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The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Home brewed, homemade: Rack City as a culinary community

Seniors Cove Fylpaa, Katherine Ehrenreich, Maggie Molter, Nina Slesinger, Anna Van Voorhis, Julia Sillen, Ilana Master, Georgia Cloepfil, Izzi Speer, Hannah Evans and Kamie Johnson live together in two halves of a duplex, called Rack City, and engage in numerous food and drank adventures. Pictured below in warmer times as a house, we interviewed them about their homemade efforts this week.


One thing I was really jealous of you about was that you made apple cider, all together, from scratch, and turned it into hard cider. Is it hard yet? Like is it ready to go?

Izzi Speer: Yeah. You wanna come over sometime and drink it?

Julia Sillen: Izzy is the brewmaster. And Hannah is too. Yeah, Izzy and Hannah posted an ad on Craigslist saying like “Do you have apples? We wanna eat them! [laughs] and then a guy from – where was he from?

IS : He was from Hudson, Wis.

JS: Responded and was like “yes.” But he was sort of, very short with us.

IS: Yeah, I called him, and he had a really low voice and was kind of scary sounding and very short soooo… [nervous laughter] We borrowed my cousins car and went to Hudson, Wis. based on a CL ad.

Sounds like a horror movie.

JS: We were actually horrified. I was texting my parents like, “If you don’t hear from me within 2 hours something is wrong!”

IS: When we all got in the car—it was Ilana, Julia and I—we were like “OK. Text someone we know, so if we don’t come back [laughing]…”

JS: Yeah [group laugh] but he was totally nice, and so we picked his apples and then our neighbor had a [cider] press that her friend had made her so we borrowed that.

Bottled hard cider made by Rack City this Fall, label designed by Anna Van Voohris.
Bottled hard cider made by Rack City this Fall, label designed by Anna Van Voohris.

IS: But she has a summer house in South Dakota so we had like 24 hours to use the press because it was going to South Dakota forever. So we set up a bunch of lamps, like dorm lamps like you would buy at Target and put an extension cord out there and like a strip of outlets and plugged as many in as we could and we pressed apples for like 5 hours in the backyard. We had some outside help. We’d like the say thank you to Eli and Mulugetta.

JS: Shout out to Eva, the 13-year-old girl who lives next door.

IS: Hannah is way more versed in cider because she’d done it before. But I brew beer; two years? Three years now? So between the two of us we had all the knowledge we needed. Well we made five gallons of cider, and drank two as regular cider, and then (to my parents disappointment, and I think they thought we were going to get killed because of botulism or something) we turned three gallons into hard cider.

That’s awesome.

Hannah Evans: Well the other time I made cider was under a dorm bed in Turck, so this was much more of a procedure than closet cider.

Do you have any recommendations for other people or students who want to make closet cider?

HE: They should go to the northern brewer for all of their brewing equipment, and don’t use a balloon [as an airlock] because that’s really stupid and is going to make your cider taste like plastic.

IS: Here’s the way you do it: you go to Whole Foods and you get the glass jugs of apple juice. And they come in something you can actually ferment in, because you shouldn’t ferment in plastic. So you get them in the glass things, and it’s like 10 bucks for the juice and the glass container. And then you just go to northern brewer and get a size…

HE: Size 6 of a bung. It’s called a bung.

Many, many home made pretzels.
Many, many home made pretzels.

Can you talk about Oktoberfest? How the hell did that come about?

IS: I said I wanted to have an Oktoberfest and then everyone was like, “We should have pretzels! And all this stuff,” and so that was way more than I ever expected.

GC: That’s just always what happens when we have parties. Everyone gets really into, “go hard or go home.” The decorations and the food—the accoutrements. Long email threads.

IS: We just have a house that gets into things. So when I casually mention, “Oh maybe we should have people over for an Oktoberfest party,” and I think people were like, “let’s make pretzels,” but then it’s like, you can’t just make 10 pretzels, you have to make like 200 pretzels. So then Nina sends an e-mail with the calculations for making 200 pretzels.

Georgia Clopefil: And we bought three times the butter accidentally.

JS: Oh yeah, and if anyone wants baking soda, hit us up. Cause we have three huge boxes. That was a miscalculation.

HE: I moved into a house with a legacy. And I watched it all from abroad with the pictures. There’s a whole series of pictures of Izzi as a pretzel queen. I watched from abroad and thought, “Oh dear. How will I ever live up to this?” I think my favorite part of the Oktoberfest story, from the first one, was when you handed the beer over the fence to the neighbor. A brat and a beer.

I feel like a lot of neighbors wouldn’t be too happy if you had an afternoon party with like two kegs in the backyard.

IS: I think that people are way more cool with that. Like they’re fine with you having fun, but when you keep their kids up until one in the morning and are really loud…

Any final thoughts?

IS: If anyone wants a SCOBY for making kombucha, they should hit me up. I would love to give them away.

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