Start a brew-haha 

From the city to the farm lands, locals are turning their love of beer into a pastime. The learning curve on home brewing is fairly small and the pleasure tremendous.

“It’s a fun hobby,” said Gail White, owner of The Brew Shop, 3624 N. Pennsylvania.

White believes the increase in popularity might also relate to the difficulty of getting good craft beers from the east and west coasts.

“I have a feeling that’s why we have a number of home brewers,” she said.

The craft of brewing has been around for thousands of years, yet the process has changed little. Beyond combining the typical ingredients of water, malt, yeast and hops, home brewers can choose ingredients and techniques to express their creativity.

They take old-world beer styles and change it up. Experimenting with new ways to combine flavors and styles opens up endless possibilities.

“The home brewer can have true ownership that [they] did it and it’s truly [theirs],” said Chris Milum, owner of Learn to Brew. “The ownership is a great reward for most of our customers.”

At his Moore store at 2307 Interstate 35 Frontage Road, Milum sells dozens of prepackaged kits. Most sets contain all the necessary ingredients for brewing five gallons of beer (equal to about two cases), including 50 bottling caps.

The kits are used in conjunction with such basic tools as thermometers, fermentation containers, hops socks and grain bags. Also included is a special cleanser for equipment maintenance.

“Sanitizing and temperature control are very important,” said White. “If you get those down, you will have a good beer.”

Business of brewing

To make a respectable beverage, beginners should consider their own preferences of what tastes good: regular styles, stouts, ales and ambers.

Selecting the beer variety is usually the hardest decision. Kits range in price from $40 and up. Equipment packages are about $150.

Most directions are as straightforward as baking a cake. It takes about three hours to brew a basic beer. Many advanced brewers choose to design and perfect their own recipes, which adds considerable time to the process.

When it’s ready for fermentation, the beer remains in a container for two weeks at 65 degrees followed by a transfer to bottles for two more weeks.

During the final days, the beer gets its carbonation because the yeast consumes the sugar.

Milum usually advises first-time customers to begin on the lighter side with ale or wheat-flavored kits. Over time, exploring the red, stout and pale-ale groups offers mouthwatering excitement.

“We have had customers who came in and only drank Budweiser,” he said. “It’s amazing to watch over a year as their palates change.”

Both vendors agree that commercial beer is generally lacking. In contrast, craft beer is packed with flavor and meant to be consumed more slowly.

Both also offer classes. “We do everything that you would at home,” White said. “Then we have a sample. It’s a good time.”

Visit for searchable listings of restaurants and bars in the metro area.

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