Group aims to boost Lake Tahoe beer scene |

Group aims to boost Lake Tahoe beer scene

Tom Lotshaw

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A group forming in South Lake Tahoe, “Beer Brewers Anonymous,” aims to spread the love of beer in the Lake Tahoe Basin and offer classes to help people start brewing or improving their own beers.

“There are lots of home brewers here, but we don’t know of anyone who has come together and done something like this, so we’re kicking off a class to get an idea of who’s interested,” organizer David Orr said.

To help form the group and offer classes, Tahoe Mountain Lab, South Lake Tahoe’s new co-working office space on Ski Run Boulevard, is partnering with experienced local home brewers and entrepreneurs, a couple of whom recently moved back to the Tahoe Basin and are working toward opening a craft brewery.

Orr and Jesse Walker are two of Tahoe Mountain Lab’s three founders and will be involved with the Beer Brewers Anonymous group.

Orr said he has made wine, but will be going to the classes to branch out and learn about the art and science of beer brewing, and to get a brew going. “It’s interesting, and quite frankly, I love beer. It’s something I’ve always wanted to get into,” he said.

A three-hour introductory course on July 18 will explore the brewing process from start to finish, complete with a round or two of beer. Additional classes will be held every few weeks and become increasingly advanced.

Organizers are partnering with people who supply the yeast, barley, hops and other ingredients and brewing tools needed to brew beer. Class participants will buy some equipment, start their brews and have regular brewing meetings to discuss their progress, share tips, and take field trips to visit and tour breweries around the state.

The class will culminate with a beer festival. “We’ll try all the beer people have made, have judges, and the winner will get a gift certificate for brewing supplies,” Orr said.

Aside from promoting the hobby of home brewing, Orr said he would like to see South Lake Tahoe develop more of a local craft brewing industry.

California has one of the nation’s largest craft brewing industries, with 312 breweries and craft breweries operating in the state in 2012. The industry employed more than 44,000 people and supported more than $1.7 billion in wages in 2012, according to the California Craft Brewers Association.

“We feel South Lake Tahoe has the right atmosphere and we would like to see sort of a small industry popping up,” Orr said about the craft brewing industry. “So that’s another goal, not only to get a community of people interested in the topic, but also to maybe spur some companies and see some growth in the economy.”

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