It's safe to say beer has changed a bit since residents of Sycamore Manor in Montoursville became of drinking age, but that hasn't stopped them from enjoying the increasingly popular sweet taste of microbrewed beer.
Residents at the facility recently were introduced to a home-brewing class conducted by Cura Hospitality Director of Dining Services Drew Kendall. He started the Sycamore Manor Brew Club at the beginning of the year and plans to hold Brew Club gatherings once a month.
"Residents will learn about different kinds of beer, the facets of the beer-making process and step-by-step instructions on how to brew the beer of their choice," he said.
Cura Hospitality Chef and Director of Dining Services Andrew Kendall at Sycamore Manor Health Center gets the brew started.
Sycamore Manor resident Bob Fisher inspects a bottle of home-brewed beer after helping to bottle it during the home-brewing club at the home.
Andrew Kendall, director of dining at Sycamore Manor, prepares to siphon home-brewed beer from a storage jug into a bucket for bottling at Sycamore Manor. Kendall recently introduced home-brewing to the residents.
Sycamore Manor resident Pete May tries some home brewed beer during the home-brewing club at the home.
According to Kendall, the goal is to create opportunities for residents who are more conducive to socialization.
"Our Brew Club lends itself to an activity residents may have enjoyed prior to moving to Sycamore Manor," he said. "Activities like this also support seniors with memory loss to reminisce about something special or unique from their past and overall lifts their spirits."
Kendall said he started conducting the home brew classes for residents at his previous employer in Mechanicsburg.
"The residents enjoyed themselves and the classes were very popular," he said.
According to Kendall, residents at Sycamore Manor will have the opportunity to taste the sweet success of their labors with three different types of beer. In addition to the IPA, residents will make a cranberry wheat and American pilsner beer.
To satisfy the palate of residents who want something non-alcoholic to enjoy, Kendall plans to make old-fashioned favorites root beer and sarsaparilla. He also hinted at the possibility of making wine.
The first beer the residents helped create and will get to sample is an Indian Pale Ale or IPA, which is brewed with extra hops. According to Kendall, the beer originated in India and was prepared with the added hops in order to preserve the beer on long trips.
For the first class, residents prepared the hops before mixing and boiling the brew for an hour. Once that process was completed, the beer had to sit for two weeks before proceeding to the next step.
During the second meeting, residents added priming sugar to the beer in order to add the necessary carbonation. Then, the residents helped to bottle the beverage into individual bottles. Personalized labels by Cura Hospitality's creative team also are being designed to add a personal touch.
According to Kendall, after the beer is bottled, it has to sit an additional two weeks before it is ready to drink.
"Residents who have their doctor's approval will be able to taste the beer during the home brew club's classes or request to have a beer with their meal," Kendall said. Sycamore Manor officials said the classes bring back fond memories for many of the residents at the facility.
Resident Pete May recalls his father making home brews in the basement for friends and family.
"It was the '40s. We had nothing fancy, no labels, just brew in a bottle! My father would make the beer in wash tubs or use the baby tubs," he said.
May said he also enjoyed drinking beer with his dad while fishing. When asked how old he was when he began drinking, he said, "Dad told me when I could hold my own mug I was old enough to drink and I haven't stopped yet!"
According to May, his favorite beer growing up was Schmidt's and Stegmaier.
Another resident who enjoys the home brewing classes is Bob Fischer, who grew up in South Williamsport. As a young man, Bob said he worked as a bartender at Pop's Tavern where he remembers that 7&7's and Miller Lite were the most popular drinks.
"When I worked at the tavern, beers would go for $.10 a draft and $.95 for a 12-pack."
The classes are not just for men either; many of the members are women who enjoy attending the Brew Club meetings as well.
According to Kendall, the beer will be served at the facility's bi-weekly happy hour, which they call "Thirsty Thursday." Also, future visits to three local breweries are planned to inspire residents to be creative with their beers.