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Brewing it up home-style

Brewing it up home-style

Barley & Wine owner Steve Leandres displays one of the brewing supply shop’s prefab kits for “Mean Dog” an India Pale Ale.

POSTED March 9, 2012 11:13 p.m.

More and more beer lovers are taking their passion to the next level and brewing their own craft beers. Homebrewing clubs and competitions have grown rapidly since the legalization of homebrewing in 1978. In 2011, there were an estimated one million homebrewers and over 1,000 homebrew clubs in the United States, according to the American Homebrewers Association.

Steve Leandres, owner of Barley & Wine, a beer and wine making supply shop in Modesto, said the recent growth in the craft beer industry has been mirrored by increases in homebrewing.

“There’s more of a desire to create a high-quality product. Homebrewing is a step and a half behind the industry. The benefit of (craft brewing) being somewhat commercialized is the availability of product is so much better,” Leandres said.

Leandres had been homebrewing for six years before he bought Barley & Wine two years ago. The shop is the only place to buy homebrewing supplies in the Central Valley. The next closest supply stores are in Livermore and Sacramento.

Leandres said anyone can start homebrewing, and Barley & Wine offers classes for beginners twice a month.

“It can start out very simple, but can become very complex,” he said. “We give step-by-step instructions. There is chemistry and biology involved, but we don’t usually get into it with new people. We don’t want to scare them off,” he said.

Brewing includes a three-hour cooking process, one to two weeks for fermenting and one week to carbonate in bottles.

Leandres said the typical first-timers are a group of guys who want to split the costs in brewing their own beer. Startup homebrewing equipment costs between $100 and$200, with the ingredients for each batch running between $30 and $60. One batch of beer (a 5 gallon yield) makes two cases.

Homebrewers use a variety of ingredients to make beer. The basic ingredients include malt, malt extract, hops, yeast and water. In addition, homebrewers may use other ingredients such as herbs, spices, fruits, vegetables, sugars, and unmalted grains, to name a few.

“Anything you put together is going to end up being beer — some just comes out better than others,” Leandres said.

Barley & Wine’s next homebrewer classes will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on March 24, April 7 and April 21. The cost is $25 per person and preregistration is required. To register, call 523-2739. Barley & Wine is located at 1125 Lone Palm Ave. Suite C, Modesto.

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