By Reggie Ellis

Ten years ago, Patty Goularte sent her husband to the doghouse -- and he's been there ever since.

"As a joke we named our bar Dawghouse Brewery," Mickey Goularte said.

The name originates from an argument following one of Mickey's first attempts at brewing his own beer. One night Mickey was brewing beer beer on the stove when the ingredients boiled over covering the stove top in a black plastic-like beer batter. Patty kicked her husband and his homebrewing out of the kitchen and into the garage -- the proverbial doghouse -- which eventually evolved into Dawghouse Brewery.

"Getting sent to the doghouse is not a bad place to be anymore," Goularte said. "It's pretty funny and makes a great story."

Since then Mickey has moved his equipment to a shed in the backyard and the garage is a bar/entertainment/ game room that the entire family uses. Mickey's brewing skills have come a long since the stove as well. He is now the president of the Tulare County Homebrewers Of Perfect Suds (TC HOPS, named for the main ingredient in brewing beer), a regular at the Exeter Lions Club's annual Brewfest. Mickey said the group of homemade beermeisters is often mislabeled as a collection of drunks. But true "craft brewers" look at beer like gourmet chefs look at food -- they aren't as concerned with packing it away, as they are about aroma, flavor and presentation.

"Craft brewers just don't find Bud or Coors satisfying," he said. "It is made to be acceptable to a wide range of palates, not for those who have a specific flavor in mind."

Getting Started

"The first beer I made was horrible," Mickey said. "I used it in the garden to kill snails, but friends pretended to like it!"

Part scientific and part artistic, Mickey said brewing isn't as complex as it first looks. The main ingredients in brewing beer are water, barley, hops and yeast. The process begins with heating 17-18 gallons of water in one tank, which will make about 10 gallons of beer after evaporation from boiling. The water is then transferred to another tank where barley is added. Barley -- the seed of a grain that looks a lot like wheat -- is then mashed, a process that converts the grain’s starches into fermentable sugars which settle into a false bottom of the tank. This sweet, sticky mash called wort (pronounced wert) is considered raw beer, which tastes like sugar water. Wort, which is as ugly as it sounds, is then transferred to a third boiling tank where hops are added. Hops are the cone-shaped flower of the hop vine, which is a member of the hemp family. There are many different types of hops which is one reason there are so many different types of beers. Hops are what gives beer its bitterness and much of its aroma. Less hops means less bitter, but more hops means better beer, according to Mickey.

"Bitter beer face is a farce," he said in reference to Keystone's most recent TV ad campaign. "Bitter is what makes beer good."

The last boiling separates the liquid from the solids. The entire process takes about six to nine hours.

The remaining liquid is then added to yeast in a fermentation tank. This tank is sealed so there is no foreign bacteria. The yeast converts the wort to ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide. The mixter ferments for about two weeks and then is cooled so all of the remaining yeast and solids settle on the bottom which helps create a clearer liquid.

"It's really not as complicated as it sounds," Mickey said. "I think of it like cooking. You more you experiment the more you learn."

Mickey said he started out with a $50 system 10 years ago and has upgraded one piece at a time to a system that costs around $400. Most starting kits now range from $100 to $150, which doesn't include ingredients, such as barley, hops and yeast which most homebrewers buy from supply companies. After the initial cost of equipment, Mickey said it costs about $20 to $50 to make 10 gallons of beer.

"Don't buy anything until after you have joined or organization or brewed on someone else's equipment," he said. "You may find a lot of things you can use laying around your house or at a hardware store. Half of my equipment was purchased right around the corner at True Value Hardware."

Types of Beer

Mickey's beer is now known throughout the foothills area. He and Patty are both English teachers are Porterville High School and always seem to find themselves making beer for special occasions.

"Once you start brewing your own beer you become everyone's friend," Mickey said. "But it's a lot of fun sharing your creations with other people. Besides, we wouldn't want to drink that much beer by ourselves."

Mickey stores his brews in old soda kegs hooked up to a four tap tower behind his bar. A lot of the fun is in naming your beer. Mickey said his new formula for names involves Exeter landmarks, such as Water Tower India Pale Ale and Pine Street Pale Ale. Currently on tap is Boysenberry Porter, Old Barelywine and West Coast Amber, he is still searching for a more localized name.

"Barleywine is a strong, wine-like beer, but the last one I made wasn't very strong so I called it Barelywine."

Some of the beers at the Lions Club's Brewfest have unusual names such as Arrogant Bastard Stout, Far Tire Amber, Hemp Beer, Doc's Hard Lemonade and Pete's Wicked Ale. But the names stout, amber and ale are much more than different ways to say beer. These are a few of the more than 60 types of beer differentiated by color, alcohol content, ingredients and origin of brewing techniques.

Mickey said most beers can be broken down into two major categories: Ales -- which are fermented at warmer temperatures normally associated with England -- and Lagers -- which are fermented at cooler temperatures normally associated with Germany and Belgium. Most American beers such as Budwieser, Coors and Michelob are considered lagers.

Ales include barleywine, bitters, bocks, browns, ambers, porter, red ale, stout and wheat beers such as weizens, weisses and witbier.

Lagers are pilsner, Dortmunder, Vienna, Munich, light beers, malt liquor and red lager.

IPAs are India Pale Ales, an ale brewed in England for British troops stationed in India in the 18th century. It was brewed very strong, which gives it the high hopped flavor, to survive a voyage that could take as long as six months. ESBs are Extra Special Bitters, the British equivalent of pale ale, and account for about 80 percent of draft beer sales in English pubs. They aren't high in alcohol content but are quite bitter.

Micro- or craftbrews are those made by small operations or homebrewers. Macro- or megabrews are generally large makers and distributors such as Budwieser. Microbrews tend to have higher alcohol content than macrobrew, about at least 5-11 percent compared to about 3 percent.

"We call those swill because it all kind of tastes like water," Mickey said.

TC HOPS

Wanting more flavor that what major companies can offer, Mickey said homebrewers are just like many of us who prefer dad's barbecued hamburgers over a Wendy's or mom's meatloaf over Marie Calendar's.

"It's just not the same," he said. "That's why I got involved with TC HOPS."

While homebrewers do bottle some of their beer it is illegal for them to sell it. By law one homebrewer can only make 100 gallons of beer in a year for personal consumption, which includes giving it away to family and friends at events like the Brewfest. Ten gallons is about 96 cans of beer.

"We usually do a couple of weddings, several parties and I host a Super Bowl party each year," Mickey said. "The rest I share with people. People are always showing up here with empty containers."

TC HOPS memberships are $25 a year. Meetings are usually held at 1 p.m. on the third Sunday of each month. Meeting sites vary, but the club frequently holds meetings at Brewbakers in Visalia.

"It's kind of our unofficial headquarters," Mickey said.

There are currently about 25 active members who participate in a variety of events each year. The next event is the Exeter Lions Club's Brewfest, which will be held from 2-6 p.m. on Saturday, May 1 at the Exeter Veterans Memorial Building. The club also does fund-raising upon request and two years ago donated an amplifier for the Exeter Union High School Jazz Band. For more information on TC HOPS visit the website at www.tchops.org.

"You get to meet a lot of neat and interesting people in homebrewing," Mickey said. "It's really not about drinking to get drunk, it is about fine tuning your craft and sharing with other."

However, Mickey does not recommend getting your start by ruining your wife's stove. Stay out of the doghouse unless you're in Mickey's garage.

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