Making beer at home can help connoisseurs save money

In Dennis Collins' homemade brewery, hot water from the left keg recirculates through the grains held in the cooler to extract the malt sugars. The liquid is transferred to the right keg to boil with hops.

Written by Louis McGill for the Knoxville News Sentinel and

Standing on his back porch on a crisp Saturday morning, Dennis Collins stirs a giant, boiling pot. The scene is reminiscent of an old monster movie, complete with a mad scientist. The steam flowing out has a sweet scent similar to baking bread.

While other Knoxvillians are watching football, Collins, an engineer and member of the Tennessee Valley Homebrewers club, is taking part in an activity older than the pyramids: brewing beer.

For some, brewing beer at home can prove economical. Collins claims to be able to brew two cases of craft-quality beer for under 20 dollars. However, as in any hobby, getting to that point requires some investment.

The pot he stirs is filled with wort, a sugary liquid extracted from malted barley and other grains, which serves as the basic building block of beer. It was extracted from the grains earlier that morning through an elaborate setup that he built involving a modified cooler and a pair of converted kegs.

“Homebrewers are very inventive,” Collins said. “They invent wonderful things.”

While the hobby languished in obscurity for decades after Prohibition it has been legal in the United States since 1978.

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