Brewing beer in bathtub for Philly Beer Week

Homebrew expert George Hummel showed off his skills to Metro at his store on Sansom Street.

When one thinks about a bathtub, beer isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind. But maybe beer should take precedence over that old rubber ducky.
 
For one night, some of the nation’s top craft brewers will be bringing their hops-soaked loofahs to the National Constitution Center for Bathtub Beer Fest. The event — actually, a drunk history lesson — is a fundraiser for Philly Beer Week. Revelers will be sampling brews from more than 20 craft breweries, while being treated to the new exhibit, “American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition.”
 
“Beer has really been an integral part of American forever — except for that minor blip in time, that massive miscalculation in judgment,” said Nancy Rigberg, co-owner of Home Sweet Homebrew on 20th & Sansom. “They weren’t drinking milk when they were writing the Declaration of Independence.”
 
Rigberg might have the single, most important responsibility at Thursday’s festival. It’s her job to create a drinkable lager in a 250-pound, cast-iron bathtub. Basically, she’ll be inoculating wort (sugars) with yeast.
 
“You’ll get to see the miracle of yeast do its magic,” Rigberg said.
 
She admits that the re-enactment is more tongue-in-cheek than anything else. While fermenting beer in bathtubs did occur during Prohibition, it wasn’t the norm.
 
“The term bathtub gin came about because people could get the vessels used to make it into the tub,” Rigberg said. “It’s not as easy with beer.”
 
That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Pabst Blue Ribbon used to sell malts, one of beer’s basic ingredients. However, they would use strict warnings to discourage people from bathtub brewing.
 
“They would tell you, ‘Do not add yeast to this product because terrible things might happen,’ yeah, like fermentation,” said Rigberg. “Nothing stops people from making beer.”
 
Not then. Not now. Not ever.

They survived Prohibition
 
Yuengling has long been known as America’s Oldest Brewery, so it should come as no shock that the Pottsville company survived Prohibition. In fact, it thrived.
 
Frank Yuengling believed Prohibition would be repealed. Instead of shuttering his brewery, he began producing three near-beers, including a cereal beverage called “Yuengling Juvo” that he marketed as an energy drink.
 
He also constructed the Yuengling Dairy, which served up ice cream until it was closed in 1985. Some believe they may have used the dairy’s refrigeration system to hide and produce real beer.
 
In 1933, on the day Prohibition ended, Yuengling introduced “Winner Beer” and shipped a truckload to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
 
Ales with ease
 
Nancy Rigberg and her husband, George Hummel, started Home Sweet Homebrew back in 1986. As the craft beer industry has exploded in recent years, so has the popularity of home brewing. It’s easy, it’s affordable and it’s unique.
 
“Can you open a can of soup? Then you can brew your own beer,” Rigberg said. “When you make your own beer, that style, that type, can be completely unique to you.”
There has been a noticeable upward trend in the home-brewing demographic, too, which has gained momentum among females. It’s a throwback to the days before the industrial revolution when women were mainly responsible for making beer.
 
“Women were in charge of the household,” Rigberg said. “And brewing beer was just as much part of the household as baking bread.”

If you go

Get ready for the Bathtub Beer Fest.
   
Where: National Constitution Center

When: Thursday, 7-10 p.m.

Cost: $45 per person (people are encouraged to dress in Prohibition-era duds)



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Woman dies when run over by bus at…

A woman at the Burning Man arts and culture festival in the Nevada desert died on Thursday when she was run over by a bus carrying participants.

National

Texas parents sue day care center for duct…

By Marice RichterDALLAS (Reuters) - A Texas couple has filed a lawsuit against the owners of a Fort Worth-area day care center seeking $1 million…

National

Santa Fe city council votes to decriminalize marijuana

By Joseph KolbALBUQUERQUE N.M. (Reuters) - Santa Fe on Wednesday became the latest U.S. city to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, with lawmakers in the…

International

Egypt queries Mursi over documents "leaked" to Al…

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt is investigating jailed ex-president Mohamed Mursi in connection with documents that judicial investigators say were leaked to the Qatar-based Al Jazeera…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…