LAKELAND, Fla. – It started as a casual hobby for Nick Wozniak and his girlfriend, Ashley Wilson, but somewhere along the way the couple took home brewing to a whole new level.
Nick, an engineer, and Ashley, a chemist, love to watch the expression on peoples faces as they walk into their dining room and discover a custom built kegerator with more taps than some bars.
“I drilled eight holes and then ran the shanks and the taps through the door and each one pours a different beer,” Nick said, showing off his modified fridge.
The beer-lover’s dream has a total of eight taps and is designed to hold about 400 pounds of beer on each shelf.
“Having the engineering background definitely helps,” he said.
While fun to drink, half the thrill for home brewers is actually brewing.
“It’s just like cooking. You’re cooking from scratch,” Ashley said.
In this case the cooking starts outside where the “chefs” grind up the grain.
Eventually it gets boiled, mixed with ingredients to get the hint of strawberry, apricot, or whatever flavor they’re going for and then it spends a lonesome six weeks or so in a garage to ferment.
As the craft beer industry continues to pick up steam, so does home brewing.
“People are getting a taste of the craft beer and they think, ‘Oh you can make this and it’s not that hard’?” Nick said.
As the head of the Lakeland Brewers Guild, Nick said the movement exploded in the past couple years.
His group continues to grow and meets once a month to trade secrets, recipes and help newcomers.
But he’s perfectly content with keeping it as a hobby.
“I think every home brewer has a dream to start their own brewery and their own microbrewery, or even bigger, but I think I’m just going to keep it as a hobby because I love it so much. I don’t want it to become my job,” he said.
You can get more information on the Lakeland Brewers Guild at www.Lakelandbrewersguild.com