We’ve finally got a homebrew supply store again! Mother Road Brewing Co.’s former head brewer Adam Harrington is back after overcoming a brutal spinal injury with a brand spankin’ new spot in the back of Olive the Best at 18 E. Birch Ave. Accurately christened High Altitude Home Brew Supply, they’re open three days a week (Mon, noon–6 p.m.; Fri, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; and Sat, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.) and things are looking great! Also check the Money in the Mail coupon books for 20 percent off. You can reach them at 773-9900.
Mike Williams: Let’s start at the beginning. What was the first beer you brewed?
Adam Harrington: It was out of a Mister Beer—two-and-a-half-gallon plastic keg with a pre-hopped mix kit and some instructions. Very minimal instructions and it was the worst beer I’ve ever made. I think I stole it from a friend … But it sparked that desire to make it better. After that, I met up with a friend that brewed in town and he showed me how to do extract kits. We played around with that and most of it was only slightly drinkable. It was fun, just producing your own alcohol in college. I was 22 when I started, so I’ve been doing this for about six years.
Can you take us through what all you’re offering here?
Our main focus is beer, but we’re offering wine, cider and mead. Mostly yeasts with some additions like acids to make the flavors more complex. Oak chips and stuff like that to add to the wines. We’ve got two different wine kits and will expand from there depending on popularity. The goal is to go in the direction of all fermentation. We’re carrying cheese-making kits, supplies, and premade beer kits. I want to get into kombucha, too. There’s a bunch of different malts, barley, wheat, and rye as well as liquid and dry extract kits. There’s premade kits with instructions, too, that basically comes with a check list of what to do. I wish I had this six years ago (laughs) … I probably could have produced a really good beer the first time around.
There’s an old adage that the talking improves beer. We’ve got a homebrewers club here as well, right?
Yup! Mountaintop Mashers! They meet here the first Tuesday of every month. It’s a good community and we do beer tastings every time. There’s a competition for each style, too. There’s an amazing mix of people who have literally been brewing since before it was legal to homebrew and people who started four months ago. You can bring in your questions and probably go home with more information than you could ever need. Talking definitely leads to good beer and good beer inevitably leads to more talking. At the end of those meetings, the shy person is just as chatty as the person who’s been there for 10 years. The first is free and it’s like $2 or $3 after that with a membership.
Can you take us through the beginner’s kit?
The beginner’s kit is prepackaged and comes in a ton of different styles, from dark and imperial porters to IPAs and cream ales. Beginner kits typically stick to ales because the temperatures are something you can do without regulation. Also, if you come in, I’m always so happy to sit down and design recipes with anyone.
One of the best aspects of homebrewing is the freedom it gives the brewer. What’s the weirdest beer you’ve brewed?
When I first started, I was trying to push everything. Mixing flavors, making the Imperial X with 20 different additives, whatever. But the weirdest one was a beer brewed with banana peels. It was terrible … Just really, really bad. It did get you drunk though. 6% [ABV]!
Final question: We got a chance to sample some of your infamous ephedra-infused tequila a while back and we’ve not been the same since. Could you help usher our readership into a new level of drunk?
Of course! It’s a plant called Mormon Tea that grows at lower elevations both south and north of Flagstaff. You can pick it, you can chew on it—it’ll give you a boost. Hikers use it when coming out of the Grand Canyon. So, I picked a bunch of it, got a gold tequila with a cactus flavor, and threw it in there for about four years in a dark closet. Honestly, I forgot about it and actually moved out of the house then moved back in. I can’t remember if it ended or started our night, the details are hazy … Really, just soak it in alcohol, but don’t try this at home.
Masters of Brewtality highly suggests trying this at home.