Black Hills homebrewing picks up steam with specialty store - KOTA Territory News

Black Hills homebrewing picks up steam with specialty store

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Brewing beer at your home became legal in the U.S. in October of 1978.

Now the American Homebrewers Association claims more than a million people are making their recipes into reality.

"I think people are just tired of the American lagers, you know," said Bob Oliver of Rapid City.
 
That's why he thinks people are flocking to the home brew scene.
 
"I think they're looking for flavor."

Oliver has been brewing for about six years now. He's also president of the Ale Riders, a Black Hills home brew club that's been around since the mid '90s.
 
"We have anywhere from 50 to 75 members - couples, typically," Oliver said. "I would say in the last four years we've seen our biggest growth in members."
 
"We just thought it would be a fun hobby to get started with," said Shanon Waldner, an Ale Riders member and brewer with her husband, Jay for the last seven years.
 
"You do have to be careful," Jay said of the hobby. "It has kind of taken over our life a little bit."
 
"Our garage, our house, our weekends," added Shanon.
 
And now it's even easier for local brewers to get their supplies. Les Heard opened up the Black Hills Homebrew Supply in Blackhawk in September.
 
"I suspect Rapid City has some pent-up demand," Heard said.
 
Heard's been brewing for a quarter-century.

That expertise, combined with specialty brewing software, can help local hobbyists fine tune tricky formulas.
 
"Printed out a recipe," said Heard about a recent interaction with a customer, "punched it into the software, he said, no I want it darker than that, so we tweaked this grain."

That's kind of the crux of homebrewing: playing around with this or that until a batch is just right.

"When I brew, I'm continuously tasting things" Jay Waldner said.

"I'll brew five batches one month and then I won't brew for three or four months," said Philip Heins, an Ale Riders member for the last year and a half.

Then comes the best part: the tasting. That's one reason all these homebrewers came together on Sunday. They all stood in Oliver's downstairs kitchen, sampling brews and just talking about beer.

It seemed to be much more than a simple hobby.

"Once you're done, you have your own beer. It's mine. I made this," Oliver said.

You can get started homebrewing for fairly cheap if you're interested. Just a couple hundred dollars will buy you everything you need for your first batch.

Oliver is also putting the finishing touches on a loaner brew kit to lend to people who just want to get their feet wet.

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