Homebrewing beer, wine grows in popularity

Michelle Willard, The Daily News Journal 8:21 p.m. CDT July 23, 2014

Jack Lisi, pours a glass of wine that can be made from a kit that is sold in his downtown Murfreesboro store Let’s Make Wine, on Wednesday July 23, 2014.(Photo: HELEN COMER/DNJ)

MURFREESBORO – Like the barley in the field or grapes on the vine, homebrewing continues to grow.
Once the hobby of a dedicated few, making beer, wine, mead and cider at home has become increasingly popular, said Michael Semich, president of the Mid-State Brew Crew, a Murfreesboro-based group of homebrewers.
Semich said the group started small in 2005, but quickly grew and today has more than 100 active members and 600 in its Facebook group.
“We invite everyone to join, even if they are just interested in the hobby and are thinking about getting into it,” he said.
Members of the group network use social media to exchange ideas and recipes as well as troubleshoot problems in the brewing process and procure ingredients for their next batch of home brew.
Made of barley, yeast, hops and water, homebrewed beer can be difficult to make, which is one reason why Jack Lisi of Let’s Make Wine in downtown Murfreesboro prefers fermenting wine.
Jack and Cheryl Lisi have been making wine for years and decided to parlay their love into a commercial enterprise. The local business provides supplies for brewing both beer and wine at home.
Cheryl Lisi said the couple was a little concerned about opening a store that encourages the making of alcoholic beverages in the Bible Belt, but the response has been great.
“The response has been so good we’re on our third location due to growth,” she said about the store that opened in April 2011 in a small office on Spring Street.
The store is currently located in a light-filled shop at 208 W. Main St., just off the Square in Murfreesboro.
Lisi also said they plan to extend their hours soon after she retires from her job at an extended care facility in Smyrna.
Currently the store has limited afternoon hours from 2-6 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 2-5 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.
Jack Lisi explained wine making has become easier over the years with the advent of kits that provide most of the materials needed to create wine. Brewing beer is similar with kits to start a new brew.
Semich started with a kit in 2004 after he found a book on how to brew at home.
“It was a disaster, but I had a lot of fun,” he said about his first attempt. “The second batch was pretty drinkable and from there I was hooked on the hobby.”
And he’s not the only one.
“It used to be somewhat rare to hear that someone brewed their own,” Semich said, “but now I’d say that most people have heard that it is possible and likely know someone who does it.”
He attributed the rise in popularity to the rise in food culture across the U.S., which in turn encouraged an increase in professional craft brewing.
“I do not know if the Middle Tennessee region is growing at a larger pace than any others, but it certainly feels like we have gone from an area with a very minor presence to one which has come into its own as a legitimate part of the culture,” he said.
The culture can be found at Mayday Brewery in Murfreesboro and Yazoo Brewery in Nashville.
It can also be seen in the Brew Crew members that have branched out either at established breweries or on their own like the Green Dragon Pub on West Main Street, Semich said.
Contact Michelle Willard at 615-278-5164 or mwillard@dnj.com. Follow her on Twitter @MichWillard.
Mid-State Brew Crew, msbrewcrew.org
Let’s Make Wine, letsmakewinetn.com

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