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Answer Guy: Home Brew

Answer Guy: Home Brew

It takes two to six weeks from opening the box to drinking a brewski. The cost for the initial outlay goes down the more you brew.


Dear Answer Guy: With all these brew pubs popping up and how much they’re getting per pint, I’m wondering what it takes to brew my own. What’s it cost to get started? How long does it take and what’s it work out to per beer?

Well, my brew-enthused, young Dr. Liquid-Bread-in-Stein, you have several options.  We’ll start with this: Livability.com named Albuquerque the No. 1 city in their Top 10 Beer Cities. So you’re in good company in the Duke City.

It comes down to whether you want to have someone basically do it all for you or at least hold your hand the first time or two you brew.

Do you want to buy a kit from a local shop, follow the instructions, and watch your creation come to a head in the friendly confines of your home? These shops are a phone call away if you forget which are the hops and which is the malt.

Well then, let’s get hopping.

First, there’s a limit to how much you can brew legally. It’s 200 gallons a year, according to Mike Griesmeyer from the Dukes of Ale. Now, are the feds going to show up ala Elliot Ness and smash your bottles, kegs and casks? Probably not, but you didn’t hear that from me. Two hundred gallons is a LOT of beer. The Dukes of Ale has an informative website on brewing that can help you stay straight with Uncle Sam.  What is the website address?

At Il Vicino’s Brewery Canteen, 2381 Aztec St. NE, you’ll see a lot of people pulling off the nearby North-South bike trail for a beer and food fix before continuing their ride. The employees are knowledgeable about beer.

While IV doesn’t do personal brewing, they do sell growlers to take home with you. They’ve won stein-loads of awards over the years, including the Gold Medal, Wood and Barrel Aged Strong Beer category last year for Saint Bob’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout. IV was one of only eight US breweries to win gold at this international event.

And they do make a lot of beer. “On average, in a week, we do about 217 gallons per batch, and brew six times a week. That’s 1,300 gallons per week,” said Brew Master Brady McKeown. They’re not home brewers, so they can exceed that 200-gallon limit.

At Kellys Brew Pub, 3222 Central Ave. SE, you brew a “batch” of beer of your choosing. A batch is about 13 gallons and will cost between $135 and $150 depending on the type of beer you’ve chosen. Call for an appointment so the brewer(s) can set aside time for you and explain how it works.

The process takes about two to three weeks, depending on your type and style of beer. Then you bottle it, which takes about two hours. They’ll help with that, too.

Kellys uses 22-ounce bottles they call “bombers.” You get about 72 bottles per batch. Don’t have that many bottles lying around? Kellys sells them for $72 for 72 bottles. Once you have the bottles, cost comes out to about $2.00 per. Bottles are reusable; you rinse and clean them out thoroughly before the next batch. Twist-off bottles or corked bottles aren’t going to make the cut and can’t be used for the brewing process. This is true for all brewing – breweries or kits.

Speaking of kits, two local stores sell home-brewing kits: Southwest Grape & Grain, 2801 Eubank Blvd. NE, and Victor’s Grape Arbor, 2436 San Mateo Pl. NE. Victor’s has been around for 40 years. While you can’t brew beer at these stores, you can buy complete beginner’s kits, supplies and ingredients to brew beer in your home.

The kits go for $90 to $140. Depending on the style of beer you want, you may want to purchase extra ingredients and equipment, including bottles. You’ll get between two cases to five gallons.


Ingredients and packages start at $35 and go up from there depending on what kind of beer you want to make.

Employees at both stores will help over the phone, walk you through the process, offer insights, tips – maybe even pat you on the back for encouragement – or to help you burp. Both offer classes – on brewing, not burping.

For more information about brewing in ‘Burque, try these websites: abqbeerweek.com and abqbeergeek.com.

Send your questions to The Answer Guy at editor@freeabq.com


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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.