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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Homebrewers in Southern Illinois on TV

Read the press release I've copied below for details on the next episode of WSIU InFocus, where beer brewing right here in southern Illinois takes center stage! The first airing is this Friday, April 13th at 7:30pm in HD!
For Immediate Release
Monday, April 9, 2012

WSIU-TV Program Turns Spotlight on Home Brewing

Carbondale, Ill. -- WSIU InFocus, a weekly local public television series produced by WSIU Public Television, a public media arm of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, will present Home Brewers, a half-hour special on beer-making in southern Illinois this Friday, April 13 from 7:30-8pm on WSIU-TV's primary HD channels, WSIU-TV 8.1 and WUSI-TV 16.1.

Home Brewers will repeat on WSIU's primary HD channels on Sunday, April 15 at 12:30pm and Friday, April 20 at 5pm. It also will repeat on WSIU's WORLD Channels, WSIU-TV 8.2 and WUSI-TV 16.2, on Saturday, April 14 at 4pm, Sunday, April 15 at 9pm, and Monday, April 16 at 8pm. The episode also will be available for viewing online at after this Friday's initial broadcast.

Ryan Tockstein of Benton, Ill., president of the Southern Illinois Brewers ( club and co-owner of Scratch Brewing Company, in Ava, Ill., shows how easy it is to brew beer at home from scratch using a method called "all grain" brewing. WSIU InFocus also visits with several other club members to compare and contrast their operations to those used by Tockstein's.

Home brewing systems can be fairly elaborate, as the WSIU InFocus crew learns when they examine a heat-controlled mash tun (pronounced “tune”) built by Sam Davis of rural Du Quoin, Ill. Davis felt he needed to build this device in order to have complete control over his mash temperature during the process of steeping barley malts into wort (pronounced “wirt,” as in “dirt”). Wort is the starchy essence of barley malts steeped in hot water, to which yeast is then added to cause fermentation.

WSIU InFocus also discovers that brewing can be very simple from Marika Josephson of Carbondale, vice-president of the Southern Illinois Brewers club, co-owner with Tockstein of Scratch Brewing Company, and an SIU graduate student who built her basic brewing system on a college student budget. Josephson uses special ingredients, such as dandelions, to augment the hops she adds to her wort as a bittering and flavoring agent. Both Josephson and Davis make award-winning beers and ales.

WSIU also introduces home brewers Matt McCarroll and his wife, Jen, who are the owners of Windy Hill Hops Farm in rural Murphysboro, Ill., where they grow and sell organic hops for local brewers and offer specialty brewing supplies and ingredients.

As the home brewing trend gains popularity around the country, even non-brewers are jumping on the craft beer bandwagon. Brands never before imported are showing up on store shelves and an explosion of domestic microbreweries and brew pubs is taking place as people develop a thirst to explore hundreds of new styles of beer.  

Shawn Connelly of Carbondale, Ill., a local beer expert known as the Beer Philosopher, blogs about this trend on his site at Connelly's expertise about beers and flair for writing about them led to his position as the style writer for the national publication Beer Connoisseur.  In order to help develop local appreciation for beer, Connelly conducts regular tastings open to the public at Kindling in Carterville, Ill.

The growing number of home brewers in southern Illinois is one of the reasons why Ryan Tockstein founded the Southern Illinois Brewers beer club. Home brewers are constantly seeking to improve their skills and need feedback about the quality of their handcrafted beers, which many people believe exceeds the quality and originality of commercially-produced beer. Club members sample each other's beers at meetings, prepare for contests, and share the best they have to offer at regional festivals, such as the Big Muddy Monster Brew Fest at Riverside Park in Murphysboro, Ill.

As the excitement for locally-brewed craft beers continues to grow, club members hope to follow in the footsteps of local vintners and open a network of local breweries as an adjunct to the region's successful wine industry. Dubbed the “Beer Path” by Matt McCarroll, this new regional industry hopes to add to the long list of reasons why so many people consider Southern Illinois a great place to visit, live, work, and play.


About WSIU InFocus
WSIU InFocus is a weekly half-hour program on WSIU Public Television that turns the spotlight on the people, places, events, and issues of our region. Co-hosts George Norwood and Roz Rice introduce a combination of field-produced and in-studio segments covering topics such as the arts and education, family and community, regional history, cultural identity, and news and public affairs. The program airs Fridays at 7:30pm on WSIU-TV 8 and WUSI-TV 16. Viewers are invited to ask questions, share comments, and offer programming suggestions at (618) 453-6156 or

About WSIU Public Broadcasting
WSIU Public Broadcasting is licensed to the Board of Trustees of Southern Illinois University and is an integral part of the College of Mass Communication & Media Arts on the Carbondale campus. The WSIU stations reach more than three million people across five states and beyond through three digital public television channels, three public radio stations, a radio information service, a website, and an education and community outreach department.

WSIU's mission is to improve the quality of life of the people they serve. The WSIU stations partner with other community organizations to promote positive change and to support the academic and public service missions of Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Learn more and get the latest station news online at and on WSIU's Facebook and Twitter pages.

WSIU's programs and services are partially funded by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

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