Home brewers enjoy sharing beers, techniques, ideas and tales. That is why an event at Morris Farm in Wiscasset last week was called a beer workshop rather than a beer class.

Mikael Andersson, who led the workshop, is executive chef at Sebasco Harbor Resort in Phippsburg, so he knows a little something about putting ingredients together. But he has been brewing beer for only three years, and most of that in Sebasco’s off-season, while others in the room had been brewing for a quarter-century or more.

A couple of people in the room had never brewed beer before, and two others had moved on to all-grain brewing. Most of the participants use liquid and dry malt extracts as base ingredients, adding grains to provide specific characteristics.

Andersson’s presentation style fit all levels, and was designed to encourage anyone to give brewing a try.

“If you can bake bread, you can brew beer,” he said. “Except for the flour, it is the same ingredients.”

Because beer is a living product with live yeasts, things can change over time, he said. And if the temperatures are a bit off in steeping, it might change the flavors, but the result will be beer and it will be drinkable, he promised.

Andersson then went ahead and brewed a batch of beer, first siphoning a batch he brewed a week ago from a plastic fermentation container to an 8-gallon glass carboy for secondary fermentation.

“I strongly recommend a secondary fermentation, although it is not essential,” he said. “You leave behind a lot of dead yeast cells and bits of hops, and it makes for a clearer brew.”

Cleanliness is essential, but you don’t have to go overboard. Make sure you haven’t used the equipment for anything offensive, and then clean everything with a bleach solution, Andersson said.

Andersson called the beer he made for the workshop a steamed IPA. He likes highly hopped beers, especially in winter, but some brewers might want to cut the total of 4 ounces of Nugget hops he uses in his recipe.

During the boil, when things get just a bit boring, the people who had brewed beer before shared the beers they had brought with them. They ranged from an imperial stout at around 8 percent alcohol to a mild amber at 3 to 4 percent alcohol.

Andersson doesn’t measure, but he thinks his steamed IPA, or India pale ale, will be about 4 percent alcohol.

Dennis Doiron, who has been brewing beer for 25 years, says that in recent years his aim has been to produce flavorful beers that are under 4 percent alcohol.

“I love drinking beer,” he said as he poured a low-alcohol sweet stout, “and I can drink more of it if the alcohol is low.”

Once the boil was complete, Andersson poured the mix, called wort, through a sieve into the primary-fermentation container he had emptied at the start of the class.

After he added water to make 5 gallons, the mixture was still well above the 80 degrees required for pitching yeast. He said it’s OK to wait overnight before pitching the yeast, but he put the fermenter into a sink and ran cold water around it.

It smelled like it was going to be a really good beer.

ON LAST WEEK’S column, I got an e-mail from David Geary. His winter ale is an ESB, or extra special bitter, not an IPA. It used to be an IPA, and the Geary’s website still has it as an IPA. No wonder I thought it was sweeter and less hoppy than an IPA. Son-in-law Christian, a frequent co-taster just back from Disney World, declared this his favorite seasonal of the year and the best Geary’s beer he has ever had.

GRITTY MCDUFF’S is repackaging its entire line of brews, beginning this month with a colorful redesign of all bottles, labels, cartons and boxes. The project will last a year, and begins with Gritty’s Scottish Ale and Original Pub Style.

“The new illustrations on the packaging are very modern and distinctive, and we expect a positive response from fans of Gritty’s,” said marketing director Thomas Wilson.

Tom Atwell can be contacted at 791-6362 or at:

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