It was 1993 and I was in a not very awe-inspiring Microbiology class at Texas Tech University. I was never a very astute student and really just did what was needed to get by. Even more so when it was a class I was not interested in. However, one fall afternoon in my micro lab we began to study yeast. While yeast is interesting in its own right, what interested me most was what it does. It converts simple sugars to alcohol and CO2. Actually, it’s hard to imagine a world without yeast. If it were not for yeast we would not have beer or wine. Even making hard liquor would not be possible. Can you imagine? Man, weddings would suck! Imagine not being able to calm your nerves before a flight, have a drink to break the ice on a first date, or really doing any serious celebrating without alcohol. It is engrained in who we are as human beings. In fact, we have been making beer since the beginning of civilization. Historians and archeologists agree and disagree on one thing: civilization was either started to brew beer or because man started making beer.


So, while going over what yeast does in our lab and how it works, the professor said “I feel that the only way for you to truly understand yeast is to see it first hand in action. So we are going to brew beer!” My ears perked up and my eyes brightened. I thought that was very cool, as this was back in the 90’s during the first craft beer boom. Which was a blip in comparison to what we are experiencing in the current beer market. I was one of the few people that I knew of who really enjoyed craft beer. Most of my buddies were BMC drinkers and would scoff at my IPAs and the like. Which was ok with me, I never had to worry about them drinking my expensive craft beer on a college kid’s budget.


In that class, we went over how to brew beer in its simplest form. And keep in mind that homebrewing was still in its infancy in comparison of what it is today and we were supplied with our equipment for the experiment. That first equipment kit was very similar to Texas Brewing Inc’s Economy Kit. This kit comes without a secondary fermenter or a carboy. However, back then we had a racking cane and didn’t have the convenience of the auto-siphon and it came with a hydrometer and bottle capper. We were then supplied with an amber ale beer kit, similar to our Alamo Amber extract beer kit. However, the difference between then and now was that it was a pre-hopped extract. Meaning there were no hops to add during the boil. The kit also didn’t include any steeping grains. We simply went over the instructions and we started to brew the beer. I was instantly fascinated; the smell was incredible and intoxicating. I was hooked!


After brewing our extract beer kit, we proceeded to use bleach to sanitize our bucket and simply rinsed it out. This was typical practice before home brewers realized that bleach was a bad idea due to having to rinse it out and risking infection. But the main drawback was if the bleach was not rinsed out well, your beer would end up tasting like a swimming pool! Luckily, we have now have non-rinse sanitizers like Star San and Iodophor available to homebrewers. Finally, we ended our brew day by pitching our yeast. I believe we used a Muntons Gold dry yeast. Because back then, there was not a great selection of homebrewing yeast available either. Then, after about 2 weeks we bottled our beer.


While waiting, the anticipation was killing me and I really wanted to try the beer! It seemed to take forever before the 2 to 3 weeks went by for carbonation. But then the day I was longing for finally came. We got to taste our creation! So we all cracked open a cold bottle of the beer we made…and YUCK! It had to be the most vial thing I had ever tasted. So I started thinking, what happened? Is this what all homebrew tastes like? But I was assured by my professor that this was not the case. Actually, it had become infected. Thinking back and knowing what I know now, I couldn’t think of a worse place to brew a beer than a Microbiology lab. There were bugs growing literally everywhere in that lab just waiting to jump into our beer.


Even though my beer was terrible, it did not sway my newfound interest in making beer. So where did I go next? I went to a small homebrew store in Lubbock. It’s gone now and their selection was pretty limited, so I was relegated to making small extract batches.  Back then there was pretty much only Light and Dark Extract available. I didn’t have the luxury of really light Breiss Pilsen Liquid Malt extract or something as fancy as Briess Munich LME. So, after brewing a few batches of not so good beer, the guys at the homebrew store told me the only way to make better quality beer was to go to all grain brewing.


Let me tell you, all grain brewing was a challenge. I had to come up with the equipment, time, and patience to learn the craft. It was definitely not easy and resources were limited. This was all back when the Internet was news groups and hyperlinks and there was no YouTube or Google to instantly and easily get all the brewing information you need. I failed many, many times. But I also never gave up.


Fast forward 18+ years and I was tired of not being able to locally find all the ingredients to brew the beers that I wanted to brew. And I was tired of going to multiple homebrew suppliers to still not be able to get everything I wanted or needed. So, that’s why I started Stubby’s Texas Brewing Inc. When I started out I was still in the mindset of what I experienced back at Tech. You HAD to brew all grain beer in order to make great beer. But I also learned the great news: there was an unbelievable selection that was never available to me when I started brewing. And with the opening of the shop, I started teaching people how to brew with extract. It was my first extract brewing experience in almost 20 years. And wow, the beers were coming out great! How is that? Had I been doing things all wrong back when I was doing extract? Probably not, I think that it’s because now the extract is much better, there is more of a selection, and it’s a hell of a lot fresher. Plus, back in the day I would have never recommended dry yeast to ferment my beers. Why? Because we didn’t have the fantastic and quality dry yeast like Fermentis US-05 or S-04.


These things all led to me realize something important, I could now brew beer through extract brewing that was just as good as I could brew through all grain. And that it actually suits me better in most cases nowadays, just because of time constraints. Of course, I do still enjoy the satisfaction of going from grain to glass from time to time, but it’s something that I now have to plan for because it is often an all day affair. Whereas with an extract beer kit, I can spend a couple of hours to knock out a brew. So even now sometimes when I brew an all grain batch, I will knock out an extract batch while I’m mashing the all grain batch. Extract brewing lets me get a double batch in the same amount of time.


In conclusion, I realized that instead of excluding extract brewing, I can now include it in my arsenal of brewing tricks and techniques. So, if you haven’t brewed an extract beer or beer kit in a while, why not give it a shot and see for yourself how easy it is to enjoy a fast high quality brew in half the time! Don’t let your kegs run dry or your bottles go empty just because you don’t have all day to brew a beer from scratch!


-Brenden "Stubby" Stubblefield