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Coffee Shop Hosts After Hours Beer Club for Home Brewers

By Janet Upadhye | December 19, 2013 10:54am
 WTF Coffee Lab's after hours beer club is drawing dozens of home brewers in Fort Greene. Asio Highsmith is pictured in the center.
WTF Coffee Lab's after hours beer club is drawing dozens of home brewers in Fort Greene. Asio Highsmith is pictured in the center.
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FORT GREENE — If you brew it, they will come.

WTF Coffee Lab — a Fort Greene coffee shop that brews each cup of coffee manually — now brews pints of beer by hand too.

The small shop doubles as the headquarters for a home brewing beer club that draws dozens of neighbors each month to exchange beer brewing tips and taste the coffee shop's custom-made suds.

"If we can brew it, we'll brew it," said WTF owner Asio Highsmith who compared the process of brewing coffee to the beer brewing process. "Being able to make your own beer is very empowering. It's just as empowering as being able to make your own cappuccino."

Highsmith started brewing beer in the small kitchen of the coffee shop at 47 Willoughby Ave. earlier this year. He buys grains, malt and hops from Brooklyn Homebrew and preps, boils, strains and cools his concoctions in-house.

The result is a wort — the liquid extracted after the boiling process during the brewing of beer — that is then cooled and stored for up to 21 days in the shop.

Once the beer is finished, the craftsmen and women responsible for it can come and take a taste, along with any curious beer conniseurs who want a sample. The beer tastings, one of which takes place after 7 p.m. on Thursday night, is free and open to the public.

The coffee-beer connection doesn't stop there, as WTF's custom created beers often have a hint of java in the flavor.

"It's not rocket science," he said. "We just brew the beer and throw in some cold coffee for added flavor before we pressurize the kegerator."

In the beginning, WTF invited close friends and neighbors to the shop after hours to taste their home brews. But soon Highsmith — amazed at the level of interest in small batch brewing — decided to open the club to the larger community.

"We have the tools and the space, why not make it a community activity?" he said.

The small coffee shop has brewed over 120 gallons of beer to date and has shared the wealth with locals, free of charge.

"It's not about selling beer, we don't want to be a brewery," he said. "We just want to make the beer ourselves and have a party while we do it."

Upcoming beer flavors include a honey ale and chocolate stout.

For more details on the WTF beer club check the coffee shop's Facebook page.