For some hobbyists, home-brewing provides avenue to craft-beer career |

For some hobbyists, home-brewing provides avenue to craft-beer career

Jeremy P. Meyer
The Denver Post

HOMEBREWER15--Almost every brewer showing off their suds at the 29th annual Great American Beer Festival this week at the Colorado Convention Center can trace their beginnings back to their first batch of homebrew - a hobby that has turned into a lucrative profession for so many. John Fletcher, left, and Tim Myers two homebrewers who found themselves without a job when they were suddenly laid off from the Denver Newspaper Agency in March 2009. The pair decided to take their popular homebrew recipes to scale and open Strange Brewery. Tim Myers adds hops to one of their brews. RJ Sangosti/ The Denver Post

Almost every brewer pouring suds at the 29th annual Great American Beer Festival, which begins tonight at the Colorado Convention Center, can trace its beginnings back to a batch of home-brew – an easy-to-execute hobby that is increasing in popularity along with the craft-beer business.

“They kind of feed on each other,” said Gary Glass, director of the Boulder-based American Homebrewers Association. “The more people get exposed to craft beer, the more people are inclined to start home-brewing.”

The cycle continues when home-brewers go pro with the hobby, he said.

More than 750,000 people are home-brewing these days, Glass said. The fastest-growing segment is people in their 20s.

The nation’s 560 home-brew-supply stores reported a 17 percent increase in sales in 2009, suggesting the hobby is recession-proof.

Stomp Them Grapes in Denver expanded last year into a building five times larger. And the Brew Hut supply store in Aurora says sales have increased 30 percent every year it has been open.

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“It’s been nuts,” said Brew Hut owner Kevin DeLange, a former home-brewer who founded Dry Dock Brewing Co., which was named best small brewery in the nation at last year’s GABF.

“A lot of people who really stick with home-brewing, they like to cook, experiment, make some beers that may not be available,” DeLange said. “They then quit their jobs that pay a lot more to go to brewing school and start their own businesses.”

Colorado is the nation’s home- brewing mecca for a variety of reasons: The American Homebrewers Association is located here; the Great American Beer Festival is in Denver; and the patriarch of home- brewing, Charlie Papazian, lives in Boulder.

GABF co-founder Papazian in 1976 wrote “The Complete Joy of Home Brewing” – considered the bible of home-brewing, with its simple instructions and laid-back message: “Relax. Don’t worry. Have a homebrew.”

To some, home-brewing also has been a life raft.

Read more:For some hobbyists, home-brewing provides avenue to craft-beer career – The Denver Post