woman pouring beer

A beer-making class aimed at women will be Saturday, May 2, in Davenport. The event is one of many celebrating Big Brew day, an observance promoted by the American Homebrewers Association that is held annually on the first Saturday of May.

If you're a woman who'd like to try making your own brew but have felt slightly intimidated by classes dominated by men, you should know about a Quad-City group of "powder keggers."

Karen Schaar of Davenport has been home-brewing for about 10 years, and from 12:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 2, she will share what she has learned in beer-making classes just for women at her home, 2807 Davenport Ave.

And from 1-4 p.m. Sunday, May 3, she and Mary Smith of Somethings Brewn in Galesburg, Ill., will teach wine-making at the Front Street Brewery location in the Freight House, downtown Davenport.

All events are free.

Schaar is a member of the coed River's Edge Fermentation Society, but she thought classes "aimed at women, taught by a woman, would create a more welcoming atmosphere," she said.

"I think women are kind of under-served in brewing," she added.

There are parties in which women get together to paint a picture or paint a wine glass, for example, but Schaar wants women to know that in about the same amount of time they can actually "make what goes into the glass."

The beer-making will be set up in her garage and patio.

Over the course of about seven hours, she will make four different kinds of beer, including a batch from a kit and another called "brew in a bag" that she describes as a "simple, no-bones" approach to brewing.

Each class will take just less than two hours, beginning with an explanation, then the brewing itself and then time for questions. The first step of beer-making is combining water with malt, hops and yeast.

For more information on what kinds of beer will be made at what time, she encourages people to visit the The Powder Kegger's Facebook page that was begun in 2009 by a group of Des Moines-area women that is open to any woman brewer in the Midwest. Or call Schaar at 563-326-9113.

As for the wine-making, Schaar and Smith each will teach a class. Schaar's will be from a kit in which a concentrated grape juice is combined with water, yeast, clarifiers and stabilizers. In case of inclement weather, the class will move to the basement of the Front Street location on River Drive.

The classes are two of many celebrations of Big Brew Day during which the American Homebrewers Association encourages its members nationwide to host events that share craft beer — and wine and mead — with the public.

It's always the first Saturday of May.

According to the group's website, brewersassociation.org, there are more than 1.2 million home brewers in the United States.

With one in every 200 adults in the U.S. now crafting their own beer, home brewing has become one of the country’s fastest-growing hobbies, the website says.

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