The right time

Most people get a beer on their birthday. Dennis Wood is getting beer and a business.
Upon turning 50, Wood is in the process of opening up his own home-brew supply shop, Baron’s Brewwerks. The store, named after Wood’s German shepherd, will supply thirsty residents all they need to create their own ale and wine in the comfort of their backyard, kitchen or garage. He plans to open early next month.
“I had been working at Southwest Airlines for 18 years, mostly in finance, and that’s just not where I am right now,” the 25-year home-brew veteran said. “I thought this was my last chance to do something crazy.”
When Wood began brewing, a supply shop existed in town. The owner sold the shop to become a brewer in Dallas, and the man who took over, as Wood said, wanted to drink beer instead of sell it. As a result, the business floundered.
Today, with the growing popularity of home brewing, Wood saw the need for a supplier in Denton. The closest shop is in Carrollton, more than 20 miles away.
“I felt with all the craft beer bars that are opening up, the time was about right. Denton’s big enough now to support something like this,” he said.
The shelves of the store, at 1103 Dallas Drive, are slowly filling up with malted grain, brew kits, wine jugs, bottles and anything else needed to make the perfect mead.
Although brewing beer at home is not a new concept (the origins of beer production began with prehistoric nomads before they learned to make bread), the craft dwindled in the later part of Prohibition as mob bosses took over the market and supplies became harder to obtain. Even though Prohibition ended in 1933, it was still illegal to produce beer with more than 0.5 percent alcohol by volume until the 1970s.
Jimmy Carter signed House Resolution 1337 in 1978, allowing “any adult to produce wine and beer for personal and family use.” There were rules, though, that still stand today.
A person can make 100 gallons per year, and a household with more than one adult can make 200 gallons. Put in perspective, 200 gallons can produce roughly 2,133 12-ounce bottles of beer or 1,024 25-ounce bottles of wine. This is all for personal consumption and can’t be sold.
There are seven home-brew supply shops in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Harvest House co-owner Matt Arnold said adding an eighth in Denton would be beneficial to all brewers.
“I used to brew a lot of beer, and I would have to drive all the way out to Homebrew Headquarters in Richardson,” he said. “Having a shop in Denton would be awesome.”
Arnold’s bar has more than 30 craft beers on tap, but he said beer you can make is better than any you can buy.
“When you brew it at home, you really see how simple the process is,” Arnold said. “It demystifies everything, and it’s an empowering feeling.”
Wood said a few bars and local brewers have shown interest in his products. East Side Denton wants some hops to make a new “Randall” beer, a process to filter beer with additional flavors. Wood said the flavors can range from more hops to coffee to Captain Crunch.
Audacity Brew House, Denton’s first craft brewery, has proposed the idea of a kit or ingredients that Baron’s could sell to reproduce one of the brewery’s beers, but nothing has been set in stone, he said.
“People like variety in their beer,” Wood said. “You can make the same beer at home that you can get in the store, at East Side or Oak Street or you can create your own. I think people have come to the realization that there’s more than just your run-of-the-mill Budweiser, Coors and Miller products out there.”

CAITLYN JONES can be reached at 940-566-6845 and via Twitter at @Coj9211.
CAITLYN JONES can be reached at 940-566-6845 and via Twitter at @Coj9211.

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