Feeling inspired to fill your own firkin? Homebrewing, which tends to attract a brainy, zealous following, is not only fairly straightforward and relatively inexpensive, but it’ll boost your street cred.
To get started, you’ll need a few essential elements: the basic equipment of kettles, siphons, and the like, a beginner-friendly premeasured ingredient kit, and a copy of The Complete Joy of Homebrewing (known colloquially as the Homebrew Bible), by Charlie Papazian, president of the American Homebrewers Association and Brewers Association. To gather the supplies, drive to one of the area’s friendly and well-stocked homebrew shops: Homebrew Headquarters (300 N. Coit Rd., Ste. 134, Richardson. 972-234-4411), American Firehouse Brewing Supply (2410 W. Park Row Dr., Arlington. 214-422-5929), or Fort Worth Homebrew (2824 S.E. Loop 820, Fort Worth. 817-568-4700). Brewing is nothing if not communal, so hook up with a local club like North Texas Homebrewers Association (Dallas), Knights of the Brown Bottle (Arlington), Cap and Hare Homebrew Club (Fort Worth), or Horsemen of the Hopocalypse (Fort Worth). Take all the free advice your comrades have to offer; their accumulated knowledge and boozy fables will help you sidestep many newbie blunders.
Finally, set your sights on competition at venues like the Bluebonnet Brew-off, the largest homebrew competition in the U.S., where teams with names like Bay Area Mashtronauts and High Plains Draughters showcase the best of their brews. Or start small by entering your beers in the Brew Riot in Bishop Arts, a street fair and juried tasting sponsored by Eno’s Pizza Tavern that draws hopheads from all over the region. Take your most outlandish brew and see how it measures up against the masses. First place earns you a spot on Eno’s Beer Wall Hall of Fame and the Golden Mug award (aka free beer for a year).