mind that if you're not serving food at your tasting, it's wise to pick a time when guests are unlikely to be hungry—just after lunch or dinner is ideal.
Providing a new glass for each wine removes the possibility that flavors from one wine might taint the flavors of the next, but it's not very practical. Using one glass throughout the tasting is fine—just be sure that tasters dump out any extra wine (and do a quick swirl-rinse with water) before moving to the next sample; keep a bucket nearby for dumping. And although different wines beg for different glasses, one basic wineglass works for most tastings. Use a glass that is perfectly clear (so you can see the wine), has a stem (so you don't warm the wine with your fingers), and has a bowl that's deep enough that you can swirl a little. Before the tasting, be sure to thoroughly wash and rinse all wineglasses, making sure there's no soap residue that could affect the tasting. Regardless of which wineglass approach you decide to use, your nearest liquor store in Fort Collins can give you assistance on where to find the proper wine glasses you need for your event.
Water pitcher and glasses
Cool water is essential for cleansing the palate between wines. Be sure each taster has a glass filled with ice water before the tasting starts, and set out a large pitcher for refills.
There are myriad options for corkscrews, but the best one is the one that works for you. Have a backup handy in case your regular one breaks—or you have a lot of wine to open and need an assistant. A foil cutter can also come in handy.
Bucket or large bowl
Arrange one or more buckets or large bowls in the tasting area where guests can pour extra wine. Also offer each guest their own small cup if they prefer not to swallow each wine.
Tasting grids, plus pens and pencils
A tasting grid is a chart that allows tasters to record their impressions of each sample. It's also a bit of a "cheat sheet." Tasting can be intimidating, but breaking the evaluation down into discrete elements and offering some descriptive terms can help get people started.
A "tasting menu" details the wines to be sampled. In addition to the name of each wine, its geographical origin, and vintage, include background information on the wine and where it can be purchased at your nearest liquor store in Fort Collins.
Picking a Theme
One of the most fun aspects of planning a wine tasting is deciding what kind of wine to sample. You might start by deciding if you want red, white, sparkling, or dessert wine. You can sample different wines from one region (Rioja, New Zealand, the Napa Valley, etc.), or taste the same varietal produced in different parts of the world (Cabernet Sauvignon grows in many regions). Regardless of your theme, your nearest liquor store in Fort Collins can help assist you in selecting the perfect bottles of wine for your chosen theme.
Also, think about your guests and how much they know about wine. If you're hosting a group of novice wine drinkers, a more basic tasting such as an introduction to one of the major red wine grapes works best. If your group is more experienced, try experimenting with lesser-known varietals or different vintages of the same wine. Also think about the season: Heavy reds are unlikely to draw crowds on a steamy August evening, but they would be perfect in February.
A Little Research Goes a Long Way
Several days before the tasting, spend time researching your wine and preparing notes so you can introduce the bottles to your guests. If you like, prepare some trivia or fun facts. This will make for a more interesting and educational tasting, as providing some context often helps tasters connect to and remember a wine.
Once you get the bottles home, store them on their side, away from direct light, and at cellar temperature (55°F). If your home is on the warm side, lower your thermostat or place the wine in the basement or on the floor of a dark closet where it's slightly cooler. Also try to keep the temperature consistent and store bottles away from vibration if possible.
Palate cleansers, along with plenty of cool water, keep your taste buds neutral and awake. Your nearest liquor store in Fort Collins will most likely recommend bland crackers or bread (a plain baguette, nothing grainy), which "act like sponges, absorbing any lingering flavors." Avoid anything flavored or overly salty—the point is to refresh the palate for each new wine.
Chill the Wine
In general, white wines are served at 45 to 50°F (10°C) and reds at 55 to 60°F (15°C). Be sure to chill whites (in the refrigerator or in ice) two to three hours in advance. Red wine can be served at room temperature, but if your house is particularly warm, you may want to put the bottle(s) in the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes or just until they are cool to the touch. Red wines should not be served cold, so be sure to take them out of the fridge about one hour prior to pouring.
Check out Part 2 for how to structure your wine tasting!
Everybody loves a good BBQ. Nothing is better on a cool summer evening in Colorado than having some friends over for food, drinks, and games. But not every BBQ is a success.
Check out these simple tips from Mulberry MAX to ensure that your BBQ turns into a great event for everyone!
Assortment of DrinksIt all starts with refreshments. Beer for the guys, wine for the gals, and cocktails for everyone. Having a large assortment of beverages might be the single most important part to hosting a sweet BBQ that your friends will tell their friends about. Make sure to head to the nearest liquor store in Fort Collins to pick up your local favorites.
One thing to remember though is that some of your friends may not drink alcohol or may prefer a specific type of drink. Make sure that you are able to host these friends as well, since you want everyone to have a good time.
Another good solution is to have everyone bring a six pack to share, or juice, soda, or other type of beverage. Not only will you have a large assortment, everyone should have something that they can enjoy!
Food RequirementsWe all know that when we grade out a BBQ, it’s usually the food that is under scrutiny. The grill master will be in charge of making sure that you have BBQ chicken, bratwurst, burgers, steaks, or kabobs cooked to perfection. Make sure you have side dishes like salad, macaroni salad, or fruit to accompany the main course.
But when it comes specifically to your guests, you should be aware of any special food requirements that they might have. Some may not prefer to eat meat, or can’t eat types of sugar or gluten. Similar to drinks, be aware of the specific needs of those that are attending your party to make sure that everybody is happy and not hungry!
Great MusicIt’s obvious that music makes for a great party and sets the mood to have a relaxed BBQ at your home. You can actually get pretty cheap portable speakers online that can connect wirelessly or via Bluetooth so that you can move the speaker to any room in the house, out on the patio, or in the yard.
For the sake of your guests, make sure to put on a playlist tha wont offend anyone. For example, if there are kids at your BBQ, it’s always a good idea to have a clean playlist ready for those who are underage.
Nothing completes a BBQ like having some entertainment for people. There are literally hundreds of different yard games to play that will keep your guests entertained while the food is being prepared.
Cornhole is perhaps one of the most popular games in Colorado, as well as Horseshoes, ladder ball, can jam, and washers. Most of these games are available online for a relatively low price, and will provide hours of entertainment for you and your friends, and they are great for kids and adults alike!
Mulberry MAX Liquor Store is committed to making your Fort Collins BBQ a success! Stop in to the store to pick up all of your favorite beer, wine, and spirits. Check out our current sales for specials on local Colorado breweries!
Fort Collins is one of the greatest places in all of Northern Colorado, and actually, the entire country. And one of the things that Fort Collins is best known for is the explosion of local craft breweries over the past few years.
We all know about New Belgium and Odell’s, but how much do you know about Horse & Dragon, Snowbank, or the Gilded Goat? How much do you know about Rally King, Black Bottle, and Funkwerks?
If you live in Fort Collins, you’re probably familiar with some of these names, but it can be very difficult to keep up with what each Fort Collins brewery has to offer. Every week, there are new local beers to experiment with, and if you’re not out there exploring, you’re likely to miss out on all of the great craft beers that Fort Collins has to offer.
So we’ve put together a couple tips to make sure that you stay on top of the local Fort Collins craft beer scene:
Go on a brewery tour. Even if you live here, and even if you have done it before.
Fort Collins has a ton of options when it comes to brewery tours. There are some tours that will take you to multiple breweries in a single day, and new breweries are being added to local tours all the time.
The most well-known tours are those at New Belgium and Odell’s. Even if you have done these tours before, it’s always fun to go through the tour again as the tour guide will usually key you in to what the company is currently working on, and you might even get to taste a sample of something exclusive that hasn’t hit shelves yet.
In addition, there are multiple local bus and limo companies that offer comprehensive tours of the breweries in town, and there’s really no better way to spend a Saturday than cruising around in a limousine with friends drinking beer all day!
Make it a point to visit a new local tap room each week.
There’s always something new to discover in Fort Collins, and when it comes to craft breweries, this has never been more true. The single best way to discover new local beers is to visit the source.
Fort Collins is home to over 20 small craft breweries, and most of them have a tasting room where you can go in, sit down, and see what unique brews that brewery has to offer. Often times, you will be able to order the brand’s most popular beer, but there will also be a selection of seasonal or limited beers that you would have never known about had you not gone into the tap room.
Grab a friend, a coworker, or a sibling and make a point to try a new place each week. After a few months, you will know who your favorite breweries are and which beers you like the best.
Ask the staff at your local liquor store if there is anything new from local breweries.
If you’re like most people, you walk in to a liquor store and see what is on special or what is in the beer cooler. Your mind rarely ever goes very far beyond what you see.
However, one of the best ways to learn about new local Fort Collins beers is to ask the staff at a Fort Collins liquor store. After all, these stores are constantly on the search for new beers themselves, and often times are in direct contact with local suppliers. This gives liquor store owners and staff members the inside track to what’s new in town, and what is yet to come.
At Mulberry MAX Liquor Store, we keep our ear to the ground with all local breweries and will be able to tell you which craft beers are selling well. All you have to do is ask!
Hopefully these tips are helpful to you as embark on your exploration or everything that the Fort Collins craft beer scene has to offer!
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Mulberry MAX Liquor Store
460 S College Ave g, Fort Collins, CO 80524
Editor: Mr. Max
We work, live, breathe and of course drink the beverage world. This is where we nerd out.