Sylvania neighbors brew up award-winning beer

by Sylvania AdVantage Staff

For beer connoisseur, Don Geldien, ordering the same brand of beer or buying the same six-pack over and over was just not enough. Five years ago he started thinking about how he could actually brew his own beer. But it was his neighbor, Jim Layman, that actually opened the tap, so to speak.
“He invited me to go along with him to Titgemeier’s Feed and Garden Store where I purchased a brewing kit, then he offered to help me brew it, using his equipment,” Geldien recalled.
Fast forward to today, and now about once a month Geldien and some of his neighbors gather in his Sylvania garage where they brew the flavor of that month. “It’s usually something a little different each time,” Geldien reported. “I like beer and I really like trying different beers,” he said.
In this short time, Geldien’s beers have won several medals in competitions for amateur brewers. One award winner is “Grandpa Takes Manhattan,” a beer that incorporates his wife Molly’s grandfather’s recipe for Manhattans. Another, “Razzavania,” is a beer featuring raspberries and incorporates the name Sylvania and Pennsylvania, where one of his brew helpers (and old Navy buddy) Noah Scharneck was visiting from.

“There is a story behind every one of Don’s beers,” noted a current brew helper and neighbor, Victor VanDeilen. Jeff Schalk, a former neighbor and a regular brewing partner, agreed, citing the name “Umple Dunkel” as the brew of Saturday, Aug. 21. “We are brewing a Munich Dunkel, but Don’s nephew used to call him ‘Umple,’ thus our new brew,” he laughed.
The trio started the brewing process at 8 am when they combined the ingredients into a 15 gallon and a second 11-gallon brew kettle. The water and grains are mashed and the correct temperature is maintained. After about an hour, the grains are removed and the liquid is brought to a boil. Hops are added at specific times during the boiling process to add bitterness, aroma, and flavor.
The mixture is cooled to the prescribed temperature for the yeast to be added. The yeast goes to work on the liquid, producing alcohol and carbon dioxide over the course of 10-14 days. After this, the beer can be force carbonated or naturally carbonated with sugar and then bottled. During the Aug. 21 brewing day, the trio also bottled a stout they had prepared the month before. Bottles are pre-sanitized. A beer gun attached to a CO2 tank and a keg filled with stout was inserted into the clean and sanitized bottle, first shooting CO2 to displace all of the air from the bottle, then the beer can be bottled.

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