Written by Casey Phillips for Chattanooga Times
Pictures by Ken Carman from 2009 Fugetaboutit 2009
(Tony was part of a previous article last December here at Professor Good Ales- Prof. GA)
After one look in the garage of his Signal Mountain home, it’s clear Tony Giannasi has a bit of a thing for brewing beer.
Even if the six-tap system built into his refrigerator and a freezer stuffed with different kinds of hops didn’t raise a red flag, the massive custom-built brewery taking up half a wall might.
“I’m a big beer nerd,” Mr. Giannasi said, laughing. “When you see my garage, it’s like, ‘Oh my goodness, you have a problem, sir.’ ”
As president of the local Barley Mob brewers club with the capability to produce 15 gallons of beer at once (three times the typical home brew output), Mr. Giannasi may not qualify as a casual hobbyist, but he’s far from alone in his interest in home brewing.
About 750,000 people brew beer at home in the United States, and national participation in the hobby has increased by about 20 percent every year since 2005, according to estimates by the American Homebrewers Association.
And the participants are starting younger. In the past, new brewers were usually in their 30s or 40s, but now, they’re in their 20s, said Gary Glass, the director of the AHA and a 17-year veteran brewer.
“This generation seems very interested in self-expression, and home brewing is a good artistic outlet,” Mr. Glass said. “With home brewing, you can create whatever flavor you want in beer.”
That’s why Mr. Giannasi, 33, began brewing when he was 28.
When he discovered local stores didn’t carry a blonde ale and espresso stout he become enamored with at the 2005 Southern Brewers Fest, Mr. Giannasi said he grabbed a recipe book instead.
Since then, he’s explored exotic flavors like Russian Imperial Stouts and German Maibachs among the two dozen different types of beer he’s made in his garage.
As with most home brewers, Mr. Giannasi is more likely to give his beer away than drink it himself.
“The kind of person who wants to make their beer is not a heavy drinker,” he said. “They’re going for more flavor and quality.”
Mr. Giannasi said he’s hard pressed to find any downsides to the hobby, though he’s quick to admit he’s probably not the right one to ask.
“I’m sure my wife could come up with a couple,” he said, laughing. “I think the time consuming thing would be her biggest complaint.
“You also run the risk of talking about beer constantly and annoying your spouse.