|The Cellar door 109 N. Main St.|
Malt truly is the first thing you notice about the place. That wonderful smell is coming from the bags of grain stacked on carts and the rows of grain buckets shelved along the length of the store. “I stock 60 different types of grain,” Dave says. It’s not just a pound of this and a pound of that, either. He’s got it in bulk and his prices might be the best of any homebrew shop in Wisconsin. He says, “I try to make it as affordable as I can.”
The other thing you’ll soon notice about The Cellar is the owner’s enthusiasm for what he’s doing. “There’s nothing I enjoy more than teaching people to brew beer," Dave says. "It’s not just brewing, but the philosophy of brewing, as well.” You can see that in the way he deals with his customers. When I was there last Saturday I saw him working with a couple new brewers. One looked to be in his mid-20s, the other was pushing 70. Each came in with simple questions and each walked away knowing a whole lot more about beer and brewing than when he’d walked in. Later on Dave said, “I guess if you're a beer lover then we can talk all day long.”
He’s got plenty to talk about. Dave has had his hand in just about every aspect of the beer trade. He’s been a bar owner, worked for a liquor distributor and is a graduate of the Siebel Institute’s Diploma Course in Brewing. But he first fell in love with good beer during a backpacking trip through Europe. There he drank Czech Lagers and English Ales and in Amsterdam had a Belgian Whit that sealed his fate. When he got back home he immediately started brewing. His initial brews were, if nothing else, memorable. “The first two batches were terrible,” he says. The third was even more interesting. He smashed a carboy and had an exploding fermentation “but it ended up tasting awesome!” As so often happens, he was hooked.
Dave got into the homebrewing business in 1997 when he opened Valley Homebrew Supply, Fond du Lac’s first store for homebrewers. The store went under when the business it was attached to closed its doors. So what does a homebrewer do when he loses his job and winds up with a load of grain he can’t sell? He starts brewing, of course. Within six months he had brewed a hundred gallons of beer. He brewed everything - Lagers, Belgian Whits, Pale Ales and, one of his favorites, Vanilla Stout.
|Dave Koepke at work|
For more information on The Cellar and to check out their incredible prices on malt visit the store’s website
For more information on the new Fond du Lac beer and wine making club visit their Facebook page.
And finally, what's the point of talking about homebrewing without a recipe or two. Here’s Dave’s recipe for his Vanilla Stout. He’s been good enough to supply both the extract and all-grain version. Enjoy.
Dave's Vanilla Stout - All Grain
- 13 lbs. 2-row
- 4 lbs. Cara-pils
- 3 lbs. Chocolate Malt
- 1 lbs. Roasted Barley
- 1 lbs. Wheat
- .25 lbs. De-bittered Black Malt
- 1 oz Northern Brewer 8.0% alpha acid @ 90 mins.
Dave's Vanilla Stout - Extract
- 6.6 lbs. Briess Dark LME
- 1 lbs. Briess Pilsen DME
- 1.5 lbs. Chocolate Malt
- 2 lbs. cara-pils
- .5 lbs. roasted barley
- .5 lbs. wheat
- .25 De-bittered Black Malt
- .5 oz Northernbrewer 8.0% alpha acid @ 60 min
- Add 1 or 2 vanilla beans in secondary for 1 month or put them in the keg - your choice.