Fermenting Happiness

May, 2017
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The artistry and ancestry of fermentation has such a long tradition among human civilization that it’s believed to be god’s gift to humans. It is said that the Roman god Bacchus (in Greek mythology ‘Dionysus’) traveled throughout the earth teaching the art of winemaking. It is also a steadfast belief that this god bestowed upon humans the gift to create life from death or good from the rot.  Without fermentation we wouldn’t have wine, beer, bread or cheese (just to name a few).  If Bacchus is the god of fermentation then Kyle DuPont is one of his disciples spreading the gospel of home brewing and other methods dealing with the ever so patient process of fermentation.

The Disciple

Kyle DuPont is the proprietor of Brewstock - a homebrew supply store where people can pick up supplies and ingredients to make their own alcoholic brew.  Brewstock supplies ingredients for an enthusiast who would like to make their own wine, cheese, sake or anything required for brewing or distilling. For the DIY enthusiast, this place is an oasis in the city for people who desire specific ingredients or just want to take up a new and ultimately delicious hobby.

The tradition of fermenting and brewing dates back to our earliest history and biomolecular archeologist Patrick McGovern, suggests that “We were born to drink—first milk, then fermented beverages. Our sensory organs attract us to them. As humans came out of Africa, they developed these from what they grew. In the Middle East, it was barley and wheat. In China, rice and sorghum. Alcohol is central to human culture and biology because we were probably drinking fermented beverages from the beginning. We’re set up to drink them.” (‘Why I Brew Ancient Beers’, National Geographic, Sep 2016)

This desire to drink fermented drinks is so strong that the prohibition era led to a resurgence in DIY home brewing.  Commercial alcoholic production was prohibited but home brewing for personal consumption was allowed and across the nation malt syrup and hops were as readily available at the grocery store as milk and bread. While the failed experiment of prohibition has long been dried and dusted, it is the era of artisanal home brewing that Brewstock nurtures and feeds. Justifiably, Mr. DuPont believes that he’s carrying on a tradition that dates back to when the city of New Orleans was considered the King of southern brewery with brands like Jax and Dixie beer.

Mr. DuPont points out that the original owner (Aaron Hyde) opened the business around 2009 and he worked for Mr. Hyde for 3 to 4 years before becoming the proprietor. In 2009, Mr. DuPont recalled that there was no homebrew store in the city post Hurricane Katrina but soon there was a resurgence of old brew masters resurfacing and passing their knowledge to those who had an interest in making craft and homebrew beer.  Currently, there are a number of micro breweries that are dotted around New Orleans and the metro area due in large part because of Brewstock’s existence and assistance.

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The Gospel - A supportive network

Apart from being a modern equivalent of a prohibition style malt syrup and hops store, Brewstock is also a meeting place for people who have been making their own brew and those who are just starting out. Since stores like these make it easy to acquire a number of hard to find ingredients, a host of homebrew clubs have popped up like the Crescent City Homebrewers (NOLA); Mystic Krewe of Brew (North Shore); Red Stick Brewmaster (Baton Rouge); Brasseur a la Maison (Baton Rouge) and Dead Yeast Society (Lafayette). All of these homebrew clubs get together with like minded people to try recipes (old and new) and discuss or pass along techniques that may be helpful in the brewing process.

Making homebrew can be a little intimidating but at Brewstock, Mr. Du Pont puts his customers at ease by answering any and all queries from his clientele. He enjoys guiding would-be- home brewers through the process and wants to make the experience accessible to a novice venturing into this unknown enclave.

For years, many have debated what came first, beer or bread?  A strong consensus in the scientific community suggests that beer was first. The method of home brewing is one of the ways that communities can come together to taste the fruits of their labor and to share a laugh or spin a tale with a fellow traveler while enjoying a nice cold one on a brisk evening under a vanilla sky. They say fermentation is a gift from Bacchus and Mr. DuPont is doing what he can to aid and abide in this mission - Cheers!

 

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